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Humble Beginnings - Andrew Hanke

Have you ever wondered how the world might be if fire and electricity had never been harnessed? How about if the wheel was never invented, or vaccines developed? Many great technological advances come about from such humble beginnings. If it was not for the invention of the printing press, mass publication and communications may not have led to the internet that you are on right now.

Let’s go back in time to when life, on a day to day basis, was a struggle to survive. The most simple idea led to, what I believe to be, one of the most important, yet forgotten, inventions of mankind: the sling.

You might be asking yourself; how could such a simple device have such a impact on history? Well, let’s take a look. At one time the human race was a genuine part of the food chain, not simply on top of it. Somewhere, somehow, the sling was invented. I am not really sure how the idea was conceived; nonetheless it’s a good thing it was. The sling gave humans two obvious advantages: the ability to hunt and defend oneself. However, little did they know then, it held much more importance. The sling introduced mankind to the first lessons in physics, and it got our minds thinking, moving us faster to world dominance. Necessity is the mother of invention and the sling was the spark to a firestorm of inventions to come (a true unsung hero).

The use of the sling brought forth the natural study of its use and effects on the surroundings. These studies would include, leverage, aerodynamics, wind drag, stored energy, and gravity.

We know early man had spears and they may have been thrown by hand, however possibly after seeing how far stones could be cast there may have been attempts to use the sling and spear together, leading to the atlatl. That was our first lesson in the advantage of leverage. This will later be used in everything from trebuchets and catapults to Stonehenge and modern skyscrapers.

Overtime I’m sure it was discovered that the rounder the stone the more accurate the shot. Surely the observation of spin on the projectile was tucked away in the mind and taught as common knowledge, knowledge of aerodynamics and wind drag that is. With that common knowledge came the study of lift on an object with high and low pressures which eventually carried man to the skies and beyond. Gravity was also made well known because if the stone goes up it will come down. (Maybe Chicken Little was a slinger.)

Up to now our ancestors only had atlatls and slings. The only drawback was the lack of consistent accuracy and stealth of the sling. If you sling you obviously know the sling is useless until centripetal force fills the cords with tension (stored energy) from the weight of the rock in the center. The harder you swing, the more the rock wants out, pulling tightly on the strings, until the snap of the release. How much better it would be if the sling was always tight and all you had to do was let go? You could hold your aim and secure your shot more frequently.

Before you read on go get your sling, I’ll wait. Now hold your sling with a cord in each hand and stretch it as hard as you can. Now have someone pull on the pouch and let go; the bow is born. The bow may have been nothing more than a sling stretched on a stick creating constant tension ready to go at anytime. It would not take long for the sling to evolve into a bow string with smaller, lighter instead of spears. The simple application and development of the bow took knowledge of: leverage, aerodynamics, wind drag, and tension all working together.

Stored energy, now that’s a lesson not to be reckoned with, now we are moving up in the world with one exception, stored energy in weapons leads us to the harnessing of gun powder to make rifles, cannons, rockets and worst of all, death in the blink of an eye, nuclear war heads.

So you see the sling has carried us through history. The most important and relevant impact is that the sling caused us to use our imagination and it still boggles our minds or we would not have hundreds of members on still experimenting with humbled slings. Slinging is fascinating to learn because it takes you back to the basics to start all over and rewrite your own lessons. Slinging Rocks.

- Andrew Hanke (a.k.a. dork)


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