Thursday, June 18, 2009

Woolly Mammoths and the Evolution of Technology

The bones of one male and four juvenile woolly mammoths were discovered in 1986. While we originally thought the bones were around 21,000 years old, we now believe they are are actually 14,000 years old. They were originally carbon dated with technology that was widely considered to be inaccurate, but new research indicates that the mammoths were in Britain for thousands of years after we originally thought they went extinct. Read the complete article at Science Daily, here.

This news brings up something that has been weighing on my mind about what we "know" about evolution (and science in general. Technology and science are so young. We are always discovering that we got things wrong and figuring out how to do them "right." This is the nature of technological evolution, but it also makes me think about whether the bones are really 14,000 years old, or whether we will discover in another 15 or so years that they are even younger, or maybe that we got it right the first time. Etc. As much as I want to trust science and believe in these new discoveries, these situations generally are more likely to remind me about the imperfection of science and how our body of knowledge will be evolving indefinitely.


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