A chromosomal blueprint that evolved to create a primitive
footprint, then a capable handprint and finally dexterous fingerprints — hopefully
will not end up out-of-print.
Modern history suggests (confirms?) that we humans have inherently huge egos and repeatedly have strived to outdo or outsmart Nature. The "benefit" of our endeavors is usually apparent near term; however, it is the unforeseen consequences that unfortunately impact us in the long term.
Our arrogance can be categorized into different "ages," each defined by our new capabilities at the time. We've defined the beginning of a particular age by explosive, exponential accomplishment and impact affecting socio-economic behavior accompanied by a feeling of wonderment. We define the end of an age when its influence becomes transparent — leading to nonchalance or apathy.
The following will identify six distinct ages, all of which depict a fraction of humankind's drive and desire to achieve and to command our natural world. The last two, we purport, will lead to a scenario that we call Phrenicea.
The Age of Engineering defines the era of frenzied building and construction of incredible structures planned or in progress in the late 19th through the first half of the 20th century — using advanced engineering skill and labor saving tools and machines that magnified man's physical capabilities to incredible heights.
The most magnificent evidence marking this period includes:
The Chemical Age was at its peak mid-20th-century. Organic and inorganic chemists were brewing all sorts of chemical combinations not found in nature. There was much optimism that humankind would improve upon nature's compounds without consequence.
Significant results of this period include:
The Atomic Age cracked (literally) the secrets of the atom to unleash energy
from matter. Atomic power was envisioned to power cars, homes and rockets.
Obvious results of this period include:
The Space Age which began in the 1950s and quickly peaked in the '60s, was perhaps the next logical frontier to tackle, given the knowledge garnered after ostensibly conquering earth.
Dubious results of this period include:
The Computer/Digital Age will soon begin its inevitable decline. The 1990s saw an explosive growth with the proliferation of PCs, the Internet, the web, email usage — and dot-com mania. Although technical innovation will continue at breakneck speed, its impact will be merely evolutionary. Just as the light bulb, telephone, radio and TV became part of the fabric of daily living after the initial pulse of massive change, computer technology will be taken for granted too.
Evident results of this period include:
Although the structure of DNA was discovered by Watson and Crick in 1953, and followed by decades of significant research and progress, the DNA Age is only now emerging. There will soon be an explosion of knowledge with practical application that will change our lives with all of the magnitude of past ages.
Predicted results of this period include:
Our chromosomal blueprint evolved to create a primitive footprint, then capable handprints and finally dexterous fingerprints. Our accomplishments are impressive, arguably improving "the standard of living" for many. Still — one is hopeful that we'll all not ultimately end up out-of-print.
"Helen" by Peter Zale. © 2005 Tribune Media Services. Reprinted with permission.