Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Gun, Germs and Steel

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies cover
Okay in an effort to lay the marathon ghost to rest, I am contributing another piece to the blog world, just so to push the marathon post further down. Just finished another great audio book called 'Gun, Germs and Steel' by Jared Diamond. It is good if you are interested in anthropology, the study of human. The author offer an interesting theory on what it was the Eurasian civilisation, defined as every culture that live on the Europe Asia continental plane, that has rise above the other (American, African, Oceanic and Australian) civilisation in terms of economic and technological development. Why was it the Eurasian who set sail and conquered and colonised the world but not other culture.
According to the author, the Eurasian's advantage is entirely environmental, there are two key factors, the larger size of the Eurasian plane and the East-West orientation of the continent. The larger land mass means more variety of species of plants and animal, which lead to domestication of crops and large mammals and the development of arigculture society. It is interesting to know that only 14 large mammal species were ever domesticated in mankind's history, and with exception llama by the Inca, all others were developed in Eurasia. So many African mammal just weren't the right candidate for domestication.
The second factor is perhaps more important, Eurasian continent lies at East-West orientation, which means a vast land mass share the same latitude and climate. Hence a plant species once domesticated can be reproduce across the continent within similar climate zone. This lead to the migration of society, development of trade and diffusion of technology. The North-South orientation of America has hinder such development. Another interesting fact, the Aztec in Mexico had invented wheel independently in 3000BC, the llama was domesticated by the Inca at around the same time, but the two inventions have never met each other before the arrival of the European.
My course on International Development is gonna start again next week. I can't wait for it to start as I have enjoyed the last semester so much. Although all the time sitting at the study had reduced me to a fat boy. I don't know how I can cope with the study with also plans to do adventure race, triathlon and climbing in Krabi (yeah, climbing in Krabi, just to check if any readers have read this far!)

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