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The Most Important Sources of Energy We Have in Our Hands: Fire and Metal


Fire is a conception that is much beyond the human history just like water. Its story in the meantime is the story of formation of the earth. But again just as water for us to start controlling it, was the most important factor which carried us up till today. Fire is the fundamental energy source of humanity for a few million years. From the food we eat, to heating, beliefs and even part of our life since the last century.

Certainly fire is not alone in any of this. What makes fire special is how we are using it and with what. When you hold the food to fire it cooks it, when you burn soil it gives you glass. However probably the most important is the relation that fire has with metals. Because each of the mines we discovered either are processed with fire or purified with it just as clay.

Steel fire and metal

If there is anything physically forming today’s world that is definitely metal. Nearly all of the instruments we use today made of it. All of the electronic devices, our houses, cars, bicycles. This situation that become ordinary for us was much more special for the people in antiquity. The existence of metals meant for them to produce the most quality and functional instruments they ever had. And when we look at the process from that time up till today, the entrance of the metals to human life in the meantime actually means history of civilization. This story started with copper introduced us to 91 separate elements today. Metals that each of them has unique features.

Materials and methods

Actually most of the metals mined together, by hot gases and so forth and they begin to be enriched in deep down. Some part of it comes to the surface. For example copper could come. However along with copper; arsenic, lead, zinc found in a little deeper. As getting deeper the property of the ore changes. They reach Polymetallic ores. This words clearly summarizes the place of mining in human life. By the means of our relation with metal we both learned how the world works and how this could be to our advantage.

And in fact the instance that we begin to make the best of this richness was industrial revolution. Industrial revolution is one of the most profound changes that mankind ever experienced. Just as agriculture revolution. And this was only possible when we exactly control water, fire as well as metals. It was not possible to accomplish this without having a controlled fire to evaporate water and the metals to be resistant to occurring heat and pressure.

As a matter of fact, industrial revolution is the period that the parts in the stories we have narrated started to be united ever after. The instance that water, fire, material information, metal processing technologies came together.

Industrial revolution

So that the steam engines started the revolution invented by the people who run after fire. That first engines emerged from the need to dispose underground waters that flooded coal mines. This means the evaporation of the water that heated with fire to obtain more fire and pumping the water in the mine by this power produced out of the steam. It is enough to look at a very simple statistic to understand how big is the effect of that revolution on mankind: to look at the world population…

Too many people, too crowded.
A place that are just way too crowded in London.

After ten thousands of years process that passed through whole history of humanity, the world population that was 1 billion in the year 1800, reached 7 billion in only following two hundred years. This number clearly shows the dimensions of the experienced change. However there is another thing that this data signifies. Our history of civilization definitely is not only a story of success.

We came to such an incredible point in technological sense that even the researchers 100 years ago wouldn’t have imagined. However in the same process we also created very big problems. Mistakes that cost the lives of many living beings in the past and even now.

Uncontrolled population

Uncontrolled population growth is one of the big threats. As number of human grows especially need for energy also increases. This, means much more polluted world in the age that we almost completely depend on fossil fuels. And together with every new born human already limited world sources has to be shared even in a better way. However the system that we based on our world is the biggest obstacle in front of it. Because everything started to change since 4th millennium BC that we begin to see some metals much more valuable than others.

It is easy to understand why high functional materials such as copper and iron has a value. But the value that materials like gold and silver has is completely artificial. We believe their importance so much that we base ail of our economic system on them.

Money and gold

If we even go any further money we use today does not have a concrete value as much as that metals. They are only valuable because we do believe they have a value. So since this perception of wealth and richness had begun the world went to a two way road. On one hand technological development, wealth and civilization, on the other hand hunger, war and death. Central power has always challenged to become stronger and richer and surrounding wanted to grasp what it possessed. And when the elephants fight it is the grass that gets trampled. In fact most of the time the incident happened between only one elephant and grass.

In a sense the history of mankind is a history of war and death. It is especially after metal and fire cooperation. Remember the first bronze objects we processed. It is either a sword or an axe. After that production of increasingly more lethal weapons. Rise of empires, cannons, guns, tanks, war ships, aircrafts and more. There is a few instance that there is not a war on earth since the beginning of the history. It is hard to say it but one of the most important factors that enabled us to establish the civilization we have today is our craving to protect the power some people has and killing human.



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