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Science: Telescopes, Columbian Exchange

By Bob Snodgrass
Posted: 10/16/2021
I also get the Wilson center emails and have attended two of their webinars, which were policy focused. Tonight I will zoom into the von Karman lecture at CalTech which relates to the advantages of infra-red telescopes, a subject very interesting to me.

There’s also a very interesting article about evidence for human tobacco use 12,000 yrs ago in what is now Utah, . The second may require a subscription- for those wanting it I can email a copy of the original paper.

This inevitably brings up the question which was more important for prehistoric humans, tobacco or cannabis? It’s interesting to me to think of the so-called Columbian exchange:  Tomatoes, potatoes, corn, chocolate and many other foods changed the European diet forever. Asia had no spicy peppers before Columbus, and they became important. Tobacco was a commercially important import to Europe. It's use was initially frowned on but it soon grew in use and importance.    Spaniards brought cannabis plants to South America.

The oldest real evidence for cannabis use is in ancient china, 6-8,000 years ago. It probably originated in China where hemp was used extensively for rope, clothing, shoes and sometimes parts of walls. Hindu culture acquired cannabis from China and soon incorporated its use into religious rituals. In the Atharva Veda, for instance, cannabis is lauded for being a cure to illnesses, and also for fighting off demons.

So the Americas gave potatoes, chocolate and tobacco to the old world and got diseases, cannabis and sugar in return.

European diseases were acquired from hogs, cattle, and chickens. These diseases passed back and forth between Europeans and animals, because they lived close to each other. Both developed immunities. Amerindians had no immunities. They had no similar diseases that developed with animals, because Native Americans had no similar relationship with animals.

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