Throwing Stuff · 10:54am
This blog concerns humanity being awesome and also weapons.
Now that most of you are still reading, let’s talk about what makes humans human. There’s a lot that separates us from beasts. One of the biggest is throwing things.
Barring animals like archerfish that spit water, humans are one of the very few species that have taken ranged weapons to heart. We’re experienced enough to search for certain kinds of rocks that are better for throwing than others. This puts us ahead of monkeys flinging poo.
If you put yourself in the shoes(?) of a caveman, what’s the first weapon that comes to mind? If you haven’t crafted a spear, you’re probably going to pick up a rock. You can use it for defense, or you can use it for killing your dinner. Maybe scream a little, show your teeth, and beat your chest – it’s okay, it’s just the predator side of human nature.
Despite the savage caveman instincts of braining a rabbit with a rock so we can eat, the mechanics of throwing stuff is surprisingly sophisticated and elegant. The kinematics of your hand and arm moving in such a way that an object is aimed, propelled, and released perfectly enough to hit a target gets more difficult the more you think about it, even more so when moving targets get involved. It probably helps not to think about all the intricacies and just fall back on instincts. Humanity has come to possess such skills as an instinctive trait and can further sharpen them through muscle memory. Throwing a wide variety of stuff to hit a wide variety of other stuff is something that no other species can do. In fact, studies have been done. When presented with a selection of objects of different sizes and weights, people are usually able to instinctively choose the one that they can effectively throw the furthest.
Throwing stuff has become so ingrained in the ways of humanity that it’s evolved through the ages from weaponry to recreation. Many, if not most, sports revolve around throwing stuff. Some, like baseball or cricket, even combine our species’ talent for throwing stuff with our talent for hitting stuff with sticks.
Speaking of baseball, do you know why US grenades are shaped like this? Because any American kid should be able to throw one.
So of course, as time went on we started throwing other things, as the above picture demonstrates. We discovered that poking holes in things works better than hitting them with blunt force. We also discovered that while human muscles were great, mechanical and chemical propulsion could be better. Hurling pointy objects with bows or gunpowder took the place of throwing rocks..
I’m a guy who played Fallout with kinetic weapons only. I just don’t resonate with energy weapons. I guess they could be more powerful, but there’s just something satisfying about getting an object to impact a target a significant distance away. A successful shot feels so much more satisfying than a successful zap. It’s good for the soul.
Taking a step back to our modern world, firearms are the current norm. People will probably give you strange looks if you show up on the battlefield with a bow or a laser.
Mad Jack Churchill: WWII soldier. He had the nickname for a reason.
Firearms have a unique niche in human culture. Soldiers, old west gunslingers, Olympic target shooters; again we see a progression from survival to sport and again a wide variety is presented. We have guns of all kinds. Rifles, tanks, artillery. Every one is for throwing things at things. Perhaps one of the most difficult targets to hit, though, is air-to-air where both the shooter and target are moving at hundreds of miles per hour.
Planes have been shooting other planes since shortly after someone came up with the idea to weaponize them. We’re even able to successfully engage targets with guns mounted in strange places. For example, the cannon on an F-16 is located in the side of the fuselage near the pilot’s left hip. On an F-15, it’s in the wing root, off to the side and behind the pilot’s right shoulder. In fact, I can pretty much only think of two modern jets with guns mounted front and center. One is my flyifu, the F/A-18 Hornet. If you can’t guess the other one, maybe this blog isn’t for you.
That’s right, it’s a Volkswagen Beetle!
Throwing stuff is everywhere, from war to the more modern use of sports. It makes me wonder, though, why My Little Ponies would appear to have the same kind of traits. We’ve seen common American ball sports in the show and the Equestria Games included an archery competition – not to mention Pinkie’s cannon. They even throw pies as weapons.
Likely this is just the show creators imprinting human traits to make the characters more relatable. The show creators are human, just like the rest of us. They know how to throw rocks, how their caveman ancestors got things done. And they gave girly magic ponies the most raw of human combat instincts: throwing stuff.
Kind of makes you proud, doesn’t it?