In this high tech world we should not be so quick to ignore low tech solutions. The very first tool is still in use today everywhere. Science has determined through years of study that the very first tool was a sharply broken rock… A rock with a cutting edge. This could be called the root of the tool tree. It could have been used to chop, cut, or scrape… but it gave the user power. Power that was unknown before it’s discovery. It could have been used to move something heavy by wedging it underneath. Suddenly the user was empowered to imagine uses for this very simply inclined plane, edged tool.
People tend to ignore the significance of low-tech solutions and cast favor on claims of “faster, easier, better” high tech products built by some industry. Some of these claims are true, but most are simply a way to get your money. As tool-making evolved many tools have been abandoned in favor of newer tools… but some still use very simple means of getting the job done.
Consider the job of splitting logs. The average homeowner (who has a wood stove to keep warm) still uses a wedge and splitting maul to split his logs and make stove sized fuel. Some people have gas-powered log splitters, but not all that many… and besides, they have to buy, store and use gasoline (Use fuel to make fuel). Still others have to buy their wood already split into usable chunks from people who make their money splitting wood. Any way you look at it, there is no better tool for splitting wood than some version of a splitting wedge… manual or hydraulic.
Here’s a good reason why simple tools are the best tools. Fewer parts to get lost or broken. The basic splitting wedge is a single monolithic precast sharpened chunk of iron. I have found these sitting out in the weather after years of disuse and used them immediately without any repair.
Lets move on to other technologies.
Not everyone can use the old tools to get the job done. Some people are limited to whatever we can come up with as a substitute, due to some physical, mental or emotional limitation. Science comes to the rescue with all manor of inventions, most of which are utterly useless for the majority.
Aspirin for instance, was invented/discovered in 1853-1859 by multiple chemists who were attempting to synthesize the effects of white willow bark as a pain reliever. Aspirin literally became a wonder drug overnight. Aspirin was the first pain reliever (NSAID) to be produced that was purified and regulated so that dosage could be accurate, however willow bark has been in use since the 3rd dynasty of Ur in 3000 BC. Compare 5000 years of usage to the short 50 or 60 years for acetaminophen and ibuprofen and you start to realize the short amount of real world testing that has gone into the development of these modern substitutions.