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Editor's Note

Problem-solving insights enable new technologies

12:00pm, June 29, 2016

Fire was one of our ancient ancestors’ first forays into technology. Controlled burns enabled early hominids to ward off cold, cook and better preserve game. New evidence places fire-making in Europe as early as 800,000 years ago, much earlier than previously thought and closer to scientists’ best estimate for hominids’ first use of fire, about 1 million years ago in Africa.

It’s unclear how early Homo species came to master fire, but it was perhaps an attempt at problem solving — capturing a natural phenomenon and harnessing it for use. That tradition has persisted in human cultures. It thrives today among scientists, especially those engaged in

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