We live in the present and plan for the future. We often forget how much we are shaped by the past. Would you like an example? It's amazing that apparently there are hardly any people who don't have problems with their teeth. It starts in adolescence, when the offspring have to wear braces for years and then have their wisdom teeth removed because there isn't any room for the others. One wonders how people used to house their teeth in their jaws. Starting on page 42, the anthropologist Peter S. Ungar describes the evolution of our teeth and provides an answer: Our diet has changed in such a way that the teeth are no longer mechanically challenged by hard food during childhood and are thus stimulated to grow. Baby porridge and carrot puree therefore ensure small jaws and correspondingly little space for the teeth.
Food is also to blame for the second major dental problem of our time, tooth decay. Only with the advent of carbohydrate-rich and increasingly processed foods could the hole-causing bacterial species settle in our mouths on such a massive scale.
We are currently experiencing very vividly another way in which the environment and microbes shape us. Because with Covid-19 is not to be trifled with, even if the vaccinations now give hope for improvement. In the past, however, people were quite defenseless against such epidemics, which is why epidemics have had a strong impact on human history (from p. 34). How will historians and archaeologists look back on the corona pandemic in a few decades or even centuries and assess its impact on our societies?
In order to examine the past more closely, it helps to classify the historical beginnings as precisely as possible. One of the established methods for this is the 14C dating of archaeological finds. However, this has its pitfalls, so that some results are controversial. New research comes to a significantly different chronology of the "Dark Ages" in ancient Greece between 1200 and 700 BC. (from p. 78). History may need to be rewritten here.
Physicists, on the other hand, get to the bottom of the phenomenon of time itself. Many of them question whether time actually flows from the past to the future, considering this subjective impression to be just an illusion. Now some are trying to reconcile the concept with our perceived reality using a new mathematical view of infinity (p. 62 onwards).