| The First Wheel?
As he chipped away on the large stone slab, Xi the caveman, managed to round off the four corners, trying to make the first wheel. About to test it he noticed it was a long oblong shape and he wondered if his calculations were wrong. He grunted loudly, tilting the heavy stone up. It began to roll, but with its oval shape it rolled back on him, smashing his jaw and chipping his only good tooth. Something went wrong.
Being the smartest in his group Xi checked his calculations on the stone tablet and found that his calculation of Pi, the ratio of circle diameter to its circumference, was wrong. Not only did he forget to divide by two, he misplaced the decimal point resulting in Pi being 62.8.
Instead of chasing females, like all his friends did, he would spend time at the river, rolling stones down the bank. Soon he discovered that the 'rounder' a stone was, the better it rolled. Re-calculating, he finally found his error, but the stone tablet fell causing an immense pain on his big toe. (Once he tried using slate as a tablet and though much lighter it was thin and with sharp edges it once fell and instead of bruising his toe, it cut it off cleanly.) With one big toe left, he swore to himself he would invent something lighter to write on.
It took a few weeks to make a new stone. His mate often would sit nearby, watching him and at times teasing him. Muu was a good partner and was good at scratching his back, but she was of a lower mentality and would often get in his way. It seemed she was always standing next to him and he had to shove her away.
Xi enjoyed testing the different round stones near the stream where he would roll them down a bank to see which ones went the fastest. His mate, at the bottom, just sat there watching. He soon realized the 'rounder' stones went the fastest and as one stone careened down, it bounced off her head. Angrily, Xi said, " You thick-skulled woman. Get out of the way!"
With his crude mallet pounding the chisel, his fingers were bruised and bleeding, but Xi didn't care; he was determined to make it work. His mate, quietly watching, said, "Why do you make little stones out of big stones?"
This time he made a true circle and he had a feeling it was going to work. Careful to roll it up a nearby hill, near his cave, he pushed it down. Heavy, weighing almost 300 pounds, it quickly gathered speed. Then, rumbling down the hill, it flattened his friend at the bottom, leaving a rather large bruise on his back. Leaping with joy, Xi knew he had invented something important, though his friend, moaning in pain, did not appreciate the occasion. After soothing his friend Zu, he told him, "Next time, if you see me on top of the hill, don't stand at the bottom."
As his friends noticed his strange device they asked him what was it for. One man, the one with the least brains, said, "Why do you play with rocks all the time? Come with us. We're going to watch the females bathing in the creek." But Xi paid no attention to them. He somehow knew he had a good idea. Not realizing its potential. Xi played with it, trying to find some use for it. Though finding much satisfaction in rolling it down a hill, he finally tired of it, especially as his friends often got clobbered by the heavy stone. One day, testing a new stone, he rolled it outside his cave when his mate happened along. Luckily, it missed her body, but it smashed her big toe. Naturally she was quite upset. For the next three days, Xi had to sleep outside his cave, with nothing to keep him warm. This was the final straw: he had to give up his new idea.
Months later,with the stone wheel sitting in his cave, gathering dust, his mate often tripping over it, he decided to make it into a table. Xi was tired of eating on the dirt floor. Every time he dropped a bone at dinner, he would pick it up and get a mouthful of sand and he hated that. With four stones to prop up the wheel, it made a good table. This proved to be a great idea. Even his mate liked this new furniture. Chiseling out many 'wheels' the next few months he traded them for seashells and other bright stones and soon he had a thriving business. It was the cave man's first furniture. He still thought his idea had a greater potential but he couldn't think of what it could be. He even tried to use it as a door to his cave, but it was too heavy to open. This was his undoing. Coming home from hunting, the stone door was stuck. As he spent hours trying to pry it open, his mate screamed at him from inside the cave. With five of his friends they managed to pry it open. Inside, his mate covered in soot from the fire, she yelled loudly, "If you don't stop playing with your stupid gadgets, I'm leaving you."
Then one day, hunting with his friends in a new territory, he saw a clan of cave men they had never seen before. Zu, his friend said, "Look, they are using animals to pull something."
Before their eyes they saw a box-shaped device with four round wheels attached, one on each corner. Rolling easily on the ground, the animals pulled it to carry their goods. Gazing at the sight, Xi now realized he had missed his chance to patent his idea. ( He wasn't aware patent offices wouldn't be around for another 10,000 years.)
Fascinated how well the device worked, he wondered why he hadn't thought of that.
Sobbing with disappointment, Xi heard his friend say,
"Look Xi, they are using dining tables for wheels."