Monday, October 8, 2012

Vol. 2 No.. 97 Haldane, Kangaroos, and a 4000 year old Minimalist Shoe discovered in Mesopotamia

Welcome to our Halloween Edition.

The more we forget, the more we have to rediscover.  I remember in 1977 learning to measure oxygen and CO2 levels of gas expired by endurance athletes running dehydration studies on stationery bicycles in a heat chamber..  The instrument that Dr. David Costill at the Human Performance Lab

Dr. David Costill

 at Ball State University had us budding exercise physiologists learn to use was something called a Haldane Apparatus.
The Famous Haldane Apparatus

 It had been invented in the early  1900's by John Scott Haldane a British scientist looking for ways to determine oxygen levels in underground mines.  The spin off uses of the apparatus included many experiments with marathon runners and other athletes , and some of our present theories of training came about from the use of this invention.

John Scott Haldane in his lab in England 1900

 In 1977, the new technology was just coming in that would replace Haldane's magnificent invention consisting of curved tubing, reagents, valves, and maybe even some wheels and bells.  Clever manipulation of the Haldane apparatus would result in getting good measurements, but a clumsy novice (this writer) would run that baby backwards and contaminate samples, and necessitate just as intricate a maneuvering to flush the mess out, take a new sample, and start over.
Grad Student volunteers for research  

 Dr. Costill wanted us to appreciate the pioneers who had done the groundbreaking work and had the skill to bend glass and invent tools to meet the challenges of testing their hypotheses.  For my master's thesis, the data I collected and the analyis that I did, took almost a year.  Now with the advances in biochemistry, biomechanics, and the computer, the same work could be done in a week or two at the most.

On occasion some of the research went terribly wrong. 

Test Subject in Early Dehydration Studies
Grad Students were ususally pushed to the limit  in Muncie, Indiana.
This subject did regain the use of his legs when DNA recombinant theory was put to practical use.

Back in the late 70's running shoes were starting to improve in leaps and bounds, becoming more and more intricate and comfortable with synthetic materials, but then they had to meet the needs of a mass public.  So looks and appearance started to be part of the  marketing mix as well.
Extreeme Nike

The old Adidas Interval
There was a time in the mid 1950's that Adidas made track spikes out of Kangaroo leather, and those shoes fit so comfortably that they just enveloped your feet like a new layer of closely fitting skin.  In fact some kangaroo in the Outback gave up his or her hide so I could tear around the cinders and feel like a champ when those 3/4 inch spikes dug into the earth and seemed to propel me through the turns and down the straightaways.  Adidas  probably sold a few thousand pairs in North America through the good offices of Cliff Severn and the Van de Voort Sporting Goods Company in Lansing, MI.  Puma may have used Kangaroo, and Dresske certainly did.  Others may have too.  But the sales were so small that the noble Kangaroo never felt the whack of big time marketing and a culling of his loved ones from  the herds.  Do they travel in herds?  I have seen the word 'shepherd' but definitely not 'kangaherd'    Today I received a notice via email asking me to plead with Nike to cease and desist from the use of Kangaroo leather in their soccer boots.
This Joey would make a single size 5D

  How can I ask them to do such a thing?  The Kangaroo leather shoe was a huge part of my past.  It is still  a wonderful memory.  Can't we just clone Kangaroo leather on a sheep or maybe a cow?  Save the Kangaroo.  Should we ask Nike to go synthetic?  That might cause untold damage as well making a synthetic soccer boot. How many acres of soybeans would need to be grown to serve the soccer masses?  I'm sure it would take food off of someone's table.   I'm for 100% organic track shoes,  but that means leather doesn't it?  I'll overlook the steel  spikes being inorganic.

Proper application of Kangaroo leather  circa 1960

                                              Recycling Your Minimalist Shoes
Now for that minimalist shoe.  (Seen Above)   These shoes pre-date Bill Bowerman's first experiments by about 4000 years.   (Can be seen at the British Museum)  They were made of Kangaroo leather imported to Mesopotamia from Australia.  It was easier then as the land masses were still joined by a continental bridge through what is now Indonesia.   These shoes had a light midsole that enabled the runner to have a near 100% contact with the earth as he or she ran.  There is a double stitch down the back of the shoe and this innovation was proven time and again to preserve the integrity of the Achilles tendon when stitched properly to the tendon.  However Achilles had not yet been born at this time and the tendon was known as the Zorbag tendon after a mythological hero of the Hittites.   Further innovations include  the stay tight fasteners found on the shoe on the left.  This design is  on the drawing board today, my sources tell me along with another version of the wheel.  The big companies are just waiting for the patent to expire, so they can put their version on the market.  They are hoping to keep these rip offs under $300.00.    I think this pair was made specifically for someone with two left feet.  Pigmentation studies indicate that they came in a transluscent orange for seasonal wear, however, earth tones were much more practical.  The stylish lacing design is still seen today in some Versace creations, excuse me, imitations.   These shoes retailed.  Well, they didn't really retail as coin of the realm had yet to be invented.  However, a pair could be had from the cobbler for  a firkin of butter or a role in the hay. ed.

Post Modern Minimalist   Puleeese!

1 comment:

Joe Sargent said...

Good Halloween edition, George. Your last picture of the post modern shoe is best marketed to brain dead

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