Writer and National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek’s
Out of Eden Walk is a storytelling odyssey across the world in the footsteps of our human forebears. This is his latest dispatch from Myanmar.
Consider the wheel: one of humanity’s defining innovations.
The largest wheels deployed for transportation today are most likely the pneumatic tires attached to titanic mining machines. Such tires can be 13 feet high. A flat on these vehicles costs more than $62,000 to replace. The smallest wheels devised by science, on the other hand, is more debatable. But engineers have constructed rotating wheels for “nano cars” that fit within a single molecule. The winning model of a recent international nano car race traveled one micron, roughly the length of a bacterium, or about 0.000039 inches, in 29 hours.
U Than Win, 63, makes wheels that are 55 inches across.
Win’s wooden wheels are attached to traditional ox carts.