Wednesday, April 07, 2010

An ancient mechanical genius you may NOT know

We have all heard the great inventors of antiquity such as Archimedes and Hero. Here is another name worth knowing: Al-Jazari. Al-Jazari was an scholar, inventor, engineer, craftsman, artist, mathematician and astronomer from Mesopotamia, who lived from about 1136 to 1206. He wrote The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices, which describes some fifty sophisticated machines.

The video clip shown here from Ancient Discoveries covers Al-Jazari's elephant clock -- a fantastically elaborate device which employed automata. There are a working reproductions of the elephant clock in Dubai and Switzerland.

Here is the Wikipedia article for Al Jazari. Here is the article on the elephant clock.

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Leonardo's Machines: Da Vinci's Inventions Revealed

Leonardo's Machines: Da Vinci's Inventions Revealed
Here is a highly-rated book that explores Leonardo's inventions from flying, hydraulic, war, and theatrical machines to musical instruments. This uses Leonardo's orginal artwork and annotated computer diagrams to show how each of his inventions might would have worked.

It seems to be out-of-print, but can be found used at Amazon. Here's a link to Leonardo's Machines: Da Vinci's Inventions Revealed

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Book: The Pneumatics of Hero of Alexandria

The Pneumatics of Hero of Alexandria
Hero (or Heron) of Alexandria (c. 10-70 AD) was a prolific inventor and mathematician and is one of the first known creators of automata in the history of Western civilization. His original works were destroyed in the fire that consumed the ancient library in Alexandria, but some of his work survived by way of copies that were made in Arabic. Here is his work on Pneumatics, which included a working steam engine -- an invention that was perhaps several thousand years ahead of its time.

Here is the book The Pneumatics of Hero of Alexandria

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Leonardo's: Machines in Motion exhibit, Nebraska

There is an exhibit that looks simply amazing titled "Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion" at the Strategic Air & Space Museum in Ashland, Nebraska. The models for the exhibit are gorgeous and nearly all of the displays are interactive. The Leonardo exhibit runs through May 9th, 2010.

Here's info on the Leonardo exhibit at the Strategic Air & Space Museum web site.

[ Thanks Rusty! ]

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Birthday of Eli Whitney Jr., Inventor

There is a tribute on the Make Magazine Blog to this American inventor.

From the Make Blog:
"On this day in 1765, Eli Whitney, Jr. was born in Westborough, Massachusetts. Whitney would go on, most famously, to invent the cotton gin, which revolutionized cotton production in the antebellum South. He eventually became the most famous early American proponent of interchangeable parts, and also invented one of the world's first milling machines."

Here's the Make Magazine post about Eli Whitney.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Profile of inventor Dean Kamen

Inventor Dean Kamen
I had the great pleasure of seeing Dean Kamen speak in Boston once and got to shake his hand afterward. I let him know that he was on of my heroes in no uncertain terms. He was very gracious.

He is currently working on heat driven Stirling engines (see this model Stirling Engine I posted about not long ago). He's not just working on the engines, but some novel applications for their use. I can't wait to see what he comes up with.

Here's a nice long profile on Dean Kamen, a modern day inventor. Found via's coverage today.

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