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Egg Which Moves Itself And Burns

I was watching the History channel last night. The program was Ancient Discoveries: Machines of the East. It rewled. It was all about these amazing machines that were built in the 13th century. Water wheels, time telling devices that could be used anywhere, fireproof clothing, a clock that's almost like a perpetual motion machine. The trebuchet! I love the trebuchet.

But the most awesome thing they invented was a torpedo. It was previously thought that torpedoes weren't used until the 1800s but in fact the Muslims had created a device that is pretty much a torpedo. They called it the "egg which moves itself and burns".

Also reported by Partington [3] "Hassan Al-Rammah describes various kinds of incendiary arrows and lances and describes and illustrates what has been supposed to be a torpedo. This is called 'the egg, which moves itself and burns' and the illustration and text suggest at least that it was intended to move on the surface of water. Two sheet iron pans were fastened together and made tight by felt; the flattened pear-shaped vessel was filled with "naphtha, metal filings, and good mixtures (probably containing saltpetre), and the apparatus was provided with two rods (as a rudder?) and propelled by a large rocket".


I wish i could find the computer simulation of the torpedo in action that the History channel used. Here's a picture of what it might have looked like, at any rate.

They got a model builder to make a scale model based on the notes they found. He tested it, and it really did work. They would use it in naval warfare, basically. The front end has a pointed shaft which punctures the hull of a ship on impact. Then it explodes. I don't know why they never did stuff like that in school. Physics would have been way more exciting if we went out to lakes to blow shit up.

I don't know how engineers from the 13th century compare to modern day engineers, but i do know that i've yet to see a civil engineer design a stormwater system that can handle 2 days of rain without flooding.

Watching stuff like this always makes me want to be an engineer again. But then i remember that you don't actually get to do this stuff in your job. Also, i'm a slacker.

By min | April 25, 2007, 9:59 AM | Science


So who's up for some Civ?