Saturday, February 2, 2013

Great mechanical bird

I was browsing through the website of Erasmus Darwin House (that celebrates the amazing Erasmus) when I came upon an irresistible link to "Great mechanical bird". Erasmus just rose further in my estimation and I didn't think that was possible.

In the 18th century there was still no satisfactory explanation for the mechanics of flight and, inquisitive by nature, Darwin appears to have set himself to the task. Sketched out in his commonplace book in 1777 at the height of the 18th century quest for automata and artificial life, the bird (technically a goose) will be brought to life in a steam punk style reminiscent of the era. Using a small reservoir of compressed air as the in-flight rewinding mechanism in the book, Darwin’s description of a bird’s flight is very close to reality, and appears to be the first complete account of a power-plant and the necessary cycle of the wings’ movement – fascinating stuff! We’re working away at ensuring our model does this incredible invention justice.

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