Age of Invention: Quiz #2
Part II to Why wasn’t the Steam Engine Invented Earlier? will hopefully be ready next week. If it isn’t, rest assured that the question now consumes me and that I’m hard at work trying to complete it. The more I’ve researched it, the more extraordinary revelations I’ve stumbled across, all serving to confirm me in my strengthening suspicion that engines exploiting atmospheric pressure could have been — and actually were — invented much earlier than we had supposed. Indeed, just a few hours ago I think I stumbled across the smoking gun!
More on that once I’ve finished tying up a vast tangle of loose ends.
In the meantime, however, there’s the Invention Quiz. To show non-paying subscribers what they’re missing, I’m letting them see the answer to last week’s quiz:
It was a device for one person to prise apart the bars of a fortified culvert. Reminds me a lot of Helm’s Deep.
I found the illustration in a 1588 book of all sorts of weird and wonderful machines by Agostino Ramelli (which I was of course checking for atmospheric/steam-powered devices — there were none that I could see, in case you’re wondering). It’s unclear if it was ever actually made or used. Frankly, a lot of Ramelli’s depictions could not possibly have worked.
Unfortunately there were no outright winners this time, though an honourable mention goes to Andrew Clough for working out that it would apply force in four directions evenly. It’s always worth making at least one guess as to the invention’s potential applications, however unlikely they may seem.
If you’d like to take part in the next Invention Quiz, it’s a fun perk of being a paying subscriber — one of my small tokens of thanks for making it possible for me to publish so much of my research for free.