Friday, November 04, 2005

Another Early Screw

Witold Rybzynski has written definitively on the history of the screw. I'll have to check out the details of his chronology. Of particular note, however, is this example of a screw from Veranzio's Novae Machinae of 1617:

More on Chinese TM

The Max-Planck project has also yielded some very good commentary and translation of the relevant Chinese plates. The authors have also traced the sources of the original works (Besson, Ramelli, Verantius, Zonca, and Zeising).

Digital copies are very useful. Unfortunately, nobody has yet digitized versions of either Verantius or Zeising. I hope that there are some relatively recent re-issues...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Yuanxi Qiqi Tushuo Luzui, Ramelli, and Besson

I've raided the various online digital libraries in an attempt to compare some of the Chinese illustrations.

Lifting Platform

And Zeising's take on the same topic...

Copying Fidelity: Ramelli in China

Breakdown in copying fidelity was a problem in manuscript culture. One example is the result of the diffusion of the theatrum machinarum into China. One example is the Taixi shuifa ???? (Hydraulic Methods of the Great West, 1612) by Sabatino De Ursis. A Jesuit, De Ursis brought several machine books with him on his voyage to the orient.

In contrast to the detailed renderings of Ramelli and Besson, the Chinese works are very low-fi. Consider this example of a double acting pump:

The detail drawings are similarly lacking in fidelity:

KMODDL provides more details on the Chinese mechanical books and the Max-Plank institute disucsses the Qi Qi Tuo Shuo. They also have an excellent digitized copy. One particularly interesting figure is quite clearly a copy of Ramelli: