Gamers' Corner


Of Science and Men

Written by Martin Girard

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Archeology and Past Civilizations
There are many holes in the history of past civilizations, and many deal with their technology. Although most archeologists are looking toward Ancient Egypt, there are much more enigmatic technical issues, such as giant monoliths that past civilizations managed to move on huge distances. Rock blocks of sometimes several thousand tons, with not even marks on them such as ropes. Like they had been lifted magically (or almost).

Archeologists do not like to be reminded you cannot lift those things with ropes and devices made of wood alone. Besides, should it have been such a simple issue, ropes would have left marks on the stone just because of the weight, and there are not. In fact, even today engineers have hardly a clue on how they could move them with current technology. Yet, { primitives } managed to find a solution to this problem.

This could involve two hypotheses: either those people indeed possess a superior technology or were assisted, or they manage to find a clever way of moving those masses. The first one had been widely exploited in science fiction; so let us try the second. In fact, those people, being forced to ingeniosity, did have a strong motivation to find a solution to such issues, what we often lack from our point of view.

Logically, the monoliths were way too heavy to lift with conventional tools. So, the monoliths, since they had been lifted, were to be reduced in weight. There is an important fact about those monoliths: they had been extracted on the coast, in cavities near the ocean. Although there is an obvious reason to proceed like this (putting them on boats), there is a much less obvious one: they could be immersed into salt water. Human beings knew since Archimedes that objects were lighter in the water because they had to move a mass of water equivalent to their own: this is the basic principle on why boats float. So, by moving the monolith while immersed into water, and using many boats lifting it with ropes, then it is possible at least to move then on large distances while being consistent with the facts.

We learn each new day how ingenious those people were, especially compared to us. This is significant in how we look at them, but also on what we shall expect to encounter should we travel to distant planets and meet such civilizations. Finally, it teaches us that ingeniosity is stronger than strength, and creativity stronger than mechanical processes. There is a lot of wisdom to be assimilated from them.

Contemporary Technology
Strong business interests keep technology from advancing. We know of common marketing arguments. Yet, there are others, especially regarding computer technology. It is common knowledge that the race for speed is waged in short-term objectives, most often at the cost of efficiency.

So, if you want an idea of the computer of the future, do not just think of a supra-fast-over-clocked processor. There are several fields of research that are being investigated, most of them being much more interesting.

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