Tuesday, 25 March 2014
Ancient Earthquake Detector
Here is another treasure I saw during my last visit to the Natural History Museum. It it is an ancient... seismomether. An earthquake detector. It is from China, and is maybe the earliest thing we had to identify earthquake. Basically, it is a vase made of bronze with dragon's heads carved in it and surrounded by toads. Each dragon's head was holding a bronze ball. When an earthquake was coming, one of the heads would let the ball drop, indicating where the earthquake was coming from. Simple and elegant. And since people thought at the time that earthquakes were supernatural phenomenons, I find it fitting that the Chinese used a dragon to indicate their coming. Old myths meeting scientific and technological progress. The NHM has many attractions, this one is lesser known, but it is one that I particularly loved. It is a artifact of early human creativity and curiosity.