Otters Oddities

Eureka! Oh yeah? Well, you don't-a smell-a too nice, either....

Archimedes. He was one of the smartest men of his time. There are some that would argue he was one of the smartest men of all time.

I doubt that. Granted, the man was brilliant, but nothing he came up with wouldn't have been thought of by someone else, eventually. But then, that's the way most ideas work.

See, Archimedes wasn't really a scientist. He was just a guy who could look at a problem and visualize a solution. Take his realization that he could figure out the weight of an odd shaped item by calculating it's volume by how much water it displaced.

That was an idea waiting to happen. If Archimedes hadn't come up with it, someone else would have.

Same goes for his screw. The screw principal was already known. Any trades man who used a drill knew that a screw would bring the wood shavings up out of the hole. Archimedes just applied that concept to water.

Don't get me wrong. Archimedes did some amazing things. But when we look back on them now, we don't always appreciate how amazing they were.

Take his screw for example. Using it to move water from a river, uphill, to a field, was a great time saver. It also took much less labor to move the water. Modern people look at it like, "Well, somebody still had to sit there and turn that crank to make the screw move water up. That was still a lot of work!"

And it's true. It was. But, it was a lot less work than walking all that water uphill, 5 gallons at a time.

Today, I'm going to tell you about one thing Archimedes came up with that not too many people know about.

Archimedes spent a lot of his time developing weapons of war. He had a pump that shot out Greek Fire. He developed a claw to pick up ships and bash them on rocks.

But, the one idea that would have advanced the ancients much faster, was the one idea he couldn't figure out how to make practical.

Working off his screw idea, he came up with a way of modifying the screw. Instead of pulling water up on a continuous wind of metal, he developed a way to push water back, by flattening out the screw and separating it into separate segments. He found that, if he attached this modified crew to a shaft with a crank, a man could turn the crank and push water.

He also realized that, if he were to attach the shaft to hull of a ship, by pushing the water back, you would propel the ship forward.

Archimedes made the first propellor.

The problem was, there was already a way of propelling a ship forward. It was called rowing. But rowing took a lot of men. And those men took up space. Plus, they had to be fed. If you could use a propellor to move a ship, it would take fewer men to turn the crank. That would free up room for more cargo.

Except, the men couldn't turn the crank very fast for very long. To compensate, Archimedes developed a bigger propellor to push more water with each rotation. This didn't work. To make a propellor large enough to move the ship at the speed of the men rowing, the propellor would be so large, you would need just as many med to run it. Plus, it would be so large, there weren't many harbors deep enough for the ship.

His idea was forgotten, and it wasn't until the advent of steam engines that the propellor was re-invented.

Now, you want to know what makes this particular oddity so odd?

Heh heh heh.....I made it up.

Yes, that's right. I fabricated the whole story of Archimedes developing a propellor in my head. But, it sounded plausible, didn't it?

"Why Otter? Why do you fool us so?" you all are screaming at your screens right now. Well, there's a very good reason for it. I'm thinking of adding a new twist to my daily oddities posts. I'm considering changing each Mondays post to be a sort of test.

I'll write a post, but it might be true, it might be partially true, and it might be total bull shit.

Then, in the comments, people would say if they believed it was true, or false, and their reasoning. Then, I would reveal if it was true or not in Tuesdays post.

Now, like I said, I'm only considering this. I would only do it on Mondays, so Tuesday through Friday, you would still get the exact same oddities posts you've come to know and, not exactly love, but not despise.

In my head, I think it would be fun, and I would encourage everyone to participate. And, if the urge strikes, you could also use your post explaining why you think the fact is true or false to try and sway others to your opinions.

For the record, Bernoulli, in 1752, suggested a boat could be propelled by using "vanes set at an angle of 60 degrees at both the arbor and the keel". And, James Watt, in 1770, used the first screw propellor to move a boat.

So, let me know if you think Made-Up Mondays is something you'd like to see as a regular feature.