Thursday, October 14, 2010

Xray-CT Imaging of a Very Old Lump

Not exactly the Antikythera, but something a little less remote in time: a barnacle-encrusted pocket watch recovered from a 17th century shipwreck [1]. The wreck is thought to be that of The Swan—a small warship from the English Civil War that went down off the west coast of Scotland during a violent gale on September 13, 1653.

The Egyptian pillars, that can be seen in both the slides and 3D fly-through, were first used around 1640. Thus, I'm left wondering if Newton, like Dirac 300 years later, also covertly owned a special pocket watch [2, p.10].

[1] The pocket watch was a very novel device in C17. Robert Hooke had a lot to do with developing the coiled spring, which improved both miniaturization and accuracy.
[2] J. Van Vleck, "Travels with Dirac in the Rockies," in A. Salam and. E. P. Wigner, eds., Aspects of Quantum Theory, Cambridge U. Press, 1972.