RE: Information & Power /Alexandria library

Billy Brown (
Wed, 5 May 1999 08:51:50 -0500

Spike Jones wrote:
> I can knock out my own argument I proposed last week: that there
> was probably no technology in the great library that we have not
> greatly exceeded. I thought of an honest to Greek gods *technology*
> that they had, that we do not have now: how to make stone arches..
> Can you calculate all the included angles without your computer?
> Can you calculate them *with* your computer?
> Evidently the Greeks knew how to do these stone arches..

So do modern archaeologists. They have even reconstructed the exact methods used by architects of different cultures, and they often use these comparisons as a means of measuring cultural influence between different regions.

The only reason it sounds hard is that you're trying to construct a perfect simulation of the problem - something that was not even remotely conceivable to the ancients. The Greeks (and other ancient cultures) developed arch-building techniques purely by trial-and-error, and they had no idea why things had to be done the way they were. You can easily duplicate this process just by studying an existing arch and copying it.

Billy Brown, MCSE+I