Re: Information & Power /Alexandria library

Michael S. Lorrey (
Fri, 07 May 1999 10:44:57 -0400

Dwayne wrote:

> "Michael S. Lorrey" wrote:
> > > The lower courses of the Temple of Jupiter at Baalbeck are, according to the
> > > quotes I have seen, too massive to be moved using currently available
> > > technology. Now, these may be quotes from engineers who have vested interests,
> > > or they might be correct.
> >
> > With the horsepower of large bulldozers like a D-9, and since archaeologists have already demonstrated elevating and capping the trilons at Stonehenge with only a few hundred people and simple stone age leverage devices, we could easily build the pyramids over again. As I recall, one gentleman in California or Oregon built a copy of the pyramid, I think at 1/2 scale, in only a few months with a crane. It used stone blocks which were more rough cut than those in Egypt, but that was a cost saving measure, so he did not fit them to the same tolerance. Precision stone cutting is very expensive these days.
> Hey Michael, is it a rhetorical technique of yours to not answer what someone has written, or did you misread what I wrote?
> Feel free to read the paragraph directly above your quote and then comment on it.

The point is that your unsupported assertions that these rocks are 'too massive to be moved using currently available technology' are technically baseless. Moving any object is merely a matter of power x time. Modern engineers, when and if they say that it is 'too massive to move', are usually including in their reasoning that it is 'too massive to move' in a manner that is cost effective for the project at hand. It is far more feasible to pour your rock in situ using reinforced concrete structures than to quarry, cut, and move huge blocks of rock in the modern day. We don't move rocks like that anymore, because it is not cost effective, so there are no modern technologies used in the construction field for utilizing such large rocks. That is not to say that such technologies could not be developed if a requirement were found for such rocks that could not be met with clastic polymerization. That we don't use such old construction methods indicates the primitiveness of using such larg e rocks, and not any indication of 'lost' advanced technologies. Its not advanced if its not as cost effective as modern technologies.

> > > I'd be interested in some comments from some actual engineers, because otherwise
> > > we'll have yet another round of opinion-waving.
> Such as your comment above.

I happen to be an engineer, so nya nya nya nya....

> >
> > That's crap. The Great Pyramid was aligned to the tolerance of the method they used for calculating true north.
> Okay, maybe I didn't express myself properly.
> What I meant was that the base of the pyramid is incredibly square, the edges are very straight (well, they are slightly curved, but the consistency is very accurate), etc. I saw a program on the Pyramids on TV, and they had a civil engineer who quoted alignment accuracy figures for major building projects, and as you know most modern buildings are reasonably square, have straight edges, etc., and he (this engineer has built buildings, so he knew what he was on about) said that he had no idea how to build a building which was as well aligned (erk, terminology fails me) as the Great Pyramid using modern building techniques.
> Now, I'm quoting someone who was mean to be an expert. Please feel free to refute these comments using factual info, not opinions.

As above, buildings are not built to be so square because it is not that necessary. Daily thermal expansion and contraction of the structure is greater than the tolerance to which you ascribe the Great Pyramid to have been built. The Egyptians built it to such tight tolerances out of religious convictions regarding the geometry of the structure, not because of technical needs.

Considering that the Egyptians calculated pi to a high accuracy for the age (out to six or seven decimal places), all that they needed to build the pyramid as square as it is purported to be are three pieces of rope or chain, representing the three sides of a 1:1:2^(1/2) triangle, calculated in lengths to the tolerance of their existing knowledge of geometry. We know they had this knowledge, because the Kings Room and the Queens Room, as well as the 'sarcaphagus' found in the Kings Room all are built with dimensions representing several of the integral ratio triangles, including the 1:2:3^(1/2), the 3:4:5, and the 1:1:2^(1/2).

> I'd personally like to think we can do better than they could, but I have yet to see any hard evidence to support this theory.

The Saturn 5 rockets were over 360 feet tall and were built to within less than 1/4 inch tolerance over the entire length. Similar tolerances are used in the construction of 1100 to 1500 foot long aircraft carriers and container ships, and even tighter tolerances were used in the construction of the super oil rig 'Hybernia'. We can build to whatever tolerances we need. What we don't need, we don't do. It saves lots of money.

> > The the surveying techniques we use today are virtually unchanged from those developed in those ancient times (with the exception of modern optics and lasers). In place of optics, peephole sights were used, which are so accurate that many snipers prefer peepholes to the modern optical scopes. Using a large scale (10' diameter) sundial, some knowledge of astronomy (of which the egyptians were without equal in that day and age), and a peephole sight mounted on a tripod, you could estimate true north with the same accuracy.
> Okay, I didn't mean "aligned with north" I meant "square, even, very accurate corners/edges/angles whatever".

BUilding to tangents is not difficult. Engineers build to the tolerances needed and cost effective.

> > > The vitrified forts in ireland?
> >
> > You mean the mounds? Pure human drudgery moving earth.
> If you don't know what I am referring to, please refrain from commenting.
> *Obviously* I would not bring up mounds of earth in such a discussion now, would I?

I have never heard of any 'vitrified forts' in Ireland, and I study history, with special interest in military history.

> No, not mounds of earth, forts made of rock which has been heated up and fused into glass.
> > Note that the Roman Republic was so adamant about the tolerances of their stone cutting that contractors only got paid 50% of a project cost until the project was still standing 40 years later.
> Really? Do you have primary sources for this? This is *such* an interesting bit of info....

Its rather common knowledge. I learned it in my first civil engineering course in college.

> > Modern developers could not operate with such financial restrictions, nor do we want them to, since the average lifespan of a modern building is around 35 years. They typically either get torn down or destroyed in a disaster or war by then.
> >
> > Proof of the inadequacy of stone construction: The National Cathedral, the last stone construction building in the US, has taken over 70 years to complete.
> I find it highly amusing that you say this after telling us that the life span of a modern building is typically 35 years :-)

Whats so amusing about it? That the builders of the cathedral insisted on finishing a building that is 70 years out of date, when finding skilled stoneworkers is difficult and expensive, drastically increasing the cost of construction?

Mike Lorrey