RE: Information & Power /Alexandria library

Billy Brown (
Fri, 7 May 1999 09:35:48 -0500

Dwayne wrote:
> Are you sure of this? That we can move single objects over
> ground weighing thousands of tons?

Absolutely. A single locomotive engine can haul several tens of thousands of tons, and you can easily reach hundreds of thousands just by ganging several of them together. For that part of the problem it doesn't matter if what you are moving is one big object or a collection of little ones, the problem is the same either way.

You can load a thousand-ton rock onto a carrying platform by building a ramp and using a couple of locomotive engines to drag it (if you want to be sophisticated, you can lubricate the ramp or put rollers under the block to make it move more easily). You haul it off the platform and into position the same way.

Note, by the way, that this is all 19th-century technology. We could probably scale it up quite a bit if we needed to for some reason - probably to millions of tons, and possible to tens of millions.

> "think like the ancients" means "have a casual disregard for human life
> the ability to command tens of thousands of people to do whatever
> the hell you want" :-)

Well, the part I was refferring to was "it doesn't matter if the whole process is really slow". Moving that block at a slow walk is good enough.

> Um, please read my reply to Michael Lorry. I mean the foundations are
> extremely square, edges and corners all line up, etc., to a very tiny
> degree of error.

OK. Different problem, but the answer is the same - we can shape matter to pretty much any degree of precision you want to pay for. Commercial construction techniques aren't up to the job, but that is only because no one wants to pay for that kind of precision anymore.

With scientific equipment you can easily measure off your dimensions with an accuracy of a few millimeters, regardless of how big the structure is. Measuring exact angles is also no big deal - telescope aiming systems routinely point objects in a desired direction with an error of <0.1 arc-second, which is far bette than the pyramids.

If you can make the required measurements, actually building to them is just a matter of money. Either you spend extra time carefully placing your forms before pouring concrete, or you come back afterwards and cut away everythig that isn't supposed to be there.

> Do we? I know we can, but do we? Has anyone done this in practice? The
> engineer I saw quoted said that he builds very large buildings and it
> would be impossible to align an object as large as the Great Pyramid to
> degree it is. Um, I mean, make sure it is square etc. when I say align.

The fact that a TV show dedicated to spreading the "ancient wonder workers" meme was able to find someone to quote really doesn't carry much weight. You can find *someone* who will agree with just about anything. I believe the Flat Earth Society has a couple of members who are engineers, too.

The important question is what the general consensus of the experts is. I looked into this several years ago, and what I found was that the general consensus among archaologists is that there is no big mystery to be explained. In Egypt, Greece and the Middle East they've worked out exactly how just about everything was built, and can sometimes even trace the spread of new techniques from one culture to another across the course of centuries.

In other, less thoroughly studied parts of the world there are still lots of things they haven't figured out. However, the question they ask is not "How could this have been done?", but rather "What exact technigues allowed a few thousand people with hand tools to complete this project in only a few decades?" I never found an example of structure that the experts couldn't fiigure out how to build - and if we know what to do, actually doing it is just a matter of spending enough money.

Billy Brown, MCSE+I