Archive for August, 2007

Clockpunk and Storing Energy

Although this stuff is somewhat old buy, dating back to 2004, I recently came across it so here it is. Someone at the HJO3 Project put up some ideas related to Clockpunk. The idea seems to be that in punk genres one of the things that drives the story is how power is stored or utilized and Clockpunk is no exception to this rule. Its an interesting read and here is what they have to say.

I was thinking about the differences between steampunk and “clockpunk” settings and an episode of Scientific American Frontiers about hydrogen-powered cars. On the program, they kept pointing out that hydrogen wasn’t a power source—it’s a method of storing power. Clockwork is the same way; it only acts like a battery. Well, for clockpunk, that means that everything will be ultimately powered by steam anyway (though I suppose it could be powered by human effort, but there’s something… lame about making thousands of people spend most of their time winding or pedaling things to do cool stuff). Anyway, what if you dropped perpetual motion into the setting? It wouldn’t necessarily mean free energy; you could say that complicated clockwork machines just amplify force and perhaps come up with a reason why recursive feedback (i.e. feeding an amplifier’s output back into itself) is impossible. Then you could have, for example, two-seater airplanes powered by a single guy pedaling, or cars that only require a few minutes of winding to run for hours. The “black box” amplifiers could be called “antirecursive kinetic augmentation dynamos” or something, as long as it’s technobabbly and vaguely Victorian.

The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project


Just came across the official website of the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project. It is the website of the scientists and scholars who are studying the Antikythera Mechanism. Here is a description of the project from the website.

More than a hundred years ago an extraordinary mechanism was found by sponge divers at the bottom of the sea near the island of Antikythera. It astonished the whole international community of experts on the ancient world. Was it an astrolabe? Was in an orrery or an astronomical clock? Or something else? For decades, scientific investigation failed to yield much light and relied more on imagination than the facts. However research over the last half century has begun to reveal its secrets. It dates from around the 1st century B.C. and is the most sophisticated mechanism known from the ancient world. Nothing as complex is known for the next thousand years. The Antikythera Mechanism is now understood to be dedicated to astronomical phenomena and operates as a complex mechanical “computer” which tracks the cycles of the Solar System.

Previous researchers have used the latest technologies available to them-such as x-ray analysis-to try to begin to unravel its complex mysteries. Now a new initiative is building on this previous work, using the very latest techniques available today. The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project is an international collaboration of academic researchers, supported by some of the world’s best high-technology companies, which aims to completely reassess the function and significance of the Antikythera Mechanism. Results are already very promising.

The project is under the aegis of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and is supported by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust, UK. It has received strong backing from the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, which is custodian of this unique artefact. Two of the Museum’s senior staff, Head of Chemistry, Eleni Magkou, and Archaeologist, Maria Zafeiropoulou, have co-ordinated the Museum’s side of the project and are actively involved with the research.

One UK and two Greek universities are the core of the academic research group-the astronomer Mike Edmunds and the mathematician Tony Freeth (University of Cardiff), the astronomer John Seiradakis (University of Thessalonica), the astronomer Xenophon Moussas and the physicist, Yanis Bitsakis (University of Athens). And last, but not least, the philologist and palaeographer Agamemnon Tselikas (NBG Cultural Foundation).

The URL for the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project website is as follows:

Memory Cathedral Revisisted

A few years ago Infinity Plus did an interview with Jack Dann who is the author of the Clockpunk novel Memory Cathedral. In the interview Jack goes into details about the background about Memory Cathedral and why the novel is not strictly alternative history but can even be thought of as secret history.

So is this alternate history? I think I am probably picking the nits here, but I would think it is secret history, the history that could have been, but we don’t — or can’t know — if it had been. I excerpted a story from The Memory Cathedral, which I reworked and [to which I] added 5,000 words of new material. It was titled “Da Vinci Rising,” and Gardner Dozois bought it for Asimov’s Science Fiction. In that story I have Leonardo’s flying machine affecting Florentine history, changing history. To my mind “Da Vinci Rising” would be alternative history. Something different from the secret history of The Memory Cathedral.

Check out the interview at the following URL:

August 2007
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