Time For Science!

…or science for time?
We’re moving through the timeline for history studies – last term was pre- to the beginnings of ancient history. This term we’re continuing on to the end of the classical era.
As part of our studies I’ve been using a book called “Ancient Science”, and today we looked at ancient ways of telling the time – a sundial (Egypt) and a water clock (Greece)

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We followed the instructions in the book, and found that our sundials were reading backwards… it seems obvious to me now, but I had forgotten to factor in that we are in the Southern Hemisphere. The book was printed in the Northern Hemisphere, but we needed to turn everything upside-down! 🙂
Added to that was the fact that we hadn’t used the right angle for the triangle in the middle (the gnomon or style) that corresponded with our geographical latitude. For our house, the angle should be 27.4*. Having just looked over the pdf from Queensland University of Technology, I realise that we made another mistake – we rewrote the hours on the base of the sundial, while still pointing the base of the gnomen North. We should have pointed it South…
Our other problem was using a cheap, wonky compass. The above photo was slightly out – it should have shown the time as round about 11.30am.

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Here they are, corrected.

Our second project was the water clock, called “clepsydra” (literally “water-thief”) by the Greeks. It works on the principle that water flows at a regular rate, and uses marks on a receptacle that show the water flow for regular intervals (our book said to mark out each minute; we marked each 30 seconds). We had some issues with the water flow with this, as we followed the (misleading) illustration in the book. It showed the hole used as being slightly above the base, but probably would have worked better being at the base…

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Here’s the (sorry-blurry 🙂 ) results…

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A fun day today – and a good opportunity to learn from mistakes!

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Published in: on May 6, 2015 at 6:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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