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The Clock of Crocodilo by Mihangel


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Mihangel has a knack of being able to tell interesting stories. He also has a knack of being able to tell interesting history. What is infuriating for many other writers is that somehow he seems to be able to combine the two in one with ease - it is enough to make one sick with envy at his ability.

In this story we get both an interesting story well told and a lesson in history. Ancient history, specifically Greek and Roman has been an interest of mine since doing it for A levels many years ago. As a result I thought I was fairly knowledgable about the period - especially about Roman Egypt. Reading this showed me just how much I did not know and how much more I have to learn.

So I strongly recommend that you read this story. It is both entertaining and informative and I am sure you will learn something that you did not know before. You can find it here:

http://www.awesomedude.com/mihangel/the-clock-of-crocodilo/the-clock-of-crocodilo.htm

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​How very simple it is to tell time in our modern age, you only have to look at your watch. The story Mihangel tells is about a place in history where the desire to know the measure of time was far from simple, and yet the creative forces of the human mind came up with an answer.

​The very nature of this story lends itself to a scholarly revelation of just what it took to mark time in the ancient world. Without a doubt the Greek and Egyptian science of mathematics made this all possible. Yes, as Mihangel so aptly warns, the story does pull the reader into a classroom of thought on mathematical formulas and usage, but he is forgiven as it drives the story to places unknown.

I always learn something from Mihangel's work and this is no exception. It drove me to spend the time researching the development of the clock, adding to the knowledge this fine author has given us. This ancient clock he describes was only useful when certain parameters were known and it was fragile enough to require a fixed position that didn't move. But the need to tell time evolved to mechanical devices throughout the world, mostly due to the need for sailors to calculate longitude and latitude.

​So look at that small watch on your wrist and marvel at the eons of time it took to develop something so simple. Thanks, Mihangel, well done.

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This is a wonderful story in which entirely plausible characters are assigned an entirely reasonable task and their work is a small contribution to life as we know it.

At the same time, we're reminded that some things never change. Such as the vital importance of the flow of bureaucratic information.

Actually, Chris, sailors were more concerned with longitude, which they could not determine, than with latitude which Cassius had a firm grasp of and didn't need his clock to determine. In 1714, the Admiralty offered a prize of 20,000 GBP for a device that could determine longitude. That would probably be close to twenty million USD in todays purchase power. Quite a prize for a solution to a major problem. (See Sobel, Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Times, Walker & Co., New York)

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This is a wonderful story in which entirely plausible characters are assigned an entirely reasonable task and their work is a small contribution to life as we know it.

At the same time, we're reminded that some things never change. Such as the vital importance of the flow of bureaucratic information.

Actually, Chris, sailors were more concerned with longitude, which they could not determine, than with latitude which Cassius had a firm grasp of and didn't need his clock to determine. In 1714, the Admiralty offered a prize of 20,000 GBP for a device that could determine longitude. That would probably be close to twenty million USD in todays purchase power. Quite a prize for a solution to a major problem. (See Sobel, Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Times, Walker & Co., New York)

This book is available in a number of different editions, even one for the Kindle, on Amazon.com. Search for "Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Times, by Solbel" and you'll find it. (I'm not giving the URL for the page because it will be different in each country that has it's own Amazon.whatever.)

Colin :icon_geek:

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i have been enlightened and entertained.

Like the best tutors, Mihangel, has shown us a new slant on something that we take for granted, explaining in a clear manner (*), then following up with a delightful tale to illustrate the how and the why, piqueing our interest with a number of ideas in other fields of study along the way.

He also shows us that the ancients were a clever bunch. Despite the limitations of the technology available at the time, they were able to come up with an intellectually elegant solution to what is a complicated problem: the division of a day into twelve daylight and twelve night hours no matter how long the period of daylight, showing understanding of the movement of the earth in relation to the sun through a year.

Thank you Mihangel

(*) OK I will admit I did have to read the exposition more than once before I was satisfied I had grasped how things worked.

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Thanks for pointing out this jewel, Nigel. When I first glanced at the title I somehow misconstrued it as The Clock and the Crocodile and honestly thought it would be a Peter Pan parody! Definitely my bad. This is some great work!

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The most eye-opening thing I found in the story was the enormous change in technology over the years. In those days it was necessary to know where you were in order to accurately determine the time. Today we require incredibly precise time measurement to figure where we are!

On the other hand, some things remain the same. Like the jerk of a recruiter who sends you to be stationed 5,000 miles away from home. Gotta love it.

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Thanks, guys, for the kind remarks. If it was fun to read, it was also fun to write. But I'm surprised that Pedro, as a self-confessed Yorkshireman, didn't pick me up on Lossio's Latin spoken with a Yorkshire accent!

I couldn't comment: I might have lived in Yorkshire for 45 of my 62 years but I am not a Yorkshireman, I was born elsewhere. I have just about qualified for my passport.

Anyway, Mihangel, you did forewarn your readers in the preamble and it was an amusing way to illustrate that there must have been regional Latin accents in the Roman Empire. After all look at the variation across the British Empire and its lost colonies.

Now what would the Latin spoken along Sarn Helen have been like?

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I couldn't comment: I might have lived in Yorkshire for 45 of my 62 years but I am not a Yorkshireman, I was born elsewhere. I have just about qualified for my passport.

Understood, Pedro. I've lived here longer even than you have - nearly 49 years - and am still not a Yorkshireman.

Accent along Sarn Helen? Latin with a lilt, I suppose.

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