Time keeping by Nomography

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Let the Sun shine in!

Last time I presented a link to the fascinating world of graphical calculations known as Nomography.

Now in Steampunk there is an emphasis on the mechanical. Time keeping being probably the greatest illustration of this. From tiny mechanical watches to massive clockwork calculating machines the imagery of gears and clocks are everywhere. But there are older ways of measuring time, using the motion of the Earth and the apparent motion of the Sun and other heavenly bodies with sundials and sextants, astrolabes etc.

This paper has some exotic patterns and calculations for devices that would make wonderful additions to our gadgets: 

Regiomontanus, Apian and Capuchin Sundials by Fer J. de Vries, Mac Oglesby,William S. Maddux and Warren Thom

So how would using this old "primitive" technology be used in Steampunk?

Perhaps hidden in our Mad Scientist's notebooks, or printed on our clothing, buried in the shapes on our gadgets, or or on the covers of our children's beds.  The mathematics used in creating these designs and the decorative possibilities of the shapes and patterns, while actually being usable to tell time, would make for some interesting hidden "conceits" don't you think?

Here is an actual card sundial from 1533.
Yes this is "primitive" in the sense that it is not mechanically complex but there is an elegance of form to the curves and shapes.

Elegant AND functional, scientific and technical, the Steampunk aesthetic on display indeed.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed, and your water iced.


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