By Linda Zimmermann
2011 Silver Medal Winner for Humor, from the self sufficient Publisher's Awards. undesirable technological know-how: a quick background of unusual Misconceptions, completely flawed Conclusions, and exceptionally silly Theories takes a funny examine bloodletting, alchemy, quack units, the worship of meteorites, faked info, mystery checking out on humans, and every kind of truly ridiculous rules. From the traditional Greeks to the current, the background of technology has been fraught with persecution, fraud, and lack of awareness on a big scale--but that doesn't suggest we can't snicker approximately it!
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One technology within which they excelled used to be astronomy. by the point the Spaniards arrived within the 16th century, Mayan texts (or codices) contained tables for predicting eclipses, particular observations and predictions of Venus’ movement, and a 365-day calendar extra actual than its modern ecu counterpart. even if, the Spaniards it seems that didn't enjoy even a unmarried be aware of the amassed wisdom of the Maya and strove to remove all of its old studying. during this reason, one of many Spanish champions of lack of know-how was once Friar Diego de Landa, who by no means hesitated to exploit torture in his holy quest opposed to paganism (i. e. , any ideals except his own). And what he couldn’t eliminate by means of the sword, he destroyed through fireplace. in a single village in 1562, de Landa collected the entire codices (which have been comfortably written on bark) and burned them “since they contained not anything yet superstitions and falsehoods of the satan. ” He recorded that the Maya reacted “most grievously” and with “great ache” on the lack of their books, yet they evidently have been too silly to achieve it was once for his or her personal reliable. So potent used to be this crusade of ebook burning that of the entire codices produced via this historical civilization, in simple terms 4 survived. (Hopefully, negative Friar de Landa didn’t agonize the rest of his lifestyles in regards to the ones that obtained away. ) but, even from simply those 4 codices it's transparent that Mayan astronomers have been one of the such a lot special observers and mathematicians within the heritage of the realm. The indiscriminate destruction in their wisdom earns those Spaniards very black marks within the codices of undesirable Astronomy. Friar Diego de Landa did go back to Spain to face trial for his cruelties perpetrated opposed to the local peoples, yet now not strangely, he was once not just pardoned, he used to be made Bishop of Yucatán. The pious Diego de Landa, who by no means hesitated to torture Mayans who have been hesitant to transform to the loving and compassionate Christian religion. Is anyone domestic? Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855) was once a proficient German mathematician who begun making discoveries in his adolescents and persisted via an extended, illustrious profession. He was once additionally an astronomer, and used to be director of the observatory in Gottingen for forty eight years. His accomplishments position him firmly within the pantheon of geniuses, but on not less than one celebration, Gauss took a mild flight of fancy. Assuming that Mars used to be inhabited, Gauss theorized approximately how lets touch our Martian friends. In 1802, he proposal he had discovered an answer. within the huge tundra zone bordering the Arctic Ocean in Siberia, Gauss proposed that vast figures be drawn into the skin. in fact, those figures must be sufficiently big for Martian telescopes to solve, and so they had to be geometric shapes, so there will be no mistake that they weren't of typical starting place. as though to get one up on Gauss’ “Nazca North” plan, a slightly ludicrous advice was once made in 1874 by way of Charles Cros. simply in case the Martians weren’t having a look our method with telescopes, Cros determined to convey a message to their doorstep, or desolate tract, to be extra actual.