Monday, August 12, 2013

Chandaran Scientific Instruments

Part of the fun of fantasy worldbuilding is dreaming up plausible artifacts. 

In Dinotopia's eastern capital of Chandara, the imperial academy includes an assortment of scientific instruments, which Arthur Denison records in detail in his journal.
An orrery, which models the movement of the earth and moon around the sun. The base is a turtle, inspired by the World Turtle mytheme.
an astrolabe, which measures star positions to aid in navigation;  
a cylindrical music player like the Edison phonograph with an ammonite horn...
and a clockwork world map which demonstrates the movement of floating continents. 

Here's what Denison's journal looks like, where these drawings were recorded. This is built from cast latex, brass, and copper over a real antique book. I made it as a display prop for a Dinotopia art exhibition at the Smithsonian.
Order a signed copy of Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara (2007)


Tom Hart said...

These are wonderful! I was about to ask if you'd ever been tempted to manufacture any of these when I came to the "real" journal.

Since my son turned me on to Terry Pratchett's Discworld series recently, the turtle theme really rang a bell. Are you familiar with TP's writing? Very creative and funny stuff.

David Glenn said...

Very interesting. I remember a friend suggested that maybe people in other worlds reached some levels of technology that we have yet to reach and some may have gotten some sooner than we did. It's very interesting to come up with what people have and don't have in other worlds.

Eric said...

Love these! I bet it must be fun to dream up such a wonderful place, and then have the opportunity to share it with the world.

Dinotopia reminds me a bit of Gondal, which was also a make-believe island dreamed up by the Brontë sisters of literary fame.

Mikhail P. Schalk said...

These are awesome designs. They'd make great 3D printing projects. It'd be a model challenge with all those moving parts, but definitely do-able. The world map, and solar simulators would especially be cool to have.

They'd have to painted after printing out of course, if it was done through a service like Shapeways, as the stronger materials won't print in mutli-color.

I'd be interested in any design sketches or background research you did on these. How does an astrolabe work? That thing looks like it would be fun as an app. There are tons of astronomy apps, but none that really help you learn the stars for yourself like something like that would probably force you to.

Michael said...

That's why I put turtles in this piece of mine:

"Turtles all the way down," or "The Infinite Turtle Theory," refers to the infinite regression problem in cosmology posed by the Unmoved mover paradox. The phrase was popularized by Stephen Hawking in 1988. The "turtle" metaphor in the anecdote represents a popular notion of a "primitive cosmological myth", the flat earth supported on the back of a World Turtle.

Stephen Hawking's 1988 book "A Brief History of Time", starts:

Well-known scientist Bertrand Russell once gave a public lecture on astronomy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" "You're very clever, young man, very clever", said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down!"


BTW: The first commenter, Daniel Suelo is famous for living without money for over ten years now and leaves a wonderful poetic interpretation.