Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Audio story about 400 year old monk automaton

Here is an audio program from NPR's fascinating program, Radiolab. This 20 minute episode tells the tale of a 400 year old monk automaton. The figure is made of wood and iron, stands 15 inches in high, and is powered by a wound spring. When activated, the monk walks, hits his chest with his right arm, moves the wooden cross in his left hand, nods his head, rolls his eyes, and moves his mouth as if in prayer.

The first remarkable thing about this monk automaton is that it is still in working order at the Smithsonian Institution. The second remarkable thing is the sequence of events that led to its creation. To learn more about this, you can listen to the audio clip embedded above, or follow the link below for a lengthy paper on the subject. Both are excellent.

Here is a link to an article on the automaton by Elizabeth King titled Clockwork Prayer: A Sixteenth-Century Mechanical Monk

[ Thanks Michelle! ]

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