Wednesday, March 18, 2009


The building blocks of pyramids

I was reading stuff on some website about how the blocks for the pyramids in Egypt were moved from the quarry, and it makes some sense. Basically you move the blocks by rolling them over a track consisting of half-circles. But it turns out, they're not quite circle sections but catenarys instead. And the guy on the site was going on about how they'd calculate or evaluate to go from a half-circle approximation to a catenary. The way I look at it, the guy was wasting his time. In addition to rulers and other such drafting equipment, what did the Egyptians of the time have plenty of? What forms a natural catenary when suspended between two points? Duh! They used a piece of rope as reference for making this. You get a rope such that the length is equal to the side of the block you're moving. Then you make a square guide out of wood with the sides equal to those of the block you're going to roll. Angle the square such that the corner is like a pivot, then adjust the rope such that both ends are level on each leg of the sqare and that its center just rests on the ground. Pile up some planks behind that, trace the catenary made by the rope over, and there ya go. Not much math to it. Then once you cut the planks to that shape, bind them together and make some duplicates. Lie them down with the curved part facing up, and roll your blocks over those pivots like the logical theory says...

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