Jack Lindsay (19001990) studied at Brisbane Grammar School and Queensland University, where he obtained a First Class degree in Classics. He wrote more than sixty books, including Men and Gods on the Roman Nile and The Origins of Alchemy in Graeco-Roman Egypt. Among his well-known translations are the Trojan War plays of Euripides, the poems of Catullus, and Apuleius’s The Golden Ass.
Blast-Power and Ballistics: Concepts of Force and Energy in the Ancient World (Barnes & Noble Rediscovers Series)by Jack Lindsay
Even in the most primitive societies, men are captivated by the concept of blast-power. Observing the effects of thunderstorms and lightning, and appraising these as the manifestations of their god or gods, primitive peoples attempt to harness such forces through the rituals of magic, inducing in themselves the belief that they can, through these arcane powers,
Even in the most primitive societies, men are captivated by the concept of blast-power. Observing the effects of thunderstorms and lightning, and appraising these as the manifestations of their god or gods, primitive peoples attempt to harness such forces through the rituals of magic, inducing in themselves the belief that they can, through these arcane powers, strike enemies dead at a distance.
As a primitive society gains some degree of technological refinement, the practical realization of that ancient dream becomes progressively more possible: where before there was the thrown object, the bow-and-arrow appears, and eventually the ballista. It is this stage of development that Jack Lindsay most closely examines in Blast-Power and Ballistics, originally published in 1974.
The physical sciences in the ancient world had their origins almost exclusively in philosophical speculation rather than experimentation: indeed, those who attempted to realize in practice their theoretical deductions were considered to be in some way inferior to the theoriststo be mechanics rather than true scientists. The only field in which physical science was transformed into technology, beyond the construction of toys, was that of warfare. Theorists designed war machines for others to construct, and engineers revised, modified, and improved their equipment.
In some ways, the ancient theorists were surprisingly accurate, but in almost all ways their thinking tended to be at least colored, if not wholly motivated, by their concept of blast-powera leftover from more primitive times. Lindsay maintains that we still have not lost our millennia-old adherence to the principle and desire of blasting enemies at a distance, and that modern developments such as the atom bomb are merely logical extensions of such devices as the incendiary arrow or, further back, the thrown stone. It is in this light that he critically examines the main lines of scientific development, up to recent times.
Praise for Blast-Power and Ballistics:
“A good overview, which also contains a great deal more than what one would expect from the title.”Professor T.E. Rihll, Greek Science
From Blast-Power and Ballistics:
“Nothing could more clearly bring out the differences between ancient and modern attitudes to nature than the uses made of the concept of energy. On the one hand we have the complex philosophical concept of energeia in Aristotle; on the other, the concept of the body’s power of doing work by virtue of its motion, which Carnot and Joule elaborated in the first half of the nineteenth century.”
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