Exceptional Inventions Lost Through Time
“Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics.”
~ Victor Pinchuk
In our times it's easy to believe that we, as human race, have it all. Somewhere in the bottom of our brains there's the abstract awareness of the vast unknown embracing us, yet, in an era in which we've sent machinery twenty thousand million kilometers away from Earth, in where we are able to identify the chemical elements of galaxies and nebulas light years from home, an era in which we've created a web of data and knowledge through electricity and binary sequences, in which we can print objects from scratch in a matter of minutes and we can duplicate cells and tissue... In an age such as this is hard to believe there could be inventions from the past we are still unable to recreate. But, as always, history and the world surprise us. The following list is a minuscular summarization of devices, extraordinarily ahead of their times, formulated through the centuries by our forebears.
Many of them remain as a riddle to the modern sciences of engineering and chemistry, leaving us exposed face to face to each and all the things we still can't, and perhaps will never be, able to do.
The Greek Fire remains as one of the greatest kept secrets of all time, it was developed around 672 AD. by the Byzantines. This mysterious and lethal weapon was similar to a flamethrower, however the fires it expelled not only burned over water but they couldn't be extinguished with anything that wasn’t sand, vinegar or urine, items scarce in the sea.
Many adversaries stole small quantities of the mixture, but none was able to copy it’s complex brew. The power of this weapon was such that, when a man became Emperor of the Easter Roman Empire, he was forced to vow three things:
1. Never surrender Constantinople.
2. Never abandon the Orthodox Church.
3. Never reveal the formula of Greek Fire.
And this way - as the empire crumbled, the Byzantine civilization took the secret to the grave.
The Antikythera Mechanism
Possibly the most magnificent artifact in the history of humanity, the Antikythera mechanism is a 2000 - 2200 year old analog computer, designed to rigorously predict each and every known astronomical event.
This labyrinthic clock could anticipate with absolute exactitude irregular motions of the Moon, Sun and plantes, along with the cycle of the ancient Olympic Games. How? Nobody really knows.
4th-century Nanotechnology: The Lycurgus Cup
The early history of this rare piece is unknown. Invented in Rome or Alexandria sometime in between the years 290-325 AD, the Lycurgus Cup is one of the most gorgeous and remarkable objects ever crafted.
It was created out of a highly complicated mixture of infinitesimal nanoparticles of gold and silver, dispersed with pin-point accuracy throughout glass. The result is a crystal cup which shines in variant colors depending on how light falls upon it; lift from behind, the cup will glow in shades of red - lit from the front, the goblet will glare incalculable tints of green.
Round about 1700 years have passed since its invention and still, until this moment, the process remains unrepeatable.