An astonishment a day- 
drives your depression away...


The Experiments of Alexander the Great.

Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) traveled through many countries, had opportunities to see many strange and incredible things, and he was a very inquisitive man. In Babylon, he was intrigued by the lightness in the city at night. It was explained to him that this was due to the burning oil from the ground. It seemed so unbelievable to him that a liquid from the ground could be flammable, he set about proving it for himself. He did this with the simplicity of a great ruler. He dunked the head of some boy in oil and set it alight. The result of the experiment was positive - the boy burnt and Alexander the Great believed in the flammability of the liquid from the ground. It was not for nothing that he had been a pupil of the greatest scientist of the time, Aristotle!
These were the times where experimenters had freedom, especially if they were rulers. There was no Green party, no Committee for Ethics in Science etc. Now one must argue with higher powers for even a mouse, and the only chance for bigger experiments is given by a way of war, and that is only with the permission of the UN. 

But Alexander the Great not only experimented on others. He also personally underwent fascinating experiments, or at least this is said by numerous near east legends written in medieval manuscripts. In the attached painting from medieval times we can see Alexander the Great in a bathyscaph. He would take animals under water with him - a cat which is bravely looking a shark in the face, and a rooster. The ruler did not forget about his golden crown and his cresset, which were to give light in the depths of the ocean. Air was pumped to him from the boat, however, even close up we cannot see how the hose was constructed and what sort of pumping mechanism was used. To make it all even more interesting, we can see the vicious Queen as she is about to cut the hose, but this is another story altogether.

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(C) (selected from publications of 
 R. Antoszewski

Titirangi, Auckland, 
New Zeland

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2003

v.16

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