Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What's in a Name?

In October of 1900 sponge fishermen in the Mediteranian were trying to find safety from a storm. They ducked into the shelter of an island until the storm passed. After the skies broke they decided to try their luck in the area. The first diver went down and came up with fear in his eyes. With what must have seemed a halucinating fear to his mates he described a sea floor littered with bodies. The captain was next to dive and he returned with the arm of a bronze statue. The men of that small fishing expedition brought everything they could carry to the surface.

Two years later an archeaologist returned. Much more was found but the crowning interest he discovered on that sea floor was a mechanism in which he could see a gear. The machine was cloaked in mystery. There was not the one gear but several. No one was able to tell this machine's purpose. Originally believed to be an early clock, it was later presumed to be some kind of analog computer. Later studies would show it to be an astronomical tool. You could turn any of the three dials on its surface to calculate the position of the sun and planets for a past or future date. Astoundingly accurate and containing over thirty gears, the tool is credited to have been made by Posidinius around 150-100BC. More amazingly there are two more mentioned in the scrolls of Greece and later the great library of Alexandria. The first is said to have been made by Archimedes.

Now this brings up another point of interest to scooter and motorcycle enthusiasts. Archimedes made the first odometer. There are still mileage markers in existance which were built during the Roman empire. Their distances apart were measured by the same device Archimedes invented. Until recently it was only by evidence of some scroll that such a tool was even thought to exist. The problem was that each attempt to build Archimede's odometer met with failure. Recently a scientist of antiquity discovered how the thing actually worked and built a working model. One interesting part of the design was as so many gears followed a certain pattern of rotation, a stone would drop into a lower box, or tray, signifying one mile for each stone that fell.

Archimedes, father of the Antikythera Mechanism. He who also created a way to measure the distance we travel. Were it not for those fishermen off the island of the same name, would there be any way to know of the genius within this man's thoughts? To imagine just how much depth of understanding lay in his hands, consider that these functioning tools were made how many generations before Da Vinci? A full fifteen hundred years between on great mind and the other.

In this day science is still trying to work out the solutions left by the great authors of design such as Archimedes. If just for another page of discription then we would have what he did, what he meant by thus and such. Just one more scroll or parchment and we could solve another ancient mystery.

That name reminds me of my own insignificance. It also reminds me of the greatness man can create. A tool to set the place of the stars. Another to tell us how far we've come.

Tonight the Vespa has been given a name.


The Roadbum


Combatscoot said...

I like it. It's different, and inspired.
And thank you, for a learned discourse on an interesting subject. One of my riding group, Roger, is an underwater archeologist, and I like to talk to him and hear about his finds.

American Scooterist Blog said...

Thanks John, I didn't think I was going to name the bike because I think its sort of a wierd thing to do. Then I see that name and I can't get past it. The meaning behind it and how it relates to those of us who travel by riding. An incredible story spanning a thousand years. Sometimes you need to hold onto history somehow, to remember it. I am in awe of Archimedes.


Steve Williams said...

Kythera sounds like an appropriate name for a Vespa.

I've thought about a name for mine but nothing feels right so it remains "the Vespa" and "the scooter". Perhaps I can't get engaged with names because of my upbringing. My dad never called me by name. I was always "boy" and remained that until he died. I don't ever remember him calling me Steve. Maybe he didn't like that name....

For a bit of extra Vespa news check out Gary's Mission Creep post on Rush Hour Rambling.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

American Scooterist Blog said...

Steve, I know what you mean about naming bikes. This one happened on some sort of convergence or it would have just been the newer Vespa forever.

I wonder if he'll get grey...? I would get the 250 if it came out in midnight blue though... well I would someday haha.


CodyandMichelle said...

That's just w"ay to deep for me my man :) "My GT, is about all i can handle. I've just never gotton into naming inanimate objects. Heck i never even named my boat :(