34 episodes

I Can't Believe That Happened, a children's podcast every week full of interesting moments in History.
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I Can't Believe That Happened History Podcast for Kids Monica Michelle

    • Education

I Can't Believe That Happened, a children's podcast every week full of interesting moments in History.
See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    Chess Playing Turk Chess Automaton That Fooled The World

    Chess Playing Turk Chess Automaton That Fooled The World

    The Chess Playing Turk Automaton
    The magic trick that astounded the world was not made by a magician. It was not even intended to be a magic trick. It was a challenge and from the challenge one of the most interesting stories about magic and robots came to be.


    Maria Theresa of Austria had a performance planned for her court in 1769 to watch a demonstration of magnetic tricks.Her counselor, a Hungarian scientist Wolfgang Von Kempelen was unimpressed and said he could do better He returned in 1770 to perform, the creation took him six months.Created a life-size automaton. The Turkish chess player. He showed the court all of the mechanics. All the court saw was the gears and rods that would make the automaton move. The automaton was wound up ready to play, and a member of the court was chosen to play chess against the automaton.The court reported to hearing whirrs and clicks as the automation moved its' pieces.The automaton nodded twice to signal the check and three times for checkmate off its' opponent.The chess-playing Turk Automaton gathered many famous challengers playing and defeating Benjamin Franklin and Napolean Bonaparte. Edgar Allan Poe wrote an essay about the automaton.Wolfgang was not a magician he was a naturalist, a scientist, an architect, and a hydraulic engineer.The automaton had a long “life” touring Europe and the Americas for 84 years.The device was later purchased in 1804 and exhibited by Johann Nepomuk Mälzel. Maazel installed a voice box in the automaton that would say check whenever it cornered its’ opponent's king. Maazel set up the game with Napolean. It was said that the emperor, who ultimately lost, attempted to cheat multiple times with the automaton shaking its’ head and placing the chess piece back where it had been.How did a machine play chess? How did it account for variables and strategy? You are going to have to think outside the box to solve this puzzle. If you did not guess don’t feel badly. This automaton confounded most of the world. The gears were a front. A hidden cabinet exited where a very small chess master could fit inside the secret compartment and play using puppeteering levers and dangling metal discs that were attracted to the magnets at the base of the chess pieces. The chess masters who secretly operated it included Johann Allgaier, Boncourt, Aaron Alexandre, William Lewis, Jacques Mouret, and William Schlumberger, but the operators within the mechanism during Kempelen's original tour remain a mystery.The illusion was completely shattered when Maelzel died unexpectedly in 1838 and the automaton was taken by one of his creditors.The original automaton was destroyed in a fire but there are reproductions. John Gaughan spent a reported 120,000 to build his own version in 1984. It uses the original chess board which had not been destroyed in the fire. It ran not with a human chess master but with a computer running a chess program.

    Bibliography:
    Magic 1400’s-1950’s 
    Daniel, Noel Caveney, Mike Jay, Ricky and Steinmeyer Jim 
    Taschen
    Wikipedia
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Turk
     
     

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    • 12 min
    The History of Robots- The Silver Swan-

    The History of Robots- The Silver Swan-

    Created by
    Name: John Joseph Merlin (1735-18030)
    Apprentice to James Cox.Musical inventor, created a museum called Merlin's Mechanical Museum in Princes Street
    In the 1760’s created something like inline skates but forgot a braking system, he tested these two-wheel skates at a party while playing a violin where he became closely acquainted with a large and expensive mirror.
     and James Cox ( 1723-1800)
    An incredible businessman who reminds me of P.T Barnum. He ran the most expensive museum called the Cox museum. The goal of the museum was to attract royal patrons.
    The Swan was created by Merlin and Cox in 1773
    The swan was described in a 1773 Act of Parliament as being 3 feet (0.91 m) in diameter and 18 feet (5.49 m) high.
    It is life-size
    The swan is no longer this tall which brings the question if there was a second swan that might be lost or stolen like the waterfall that was behind the swan that was stolen while the swan was on tour.
    The swan automata has a long and interesting history. It was exhibited at the Paris World’s Fair n 1867 and was bought and sold many times. 
    The swan was admired by Mark Twain during its’ display at the Paris International Exposition of 1864,
    ‘I watched the Silver Swan, which had a living grace about his movement and a living intelligence in his eyes - watched him swimming about as comfortably and unconcernedly as it he had been born in a morass instead of a jeweler’s shop - watched him seize a silver fish from under the water and hold up his head and go through the customary and elaborate motions of swallowing it...'
    When the crank is turned the swan looks around itself then preens its’ silver feathers. It then swings its’ head around searching for the silver fish in the waves of glass. When she finds her prey she swoops down grabbing the wriggling fish in her mouth
    Most recently restored 40 years ago, there are three separate clockwork motors. One is for the music, activating steel hammers that strikeout eight tinkling tunes. Another creates the illusion of the babbling brook and its darting fish. A series of camshafts, rollers, and levers rotate twisted glass rods on which seven fish are attached. During the restoration, it was discovered that instead of heading in the same direction, three of the fish were meant to swim forward, the rest backward. It is thought that three of the fish are from the 18th century and four from the 19th.
    Bowes bought the swan in 1873 for $318 roughly $32,000 today.
    Due to the current pandemic, it looks like the swan might need some more work. During normal times the museum had the swan’s feeding schedule set for 2 PM every day. Since the pandemic, the swan was shut down, once the museum reopened there seems to be a problem with starting the swan back up.
    Hopefully, this stunning automata will be back in working order soon!
    The swan can be visited at the Bowes Museum in County Durham

    Bibliography
    https://www.thebowesmuseum.org.uk/Collection/Explore-The-Collection/The-Silver-Swan#
    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/robotic-silver-swan-has-fascinated-fans-nearly-250-years-180962024/
    https://www.cultofweird.com/curiosities/silver-swan-automaton/
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324355904578159601753981708#:~:text=Bowes%20bought%20it%20in%201872,Clock%20in%20the%20Hermitage%2C%20St.

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    • 11 min
    History of Robots: Jaques de Vaucanson :Pooping Robot Duck & the Flute Playing Automaton

    History of Robots: Jaques de Vaucanson :Pooping Robot Duck & the Flute Playing Automaton

    Jaques de Vaucanson

    Early Life:

    Jaques de Vaucanson was born in Grenoble, France in 1709 
    10th child to a poor family of glove makers
    Jaques wanted to become a clock maker as a child. His mother being very religious took Jaques to church with her. While she was in confession Jaques would watch the clock until he memorized its’ mechanisms to such perfection he was able to recreate it at home.
    When Jaques father died when he was seven he was sent to live and train with the Jesuits. It was a difficult place for Jaques and he did poorly unable to concentrate on lessons. He was even punished for having cogs and wheels to create a boat in his possessions. There was a stand off with the priests where he refused to learn until a teacher would help him make a boat that could cross the pond. After being punished a math teacher and monk decided to help Jaques.
     Later he became reacquainted with his love of mechanics after meeting the surgeon Claude-Nicolas Le Cat this is where his love of anatomy came from that will feature in his work.
    At 18 he had his first automaton workshop in Lyon in 1727. Jaques created a robot that would serve the dinner and clear the table. Instead of being impressed one of the politicians found the robot to be an insult to the natural order and demanded the workshop to be destroyed.
    This era was the time of the robots. They were all the rage in the royal courts though were often classified as toys or games.
    Jaques was also greatly admired by the famous minds of his time. Voltaire even called him a "new Prometheus". 

    Robots:
     


    The Flute Player
    The flute player while a marvel was Jaques first steps into creating not just a robot that would perform tasks but a robot that could imitate life. In 1737 the flute player was made as a life size Shepard that could play 12 songs.
    It is said that the flute player came to him in a fevered dream during a four month illness.
    Vaucanson had been told by a musician that the most difficult instrument to play and tune was a flute. The challenge was set and he decided to make an automaton that would not just mimic playing but would actually play the most difficult instrument.
    This is what made the flute player unique in a court full of interesting automata was that the machine was playing the music as if it were alive using fashioned lungs that created the breath, fingers that moved, and a mouth that created the shapes need to make the music. The robot was playing the flute in an approximation of how a human would. He also created a tambourine player and a pipe and drum player based on the same principles.


    The Digesting Duck:


    When attendance and money fell of from his musicians in 1739, Jaques turned to something entirely new, the digesting Duck.
    “…it was the same size as a living duck. It could drink, muddle the water with its beak, quack, rise and settle back on its legs and, spectators were amazed to see, it swallowed food with a quick, realistic gulping action in its flexible neck.” Gaby Wood
    It is important to say the duck would grab pellets from the hands of visitors, gulp the food down a tube where the pellets would be “digested” in the duck’s stomach and then the duck would poop out the food. The entire food cycle in a robot duck all to the hilarity and enraptured crowd of France.




    Research: 

    This Eighteenth-Century Robot Actually Used Breathing to Play the Flute
    By Kat Eschner
    SMITHSONIANMAG.COM 
    FEBRUARY 24, 2017
     Living Dolls: A Magical History Of The Quest For Mechanical Life by Gaby Wood The Gaurdia





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    • 13 min
    The History of Robots: Leonardo Da Vinci: Robot Knight, Self-Driving Cart, and Robot Lions:

    The History of Robots: Leonardo Da Vinci: Robot Knight, Self-Driving Cart, and Robot Lions:

    Please Hit That Subscribe & Like. Remember, sharing is caring.
    Leonardo DaVinci’s Robots History Podcast for Kids. Robot Lion, first self-driving cart, and robot lion all from the 1400’s! Share and press like.
    Early Life: 1452- 1519 born into a challenging circumstance in Florence, Italy, but was given an apprenticeship at a painter's studio. Fishing reference.
    Robots:

    Leonardo’s Mechanical Knight: 
    The knight’s existence was discovered in 1957 by historian Carlo Pedretti.
    Designed 1495 wearing German-Italian armor. According to records, it is believed the knight was built and at a celebration for Duke Ludovico Sforza in the court of Milan.
    The knight worked via gear and pulley.
    2002 the knight was rebuilt by robotics expert Mark Rosheim.
    The knight went on to NASA helping in designing the planetary exploration robots.

    Robotic Cart: 1478 the design was based on clock works with the power coming from wound up springs to regulate the cart’s drive mechanism. The direction or steering could be programmed with pegs put in round holes which would guide the carts directions to move at specific times. The drawing were found in the early 1900’s by Girolamo Calvi who dubbed the cart “Leonardo’s Fiat.”
    In 2004 a working replica was made in Florence at 1:3 scale.
    Take a look at these and then look up the Mars Land Rover.
    Recreations and Applications to Current Robotics: 
    Da Vinci Lions:According to records he built two automated lions for the French King Louis XII in 1509. It is said that one could rear up on their hind legs and present lilies (the flower of France). The second was a gift to Francois I when he visited, you guessed it Lyons (a city in France) in 1515. The King was so impressed with his new mechanical pet he offered Leonardo a permanent home in the French court.
    Unlike the cart and the knight, we have far more records of the lions. Michelangelo wrote on the second lion’s abilities and design.
    The lion was powered by a key capable of 10 steps before needing to be turned again. 
    In 2019 the lion was remade for The Italian Culture Institute in Paris. The lion was 10 feet long and 7 feet tall.

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    • 11 min
    The History of Robots: Al Jazari Brilliant Inventor: A History Podcast for Kids and Curious Adults

    The History of Robots: Al Jazari Brilliant Inventor: A History Podcast for Kids and Curious Adults

    Name: Badīʿ az-Zaman Abu l-ʿIzz ibn Ismāʿīl ibn ar-Razāz al-Jazarī
    Early Life :
    Born 1136 CE
    Born in Upper Mesopotamia. Like his father, he served as chief engineer at Artuklu Palace. His book: The Book of knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices includes all we know of al- Jazari's life and only includes inventions he created himself.
    Wrote: The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Device descriptions of over fifty mechanical devices with instructions on how to build them. His book was so important because he wrote it with full instructions, not keeping any trade secrets, a DIY book.
    Famous Inventions:
    The camshaft: this invention is what truly makes something a programmable computer. These are not seen again in Europe until a few centuries later. While we will focus on his Automata he did invent ways to bring water up without electricity.
    Automata: Moving peacock driven by hydropower.
    Musical Robot Band: Remember the can system? Robotic musicians would float on the lake playing music according to which can was put in place. Why the lake? Water power or hydraulic power.
    Clocks:
    Elephant clock
    Castle clock: 11 feet high displayed zodiac, solar, and lunar orbits. The clock had five robot musicians 2 falcons that would drop balls into buses
    Best Website
    to view the book and an easy breakdown for teachers and homeschoolers https://aljazaribook.com/en/
    Bibliography:
    Ben Kingsley describes Al-Jazari's Elephant Clock (1001 Inventions)[FILM] 1001 Inventions and the Library of Secrets - starring Sir Ben Kingsley (English Version)Al-Jazari: The Mechanical Genius
    by Salim Al-Hassani
    https://muslimheritage.com/al-jazari-the-mechanical-genius/

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    • 12 min
    The History of Robots: Hero of Alexandria: History Podcast for Kids and Curious Adults

    The History of Robots: Hero of Alexandria: History Podcast for Kids and Curious Adults

    Lived: 1st century writing between 60-70 AD. 
    Was a student of Ctesibius a man believed to be the head of the Museum of Alexandria. It is thought he was a teacher and lecturer there as well. Historians believe this since his writings appear to be lecture notes. He was also inspired by Inspired by Philo of Byzantium (3 centuries before wrote about the use of trapped and compressed air)
    The museum was described to be a school that taught through experimenting and doing as well as by lecture. “Unusual blend of pure science with engineering . . . [and] applied technology . . . [where] much can be discovered through experiment.”
    Wrote: Automata, the Pneumatica, the Dioptra, the Catoprica and the Mechanical
    Hero used these techniques and expanded on them using water, steam, a need for the inventions, and a sense of humor.
    From amusing tabletops (Hercules stands with a bow on the ground is an apple in front is a tree with a servant. If one lifts the apple Hercules draws his arrow and servant begins to hiss.)
    In his treatise on pneumatics Hero outlines various birds that could move and sing according to which species they were be changing the pressure of air or water or the length of the tube. One of my favorites is the fountain surrounded by songbirds that would trill until an automaton owl would turn and notice them into still silence.
    Hero also created a programmable cart that was powered by a falling weight. The ability for the cart to be programmed was created by strings wrapped around the driving axel. Pay attention to the rest of the book and see how many inventors use this invention as a starting point.
    Hero is credited with the first robot which was used in his mechanical theatre. A theatre that ran a ten-minute play where actors, scenery, and sound were all mechanical and powered by gears and pullies. 
    “Using pegs projecting from the axle, Heron could vary how the rope was wound around the axle, allowing the robot to change direction and move along a pre-programmed course. This primitive mechanism is very similar to a modern binary computer language; old fashioned punch cards operated on exactly the same principle.
    Heron used the same system of ropes, cylindrical axles and knots to create a mechanical play of almost 10 minutes in length, including dropping metal balls onto a sheet of metal to resemble thunder.” Heron's Inventions, Martyn Shuttleworth

    Hero is credited with creating the world’s first: 
    Automatic Door Opener: 
    vending machine
    Steam engine: Described by NASA as a "rocket-like device," Hero's steam engine (called an aeolipile) was essentially:
    A hollow sphere that can rotate about an axis passing through antipodal points, because of steam flowing out through two bend pipes placed at its equator.
    In case you would like to build your own
    Hero gave detailed instructions on how to build one:
    Place a cauldron over a fire: a ball shall revolve on a pivot. A fire is lighted under a cauldron . . . containing water, and covered at the mouth by the lid . . . with this the bent tube . . . communicates, the extremity of the tube being fitted into the hollow ball. . . . Opposite to the extremity . . . place a pivot . . . resting on the lid . .. and let the ball contain two bent pipes, communicating with it at the opposite extremities of a diameter, and bent in opposite directions, the bends being at right angles . . . . As the cauldron gets hot it will be found that the steam, entering the ball . . . passes out through the bent tubes towards the lid, and causes the ball to revolve.
    Mechanical Puppet Theatre: Animated figures acted out a series of dramatic events, including the repair of Ajax's ship by nymphs wielding hammers, the Greek fleet sailing the seas accompanied by leaping dolphins, and the final destruction of Ajax by a lightning bolt hurled at him by the goddess Athena.
    Fire Engine: describ

    • 9 min

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