Re: Pyramidiocy (was Re: Strange Maths)

Nathaniel Tagg (
27 Jul 1995 02:38:37 GMT

Kevin D. Quitt ( wrote:
: Moving the blocks that make up the pyramids is no big deal.
: Imagine a pair of wooden wheels on a short, thick axle. The
: axle is the carved (or partially carved) block, and the wheels
: are circles with a large square cut out of the middle. With
: such a device, a single person could move the block several miles
: in a single day (on a hrad, flat road). By wrapping ropes around
: the block, attached to points on the wheels, you can drag the whole
: thing on sand, uphill, etc. Make the wheels fat for soft ground
: and narrower for hard ground.
: Mystery solved. Now go home.

Actually, the case is much harder than this. Those blocks wiegh
several tonnes each; wood axles can snap under the load. More
important is lifting these stones several stories up without the aid of a
modern crane.
I saw a PBS show a couple of years ago where they attempted to
build a small (10' high) pyramid with similar technology. They managed
to do it. Firstly, you use a clay and timber ramp system. The ramp has
railroad ties along it, crosways, and the 'brick' is on a wooden sled.
With a little water applied to the wood and clay, there is little
friction and you can haul them up the ramp with a dozen people or so.
Also, you can lever up a brick (one side lifted by lever, shove in a
wedge, lift the other side, shove it a wedge, etc) to lift it vertically.

They had to invent some pretty interesting techniques to do it;
it wasn't simple.

--- Nathaniel

Nathaniel Tagg Physics grad student University of Guelph
"The chances of a neutrino actually hitting something as it
travels through all this howling emptiness are roughly comparable to that
of dropping a ball bearing at random from a cruising 747 and hitting,
say, an egg sandwich." -- Douglas Adams, _Mostly_Harmless_