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Rants, Raves, Interesting Science & Awful Puns
January 20, 2000

Pharoah's Water Pump

Perpetual Motion?

At a convention recently, Robert Bauer Jr. gave me a fascinating explanation of the Great Pyramid as a huge pump for raising water out of the Nile. Lighting a fire in a specially designed chamber at the top of one of the sloping galleries would produce a partial-vacuum from oxygen depletion sufficient to pull in quantities of water and discharge at a higher level through an ingenious arrangement of interconnecting chambers and valves. For a full explanation and working model, visit http://www.thepump.org/

[Thought: Presumably, the hydraulics expert who designed this was a Pharaoh faucet major. . .]

Note added May 18, 2000

An astute-eyed mechanical engineer by the name of Des Kavanagh has drawn my attention to the fact that the site has been changed since I posted the above. The original made reference to a fire being lit in the upper chamber to generate a suction lift by creating a partial vacuum.

The new version makes not reference to this, but instead says, This pump is a great improvement over hydraulic Ram Pumps. All water that enters the pump is pumped up. Figure below shows one application of this versatile and efficient water pump. Des points out, "Basically, a ram pump uses the energy in flowing water to raise a small sidestream to a higher level. Very low volumetric efficiency, but zero running costs. The 'device' on the page violates the First Law of thermodynamics, which is the law of conservation of mass/energy. Such a contraption is affectionately known as 'A Perpetual motion machine of the first kind.'

Actually, I'm not persuaded that it had anything to do with being a pump. Cutting and laying six million tons of rock seems an incredibly wasteful investment to produce a water pump. It just seemed an interesting thought to pass on.

All the same, the incredible precision and lack of embellishment of the construction (and numerous others around the world) do suggest more some kind of machine or scientific instrument than elaborate tombs. (No bodies were ever actually found in the pyramids. The evidence for their being built by the Egyptians turns out to be astoundingly slender and very suspect.) I find I'm sympathetic to the arguments of people like Graham Hancock who believe that these structures date from much earlier than dynastic Egypt and the other dates conventionally attributed. For those curious to learn more, I'd offer Hancock's Fingerprints of the Gods as a good book to start with.

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