Answers Raise Questions. There is ample historic evidence that for centuries kites have served a variety of purposes aside from providing relaxing entertainment. They were used as instruments of war. They were used to deliver messages behind enemy lines. And now scientists are experimenting with kites to solve a centuries old historic mystery.
The Greek historian Herodotus, who lived from 484 to 425 B.C., is credited with composing the list, and describing what has come to be known as the seven wonders of the ancient world. Only one of these marvels remain, the Great Pyramid of Giza. Until 1311, it was recognized as the world’s tallest structure.
Answers Raise Questions. The seven wonders of the ancient world were man made creations that inspired awe. Even decades after they were abandoned, and were collapsing into ruins, they inspired were destinations for legions of adventurers.
The pyramids stand as a tangible link to the engineering skills of the ancient Egyptian’s. And the pyramid as well as weathered towering monuments and statuary scattered throughout the Egyptian desert stand in mute testimony to the power of this ancient empire.
The massive scale of the pyramids and these monuments has fueled wild speculation for thousands of years. Aside from stories about aliens from space, or anti gravitational devices, the general consensus has been that there was a simple answer to the riddle. Most scholars are of the opinion that the Great Pyramid was built by thousands of workers using brute force, rollers, and ramps.
But this makes construction of the pyramid even more amazing. It is estimated that the structure is built of more than 2,300,000 limestone and granite blocks. The average weight is estimated at 2.5 tons per block.
Recently researchers from Caltech working in the desert near Palmdale, California tested a theory that is more radical than aliens or transport beams. Mory Gharib, a Caltech aeronautics professor, postulated that kites were used to move monuments and massive stones.
To put the theory to the test, Gharib and his small team raised a 6,900-pound, 15-foot obelisk into vertical position. They used nothing but a specially designed kite, a pulley system, and a support frame on day when winds were gusting in excess of 20 miles per hour.
In an interview Emilio Castano Graff, the Caltech student who led the project, said, “Maybe there were creative thinkers who figured it out, and the Egyptians didn’t just use brute force. This doesn’t prove the Egyptians used kites to build the pyramids, but it shows that it is possible to use the energy of the wind to lift heavy objects.”
The team learned that the key was in steering the kite to harness and magnify the wind power. They calculated that a wind gust of just twelve miles per hour were all that was needed to generate the lift. After some trail and error the team completed the task. The obelisk was lifted into a vertical position in an astounding 25 seconds.
Tumbleweeds and Tarantulas, a pioneer in supplying kites and supplies online, may not be able to provide what you need for pyramid building. But they can definitely supply you with everything needed to enjoy a relaxing afternoon spent sending a kite high into the bright blue sky.
Written by Jim HInckley of Jim Hinckley’s America