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Al Jazari’s Castle ClockWatch Video Play online
Students in Dr. Fishwick’s joint Fall 2013 ATEC/CS class on modeling and simulation collaborated to create models, and a working simulation, of Al Jazari’s castle clock written about in 1206. The castle clock was a water clock with a structure involving water flowing from a tank. The flow was regulated and caused a chain reaction of events, including the telling of the time through a moving crescent, one mannequin moving through the door each hour, robotic musicians, and the sound of falcon automata dropping metal balls into vases.
The idea behind this class project blended together culture, history, horology, science, and mathematics. The course covered elements of computing inherent within the clock’s functioning. For example, Al Jazari’s introduction of a cam drive represents a mechanical equivalent of a switching device. Students developed several different models of the clock’s geometry and dynamics, with each model serving as a different interpretation of the clock. Details on the class output can be found on Fishwick’s website.