JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 901
treadmill-powered French pontoon dredge, printed around 1745, looks for all the
world as though it is floating in mid-air, propelling itself along with two
bucket-ended legs, elegantly and impossibly moving its miracle-y-balanced self
forward against all forms of reason and logic, a clunky 18th century
non-transforming Transformer. The
profile actually and simply shows a dredge at work and just fails to show the water in which it
The boat’s dredge is powered by four humans in two treadmills which would move the buckets back and forth, scraping up the river silt and then emptying it into the shuttle launch aft. Simple and ingenious—except when taken out of context, where it begins to look like some advanced Age of Reason floating boat which, although awkward-looking, is not without its charm.
Source: Charles Singer, History of Tecnology, volume IV, pg. 634. Singer loftily notes that this machine “is reminiscent of Goethe’s poem Der Zauberlehring which inspired Paul Dukas’s well known symphonic poem L’apparenti sorcier” and which would be better known to most folks as Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice gig in Fantasia.