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WNYC's Radiolab blog and podcast: A Clockwork Miracle

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  • terry foreman
    In 1562, King Philip II needed a miracle. So he commissioned one from a highly-skilled clockmaker. In this short, a king s deal with God leads to an intricate
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 19, 2011
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      In 1562, King Philip II needed a miracle. So he commissioned one from a highly-skilled clockmaker. In this short, a king's deal with God leads to an intricate mechanical creation, and Radiolab's Jad Abumrad heads to the Smithsonian to investigate.

      When the 17-year-old crown prince of Spain, Don Carlos, fell down a set of stairs in 1562, he threw his whole country into a state of uncertainty about the future. Especially his father, King Philip II, who despite being the most powerful man in the world, was helpless in the face of his heir's terrible head wound.

      Contributor Latif Nasser, a graduate student in the History of Science Department at Harvard, explains that when none of the leading remedies of the day--bleeding, blistering, purging, or drilling--helped, the king enlisted the help of a relic...the corpse of a local holy man who had died 100 years earlier. Then, Philip II promised that if God saved his son, he'd repay him with a miracle of his own.

      Elizabeth King, a professor at Virgina Commonwealth University, describes how Philip II held up his end of the bargain with the help of renowned clockmaker, and an intricate invention. Jad and Latif head to the Smithsonian to meet curator Carlene E. Stephens, who shows them the inner workings of a nearly 450-year-old monkbot.

      http://www.radiolab.org/blogs/radiolab-blog/2011/jun/14/clockwork-miracle/

      Also see Part III of Elizabeth King's "Clockwork Prayer: A Sixteenth-Century Mechanical Monk"  http://www.blackbird.vcu.edu/v1n1/nonfiction/king_e/prayer_6.htm

      The Table of Contents:  http://www.blackbird.vcu.edu/v1n1/nonfiction/king_e/prayer_toc.htm
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