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Types of Hourglass

Before the invention of mechanical clocks, timepieces used the sun's motion or simple measurement devices to track time. The sundial may be the best known ancient keeper of time, and it is still manufactured as a popular garden accessory—but for its visual interest, not for practical time measurement. Stonehenge, the giant monument built of upright stones on the Salisbury Plain of Wiltshire, England, may have been used as a sundial and for other time and calendar purposes. Sundials have obvious disadvantages; they can't be used indoors, at night, or on cloudy days.

Other simple measurement devices were used to mark the duration of time. Four basic types could be used indoors and regardless of the weather or time of day. The candle clock is a candle with lines drawn around it to mark units of time, usually hours. By observing how much of the length of a candle burned in one hour, a candle made of the same material was marked with lines showing one-hour intervals. An eight-hour candle showed that four hours had passed when it had burned down beyond four marks. The clock candle had the disadvantages that any changes in the wick or wax would alter burning properties, and it was highly subject to drafts. The Chinese also used a kind of candle clock with threads used to mark the time intervals. As the candle burned, the threads with metal balls on their ends fell so those in the room could hear the passage of the hours as the balls pinged on the tray holding the candle.

Sand timer hourglass (also called sand glasses and sand clocks) may have been used by the ancient Greeks and Romans, but history can only document the fact that both cultures had the technology to make the glass. The first claims to sand glasses are credited to the Greeks in the third century B.C. History also suggests sand clocks were used in the Senate of ancient Rome to time speeches, and the hourglasses got smaller and smaller, possibly as an indication of the quality of the political speeches.

The hourglass first appeared in Europe in the eighth century, and may have been made by Luitprand, a monk at the cathedral in Chartres, France. By the early fourteenth century, the sand glass was used commonly in Italy. It appears to have been widely used throughout Western Europe from that time through 1500. The hourglass or sand clock follows exactly the same principle as the clepsydra. Two globes (also called phials or ampules) of glass are connected by a narrow throat so that sand (with relatively uniform grain size) flows from the upper globe to the lower. Hourglasses were made in different sizes based on pre-tested measurements of sand flow in different sizes of globes. A housing or frame that enclosed the globes could be fitted to the two globes to form a top and bottom for the metal sand timer and was used to invert the hourglass and start the flow of sand again. Some hourglasses or sets of hourglasses were set in a pivoted mount so they could be turned easily.

The great advances in maritime science occurred in the twelfth century with the development of the magnetic compass in Amalfi, Italy. Other Italian port cities like Genoa and Venice contributed to the astronomical advances in navigation, and, by coincidence, Venice was the world's greatest glass-blowing center. Furthermore, the fine marble dust from the quarries at Carrara was perfect for use as sand in navigational sand clocks. As well as measuring time as distance at sea, hourglasses were used by the navies of several nations to "keep the watch" or measure the time the crew worked. The ship's boy was in charge of turning the hourglass; to get off work early, he would "swallow the sand" or turn the glass before it was empty.

The most extraordinary hourglasses were made as gifts for royalty. Charlemagne (742-814) of France possessed a 12-hour hourglass. In the sixteenth century, Holbein (1497-1543) the artist made spectacular hourglasses for Henry VIII (1491-1547) of England. Other sand glasses contained multiple instruments. For example, a sand glass made in Italy in the seventeenth century contained four glasses. One had one-quarter hour of sand; the second, a half-hour of sand; the third, three-quarters of an hour of sand; and the fourth contained the full hour's measure of sand. Some glasses also had dials with pointers, so, with each turning of the glass, the number of turns could be shown with the pointer to mark the cumulative passage of time.

The upper and lower globes of each glass were blown separately with open apertures or throats. To join them so that sand could flow from the upper globe to the lower, the two halves of the glass were bound together with cord that was then coated with wax. The two-coned glass phial could not be blown as one piece until about 1800.

In about 1500, the first clocks began to appear with the invention of the coiled spring or mainspring. Some weight-powered clocks had been made before 1500, but their size limited their practicality. As the mainspring was improved, smaller, tabletop clocks were manufactured and the first watches were made. Mainspring-driven clocks made curiosities out of clepsydras and sand glasses, but, interestingly, the most beautiful hourglasses were made after 1500 as decorative pieces. There are many types of hourglasses, such as metal hourglasswood hourglass and so on.

Like a foam roller, a massage ball can also be used to help release tension in our achy muscles after long hours spent in the office or after a workout. One of the differences being that it can get to those hard to reach areas such as the upper back, buttocks and feet. “Knots” or “trigger points” can be massive sources of pain in our bodies and using self-massage techniques can be very satisfying. Before diving in, there are a few important things to know which will help you achieve the best results.

The gear shift knob in a manual transmission equipped car or light truck is the large knob, usually made of plastic, that attaches to the top of the gear shift lever. Over time the surface of the knob can wear and you might wish to replace it to spruce up the interior of your vehicle. Many aftermarket manufactures offer specialty gear shift knobs. Some of these are made out of exotic materials such as leather or billet aluminum. Some companies offer novelty gear shift knobs for owners who want to personalize the interiors of their vehicles.

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