Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Medieval Robots

Daniel Mitsui reports on a medieval oddity:

"References to automatons devised by western Europeans in the Middle Ages cite such distinguished names as Roger Bacon and Albertus Magnus, both of whom are credited with constructing androids - Bacon, a talking head, and Albertus, an iron man.
-Encyclopedia Britannica

Additional information on this iron man has proven elusive - most sources on the internet seem to repeat the same bit of information. Those that elaborate are occultist websites that claim St. Albert was using the Philosopher's Stone, or the invocation of demons, to animate the machine.

There is a general agreement that the word android is St. Albert's coinage. The invention itself was reportedly destroyed by St. Thomas Aquinas, either because he was defeated by it in argument; because he was annoyed by its incessant talking; or because he regarded it as a demonic abomination.

My vote is for "annoyed by incessant talking."

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