Mathematicall Magick proclaims itself the first text on mechanics written in English. Using ideas indebted to classical authorities like Archimedes, Wilkins defends the intellectual importance of tools usually associated with workmen. Wilkins describes ingenious, labour-saving applications of simple devices like screws and pulleys.
The first part explains the workings of gears and catapults, while the second section demystifies automatic inventions perceived as ‘magick’, such as clocks and windmills. Wilkins also offers support for the feasibility of flying machines and even space travel. The mechanical principles are illustrated throughout, which contributes to the practical, accessible nature of the work. The College’s copy even shows how a reader understood a concept by making his own faint sketch in the margins.
Wilkins was a scientist of some renown…
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