2008年09月10日

16世紀のスコットランド人錬金術師が初めて空を飛んだ人だったかも?

firstmantofly.jpg

Was 16th-century Scots alchemist the first man to fly?
【TIMESONLINEより、以下転載】
He was judged by history as a crank, but an alchemist who jumped off the ramparts of a Scottish castle 500 years ago wearing wings made of hen feathers may have been the first man to fly.

Not only was John Damian a success, experts now say, but he may also have invented the world's first hang glider.

Damian's leap of faith in 1507 is the earliest recorded flight experiment in Scotland. It is believed that the alchemist and inventor was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, who carried out his own experiments on the Continent a few years earlier.

Dressed in a winged contraption made of hen feathers Damian planned to soar through the skies from Stirling Castle to France. His mission, funded by King James IV, was intended to demonstrate the glory of Scotland's Renaissance, but it ended in ignominy when Damian landed in the nearby castle dungheap, breaking his leg.

The alchemist blamed the disaster on his wings. He said that the hen feathers from which they were made were attracted to sewage because hens were birds that “covet the middens and not the skies”. The story has been the source of much mirth over the centuries. Damian's most famous critic, the court poet William Dunbar, wrote a long satirical verse, claiming that every bird of the air had attacked him in protest. Yet the 16th-century Bird Man of Stirling Castle, as he has come to be known, could have the last laugh.

Charles McKean, professor of Scottish architectural history at the University of Dundee, has found evidence that, despite falling far short of its intended destination, the attempt was a success after all. Professor McKean has analysed contemporary maps and believes that Damian may have flown up to half a mile. “To obtain the best uplift for his long journey, Damian flew off the west side of the ramparts' highest point,” he said. “To the repeated scorn of the poet William Dunbar, he landed in a midden and broke his thigh bone. He was ridiculed and the attempt dismissed.

“Anyone looking over the west parapet of Stirling Castle would realise that someone tumbling down the rock at that point would end up very dead.

“Moreover, the royal gardens lay at its foot. Although the exact processional route between castle and gardens remains unclear, this was no place for a midden.

“A 1702 plan of the town, on the other hand, indicates the nearest midden half a mile away, beyond the current Smith Art Gallery. If that was the one in which Damian landed, there is but one conclusion - the wings worked.”

Professor McKean added: “He didn't reach France, of course, but I believe his flight should be regarded as an historic success. Either the wings worked as they were intended to or Damian invented the world's first glider. No one at that time, including da Vinci, had achieved better results.”

Professor McKean, who will give a public lecture on the historic experiment in Stirling next month, said that the achievement was ridiculed by Dunbar because he was jealous of Damian's favoured position with the King and the massive funding that he received.

A negative version of events was later used by Protest historians to portray Scotland's Renaissance as inferior to the movement that took place in the rest of Europe, he said.

The revised version of events has now been included in guided tours of the Stirling Smith Gallery in Stirling, which is currently hosting an exhibition of drawings by da Vinci.

Craig Mair, a local historian, said: “John Damian has been branded a failure for 500 years but it always seemed incredible, if the wings did not work, that he survived a drop of more than 75 metres with only a broken thigh bone.

“This new explanation seems entirely plausible. He may, in fact, have been the first man to fly.”

Damian won the support of King James IV after he claimed to be able to create gold from base metals. The King granted him the post of Abbot of Tongland, in Galloway.

Even though his schemes failed, the King was clearly still impressed by Damian and gave him a pension of 200 ducats when he retired in 1509. Damian continued to work at the royal court until 1513.
どうやら500年以上も前に城の城壁から、鳥の羽を集めて作った翼で飛び降りて、足を折っただけで済んだ錬金術師がいたそうですよ~。

グライダーのように滑空したので75m以上も落ちたのに、足を折っただけで済み、死ななかったそうです。レオナルド・ダ・ヴィンチを含めてもそこまでの成功には達していなかったとか。

もっとも周囲の扱いはひどいものだったらしいですけどね。

世界初の飛行機開発は、ライト兄弟じゃなくなるのでしょうか? イカロスの翼じゃありませんが、今後も気になるちょっと楽しいお話でした(笑顔)。
ラベル:歴史 ニュース
posted by alice-room at 14:02| Comment(2) | TrackBack(0) | 【ニュース記事B】 | 更新情報をチェックする
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いつも絶対しないのに本文まで読んでしまいました。
でもって、さすがDamianって名前のことだけあるなあ、とニヤニヤです。
Posted by OZ at 2008年09月10日 21:07
おおっと! 楽しんで頂けたようで何よりです。
なんかワクワクしますね。でも、名前の方にはOZさんに言われるまで気付きませんでした。
まさに『悪魔』っぽい所業かもしれませんね、人が空を飛ぼうなんて!(笑)
Posted by alice-room at 2008年09月10日 23:12
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