Life Learning, Science|March 25, 2009 10:22 am

Six Basic Machines of Classical Antiquity

By looking at the pictures, can you identify the basic machine principle at work? What is the missing sixth machine principle? (Hint: beer bottle opener) And finally, where do you see these principles at work all around you?


Basic Machine 1


Basic Machine 2


Basic Machine 3


Basic Machine 4


Basic Machine 5

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  • #1: A pail to fetch water from the well: Strength.
    #2: Metal press: Force/Energy.
    #3: A wheel: Momentum.
    #4: A scale: Balance.
    #5: Crushing/grinding stone from stone age: Ignorance (?)

  • Shiva, number 3 and 4 are right on. The principles of the wheel and a balance are classic mechanical principles that were very useful in moving things around and measuring things. Your other guesses are not quite it. :-)

  • 1. Pulley
    2. Inclined plane
    3. Wheel
    4. I’d go with lever, but I want to save that guess for #6 (bottle opener)…it’s tempting to consult Wikipedia but I’ll resist until after I post
    5. Wedge
    6. Lever

  • 1. Pulley
    2. screw
    6. lever

  • I think the stone wheel (machine 3) on it’s side over another wheel could have also used for grinding/milling grain into flour increasing the efficiency over hand grinding.

  • There apparently is some debate as to what the six classical machines of antiquity are. Greg and Judy together got all six which are:

    1. Pulley
    2. Screw – which does apply the principle of an inclined plane but in a rotating motion. It is unique in it’s ability to turn and drive inward.

    3. Wheel
    4. Scale or Balance
    5. Wedge – or can be a more direct application on an inclined plane.
    6. Lever

    A hammer is a good one too although I suspect that primates have take heavy things and hitting other things for quite some time. It apparently took a long time to go from even chipped stones to polished wedges.

    Anyway, found the application of basic principles interesting and you see it all around us today!

  • heres five:
    1 lever
    2 pulley
    3 wheel and axle
    4 wedge
    5 screw

    there you go 5 of the 6 simple machines

  • 1. Pulley/block and tackle

    2. Screw

    3. Wheel and Axle

    4 Gear

    5. Wedge/Inclined Plane

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