What is the World’s Oldest LaboratoryMarcusCannon
Some of you reading this will probably think that some of the laboratories you’ve conducted research within could compete for the title of ‘World’s Oldest Laboratory’. But tired looking work surfaces, tattered benches and peeling paint can barely compare to the research site which is widely believed to be the oldest recorded science laboratory in the world.
Ancient writings and woodcut drawings depict a home laboratory of the well-known, hugely influential Greek scientist and philosopher, Pythagoras of Samos. This would make it the world’s oldest laboratory, at more than 2,500 years old.
The scourge of secondary school students all around the world with his eponymous equation, Pythagoras’ home laboratory is depicted in a 5th century book by the Roman author Boethius. The depiction shows the influential scientist experimenting with bells – alongside an anecdote of Pythagoras exploring the sounds made by metals of different masses.
According to Andrew Dimarogonas, professor of mechanical design at Washington University, Pythagoras’ curiosity was piqued when he passed a shop and a team of workmen were hammering metal, and all their hammers created distinct sounds. Pythagoras then returned to the world’s oldest laboratory where he conducted experiments to prove that natural frequency of a system is a direct property of that system – and not affected by external excitation.
Pythagoras set to proving this fact by vibrating a range of different strings, pipes, vessels, plates and, as depicted in the woodcut drawing, bells. This could make the experiment one of the very first to have been conducted in a science laboratory.
However, it is highly unlikely that his most famous feat, the Pythagorean Theorem, was discovered in his home laboratory. It is claimed that this theory pre-dates the Greek scientist, with evidence suggesting that the principle dates back to the Babylonians – if not even earlier. Like many scientific principles named after the origin scientist, it was only perfected and popularised by Pythagoras – even if it was the composite work of a number of different parties.
Although his laboratory would have undoubtedly have been crude by modern standards, Pythagoras has had a lasting influence on generations of scientists and mathematicians with his discoveries, theories and scientific endeavours. He might not have had the same access to technology and resources that we take for granted today, but his breakthroughs have ensured his lab remains one of history’s most important sites of scientific exploration.
If you are looking to implement a new laboratory or suite of research spaces, the InterFocus team can help you design and develop a site which supports all your research needs and requirements. For more information about how InterFocus can help you, visit the website, here, or call the dedicated team on 01223 894833.