Soaring Stones: A Kite-Powered Approach to Building Egypt’s Pyramids

| September 20, 2013

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Soaring Stones: A Kite-Powered Approach to Building Egypt's Pyramids

It’s an unforgettable sight: innovation expert Maureen Clemmons can lift and “fly” massive stones, some of them weighing sixteen tons, with little more than a steady wind and a good kite. But did the ancient Egyptians do the same thing when hoisting immense pyramid stones? Egyptologists say no. Clemmons, backed by a decade of field tests and a Caltech aeronautics team, isn’t so certain– especially when the Egyptologists make it clear they are unwilling to consider evidence from anyone outside their insular field. Buoyed by a tremendous groundswell of grassroots support, Clemmons’ stunning, block-heaving experiments generate national news coverage, a History Channel documentary, and a mention in engineering textbooks. Audiences from NASA, the American Institute of Architects, and a multitude of universities gather to hear her compelling presentations. In the span of just a few short years, she successfully advances a simple “Eureka!” moment in her California backyard to the halls of academia, and eventually to Egypt’s Giza Plateau, site of the actual pyramids. She also proves an important point: that you don’t need a degree, just an inspired idea and some passion, to be a good scientist. Written by Time science contributor Daniel Cray.It’s an unforgettable sight: innovation expert Maureen Clemmons can lift and “fly” massive stones, some of them weighing sixteen tons, with little more than a steady wind and a good kite. But did the ancient Egyptians do the same thing when hoisting immense pyramid stones? Egyptologists say no. Clemmons, backed by a decade of field tests and a Caltech aeronautics team, isn’t so certain– especially when the Egyptologists make it clear they are unwilling to consider evidence from anyone outside their insular field. Buoyed by a tremendous groundswell of grassroots support, Clemmons’ stunning, block-heaving experiments generate national news coverage, a History Channel documentary, and a mention in engineering textbooks. Audiences from NASA, the American Institute of Architects, and a multitude of universities gather to hear her compelling presentations. In the span of just a few short years, she successfully advances a simple “Eureka!” moment in her California backyard to the halls of academia, and eventually to Egypt’s Giza Plateau, site of the actual pyramids. She also proves an important point: that you don’t need a degree, just an inspired idea and some passion, to be a good scientist. Written by Time science contributor Daniel Cray.

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