1 Samuel 17:22
“And David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage, and ran into the army, and came and saluted his brethren.”

Numerous Chinese legends refer to a mysterious carriage on which a mechanical rider rode. Its arm was outstretched and continuously pointed south no matter which way the carriage turned. How did it accomplish such a feat? If you’re guessing that magnets had something to do with it, you’d be wrong. Actually, the south-pointing chariot was invented about 800 years before the first navigational use of a magnetic compass.

South-pointing chariot exhibit in the Science Museum, LondonIn the 1960s, Dr. Joseph Needham discovered that the carriage dated back to the third century AD. He also learned that the device did not use magnets. The carriage was actually a highly sophisticated automaton that has since been described as the world’s “first cybernetic machine.”

So how did the  figure know how to keep pointing south? It used a complex grouping of gears similar to the differential gears found in modern cars. This system of interconnected gears allows the wheels of a car turning a corner to move at different speeds, with the “outer” wheel traveling farther than the other. The arm of the figure on the carriage was aimed southward by hand at the start of a journey. After that, whenever the carriage turned, the mechanism automatically rotated the arm to keep it pointed to the south.

Over the years, we have told you about many such ancient devices, revealing that ancient man was much more intelligent than modern man gives them credit for. This should come as no surprise to those of us who believe the Bible.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, though evolutionists want us to believe that humans developed slowly over millions of years, the Bible tells us that mankind was intelligent and skilled right from the beginning. Amen.


Author: Steven J. Schwartz
Ref: P. James and N. Thorpe, Ancient Inventions, pp 140-142 (Ballantine Books, 1994). For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South-pointing_chariot. Photo: South-pointing chariot exhibit in the Science Museum, London. Courtesy of Andy Dingley. (CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

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