The Raven's Chamber: a mad scientist's apparatus


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I want one of those. Very badly.

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So the artist stuck a raven on a writing desk?


I think it looks like a steampunk interocitor though.

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Damn. Beat me to it…

Pretty, but…

Actual lab equipment can look more arcane, and is functional. Vacuum/plasma tech is a nice example, where glass is married with stainless steel and high voltage insulators.

A common example is a fusor, images here:
There are more kinds of such lab-as-art tech, e.g. electron microscopes or accelerators, but fusors are the perhaps best (and best known) example.

Edit: Picture:

I am in full agreement on the arcane potential of actual hardware (a nice mercury arc rectifier is functional and looks like something intended to be placed where the fabric of the world is weakest for some dark and terrible purpose).

That said, I suspect that the piece above is partly aimed at evoking the appearance of lab equipment that would have been deemed ‘functional’ under a substantially different set of presumed physical laws.

As it happens, Team Alchemy was sufficiently wrong about the world that they only got results when they stumbled into what is now chemistry; but they definitely weren’t proto-chemists. Vitalism, sympathetic magic, astrology, and assorted hermetic oddities were all definitely on the table. All dead ends; but all theories that would include some…very curious…objects within the bounds of ‘functional lab equipment’.

For pure functional retrotech, I’d favor the various beautifully fabricated brass mechanical devices (astrolabes, armillary spheres, ball and disk integrators, etc.); but had Athanasius Kircher been correct in his theories, I’d probably get to choose rather differently…

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Hello, Fuzzy Fungus, Thank you. I enjoyed your comment. Accurate and thoughtful points. Particularly your mention of Kircher, as you had noticed his astrological map that I painted on my piece.

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Don’t get my grumbling wrong, the thing is pretty. :smiley:
I just have a little different ideas about what counts as a “mad scientist’s apparatus” :stuck_out_tongue:
(Make it “mad alchemist’s” and we’re on the same wave.)

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“Mad Alchemist” is fine.

Given the (arguably understandable) fascination among alchemists with the fact that mercury, that crazy stuff that looks like liquid silver and weighs more than any decent substance should, can dissolve gold, that noble metal that resists most other forms of attack, and then turn back into gold when you boil the mercury off, I suspect that mad alchemists were not in terribly short supply.

(That said, this technique can be used for mercury gilding, which produces excellent results if you are risk-insensitive enough to try.)

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Thanks for dropping by; and I’m glad I guessed accurately, thought it was Kircher but wasn’t sure. Such a fascinating character, that one. On the wrong side of future developments in the field almost across the board, so he doesn’t come up much in the list of people mentioned as antecedents of today’s science; but a man of impressively broad and ambitious activity in his vast range of interests. Plus, I’m pretty sure that he is the source of our first and best surviving account of the ‘cat piano’ and its workings!

(Probably for the best that you didn’t include that feature, though.)

Mercury is COOL!

The galinstan replacement crap is by far not so good, though it has some fringe advantages (e.g. wetting glass, which can also be a disadvantage).

Or if you work in a hermetic apparatus, e.g. a glovebox.

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