January 30, 2012
The Franklin Institute got some serious national air time on CBS Sunday Morning this weekend.
The subject of the segment was automatons, writing- and drawing-capable robots from the late 1700s or “mechanical marvels from a time gone by,” recently brought to the forefront of popular culture thanks to the bestselling children’s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret and the Oscar nominated film Hugo.
Derrick Pitts, Chief Astronomer and Planetarium Director for the Franklin Institute, is featured in the segment discussing the institute’s major role in exploring the science of automatons.
A machinist at the institute reassembled the ancient parts of an automaton in the museum’s collection to find an extraordinary artifact of science from the past. The remarkable “boy machine” uses levers to move its arms, so that it can write poems (in English and French) and draw four different pictures.
Visit the Franklin Institute’s historical automaton, or “Amazing Machine,” yourself!
Check out the clip above to learn more about the history of automatons.