from the nobody-expects-the-spanish-armada dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "With the discovery last year of the first wreck of an Elizabethan fighting ship off Alderney in the Channel Islands, thought to date from around 1592, marine archaeologists are revising their ideas on how the English defeated the Spanish Armada. Replicas of two cannon recovered from the Alderney wreck were recreated in a modern foundry, and tests carried out showed that the Elizabethans were throwing shot at almost the speed of sound. Elizabeth's 'supergun,' although relatively small, could hit a target a mile away. At a ship-to-ship fighting distance of about 100 yards, the ball would have sufficient punch to penetrate the oak planks of a galleon, travel across the deck, and emerge out the other side. Tests on cannon recovered from the Alderney wreck also suggest that the ship carried guns of uniform size, firing standard ammunition. 'Elizabeth's navy created the first ever set of uniform cannon, capable of firing the same size shot in a deadly barrage,' says marine archaeologist Mensun Bound from Oxford University, adding that that navy had worked out that a lot of small guns, all the same, all firing at once, were more effective than a few big guns. '[Elizabeth's] navy made a giant leap forward in the way men fought at sea, years ahead of England's enemies, and which was still being used to devastating effect by Nelson 200 years later.'"
One of the chief duties of the mathematician in acting as an advisor...
is to discourage... from expecting too much from mathematics.
-- N. Wiener