Skip to comments.Discovering How Greeks Computed in 100 B.C.
Posted on 07/31/2008 8:35:20 AM PDT by SunkenCiv
The Antikythera Mechanism, sometimes called the first analog computer, was recovered more than a century ago in the wreckage of a ship that sank off the tiny island of Antikythera, north of Crete. Earlier research showed that the device was probably built between 140 and 100 B.C.
Only now, applying high-resolution imaging systems and three-dimensional X-ray tomography, have experts been able to decipher inscriptions and reconstruct functions of the bronze gears on the mechanism. The latest research has revealed details of dials on the instrument's back side, including the names of all 12 months of an ancient calendar.
In the journal report, the team led by the mathematician and filmmaker Tony Freeth of the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, in Cardiff, Wales, said the month names "are unexpectedly of Corinthian origin," which suggested "a heritage going back to Archimedes."
No month names on what is called the Metonic calendar were previously known, the researchers noted. Such a calendar, as well as other knowledge displayed on the mechanism, illustrated the influence of Babylonian astronomy on the Greeks. The calendar was used by Babylonians from at least the early fifth century B.C.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
I know there have been lots of FR topics about this item, but my Auntie Kythera told me it would be nice to post this update.
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Did it record time in milliseconds until Jan 1st, 1970 or did it have a Y0K problem?
Reminds me of an old Flash Gordon movie I saw on an American Airlines flight many years ago. He’d been captured by Ming the Merciless and put to work stoking radium furnaces on a planet that required the furnaces to stay in orbit. He and the other slaves stoked the furnaces by scooping the radium up in coal shovels and shoving it into the fireboxes, just like coal. The movie was made well before most people knew anything about nuclear reactors.
Computare necesse est, but in Greek(?)
Steer that JMP instruction a little to the left, whydoncha?
Interesting read - thanks.
I read that when the device was first discovered, scientists refused to believe it was ca. first century. They posited that some Medieval ship either sank on top of the old wreck or that it was lost overboard in the Middle Ages. Somewhat like some of their explain-aways on UFOs or pre-Indians in the Americas.
What always blew my mind was the intricacy of the meshing gears. Remember that the teeth were all cut buy hand and resembled shark’s teeth. As with any gear teeth, precision is critical, and to think that some artisans of that early date were able to create something of this complexity (over 30 gears) without the machine jamming borders on sorcery.
The good news- the ancients were mathematical and mechanical geniuses.
The bad news - they used this genius to cast astrology charts.
I see this image and caption several times each year and am frustrated every time, because the remainder of the article must be fascinating, but always missing.
Does the RAND Corporation still exist?
Does anyone have access to the complete article?
There is a wealth of information there, as illustrated by the bold letters I have highlighted to illustrate the traps inherent in discussing the future.
The hard sciences can be exact. Some predictions are assumed from experience to be invariant (Tides, sunrise and sunset, eclipses, weather, etc.), some cannot be (Meteor strikes, volcanic eruptions, climate change).
When discusions ensue, a somewhat firm grasp of both science and the language must participate to make rational conclusions of the practical application of information that is available. Unfortunately, scientists themselves often fail this test, as illustrated by the caption of this famous photograph. The obvious lapse is the indiscriminate mixing of the affirmative and the speculative.
The main point being that conditional language is always "... used principally in a main clause accompanied by an implicit or explicit doubt or "if-clause"; may refer to conditional statements in present or future time."
This is either omitted from Climate change discussions, or overlooked by the readers, particularly national leaders and policy-makers. It is certainly exploited by the doomsayers, the Gores and Hansens of our society.
And it has huge, long-lasting, unexpected and profound consequences.
Science, just isn't what it used to be. The line between science and politics has been temporarily erased, to our unfortunate detriment.
The image is fake. The caption is meant as a joke. As an example, the lineprinter console and the TV are pasted in, as is the person.
We don't know that. We can only speculate.
Consider that ordinary events (as opposed to "historical" ones) are lost quite quickly in all societies. The written word is the most valuable and missing ingredient of human history. About ordinary events.
This has been referred to as "silent evidence" or "silent witnesses." Consider that thousands of man-hours are commonly spent going through garbage piles barely 100 years old to try to reconstruct the ordinary lives of ordinary people. If permanent written records were available all this wasted time would be unnecessary. That underscores the simple but crucial value of things like literacy rates and permanent recording media.
Sure, the mechanism might have been used merely to cast horoscopes --- or not.
The reality is that we can only speculate; we don't know, and might never know.
I believe that’s actually an old submarine simulator. The caption is a hoax.
Rand merged and became Sperry Rand which then became just Sperry which is now part of Unisys.
For what that’s worth.
Even if it is fake, when was it created?
Having been alive in 1954, I am aware of the state of technology of the time, and much more familiar with the early history of what followed, from 1960 through 1980. If the caption is fake, of necessity it must mimic the state of technology when the fake image was made, must reflect the assessment of technology that was current. It does not seem to be MAD Magazine material.
I recall literally dozens of such predictions in poplular magazines of the late 40s, 50s and 60s. Unfortunately, I did not have access to the highly technical journals where such predictions might have been made.
Freepers are great.
Thanks for that information.
A mechanism that computes the positions of the planets can be used for what other purpose?
Are you sure of that?
The way I read history, there has never been much distance between the two...hemlock and excommunication come to mind.
More recently, eugenics and the master race, A-bombs and a Nuclear Iran, come to mind.
A lot of what we call science today grew out of individual efforts that went entirely against the political, and accepted 'scientific', grain of their day.
But, most 'science' in history was sponsored by either state or church and was directed closely, ultimately determined, by either or both.
(Conveniently described by "follow the money".)
Take a look at the Rand (US Government) version of 21st century computing at post #3.
(And remember that the first modern computer came into being before 1860 and took a century to reach that level of conjecture.)
It would have kept computing safely in the hands of only the largest institutions and supported status quo.
It was blown out of the water by a couple of outsiders with entrepreneurial goals.
Actually, the RAND corporation has never been a part of Sperry or its descendants.
The RAND corporation (RAND stands for “R and D”) was one of the original, if not THE original, think tanks set up right after WW II, and continues as such today.
The “Rand” of Sperry-Rand was named after the founder of a technical instrument company, and was merged into the Sperry corporate structure after WW I.
Glad you posted this - I saw it in USA today and we can only post the links to their stuff.
Cool pics at link
Ping for later read....
That instrument panel in the bckground is a reactor control station for a nuclear submarine. The left panel is the steam-plant with the large forward throttle wheel and smaller reverse throttle wheel. The central panel is the ractor control panel and the right hand panel is the electric plant control panel.
Maybe the second link has something different.
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