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An Ancient Computer Surprises Scientists (2200yo Roman computer!)
New York Times ^ | November 29, 2006 | JOHN NOBLE WILFORD

Posted on 11/29/2006 11:41:47 AM PST by Alter Kaker

A computer in antiquity would seem to be an anachronism, like Athena ordering takeout on her cellphone.

But a century ago, pieces of a strange mechanism with bronze gears and dials were recovered from an ancient shipwreck off the coast of Greece. Historians of science concluded that this was an instrument that calculated and illustrated astronomical information, particularly phases of the Moon and planetary motions, in the second century B.C.

The Antikythera Mechanism, sometimes called the world’s first computer, has now been examined with the latest in high-resolution imaging systems and three-dimensional X-ray tomography. A team of British, Greek and American researchers was able to decipher many inscriptions and reconstruct the gear functions, revealing, they said, “an unexpected degree of technical sophistication for the period.”

The researchers, led by Tony Freeth and Mike G. Edmunds, both of the University of Cardiff, Wales, are reporting the results of their study in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.

They said their findings showed that the inscriptions related to lunar-solar motions and the gears were a mechanical representation of the irregularities of the Moon’s orbital course across the sky, as theorized by the astronomer Hipparchos. They established the date of the mechanism at 150-100 B.C.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: antikythera; antikytheramechanism; godsgravesglyphs
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1 posted on 11/29/2006 11:41:48 AM PST by Alter Kaker
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To: Alter Kaker

The best thing about that computer...didn't require re-booting once a day... aka; no MS Windows.


2 posted on 11/29/2006 11:43:11 AM PST by Paloma_55 (I may be a hateful bigot, but I still love you)
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To: Alter Kaker

Rambaldi? Anybody here watch Alias? (Or watched)


3 posted on 11/29/2006 11:43:16 AM PST by The Blitherer (Fight On!)
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To: Alter Kaker

Rome was okay, until they became dependent on Chinese parts.


4 posted on 11/29/2006 11:43:57 AM PST by Toddsterpatriot (If you agree with EPI, you're not a conservative!)
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To: Paloma_55
The best thing about that computer...didn't require re-booting once a day... aka; no MS Windows.

MS DOS was already obsolescent during the Punic Wars?

5 posted on 11/29/2006 11:44:14 AM PST by Alter Kaker ("Whatever tears one sheds, in the end one always blows one's nose." - Heine)
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To: Alter Kaker

Roman? It's Greek to me...........


6 posted on 11/29/2006 11:44:35 AM PST by Red Badger (New! HeadOn Hemorrhoid Medication for Liberals!.........Apply directly to forehead.........)
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To: rdb3; chance33_98; Calvinist_Dark_Lord; Bush2000; PenguinWry; GodGunsandGuts; CyberCowboy777; ...

7 posted on 11/29/2006 11:45:13 AM PST by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: Paloma_55

No 'blue screen of death", eh?


8 posted on 11/29/2006 11:45:18 AM PST by CaptRon (Pedecaris alive or Raisuli dead)
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To: Alter Kaker

The NYT is truly incompetent.

The Antikythera Mechanism is being reported as Greek by Reuters today, the History Channel identifies it as Greek.

Perhaps the NYT likes extinct empires.


9 posted on 11/29/2006 11:45:25 AM PST by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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To: Victoria Delsoul

Ancient times PING!


10 posted on 11/29/2006 11:45:39 AM PST by HitmanLV (Rock, Rock, Rock and Rollergames! Rockin' & Rolling, Rockin' with Rollergames!)
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To: Red Badger
Roman? It's Greek to me...........

Per the article, it was on a Roman ship, but reading it again the computer was probably Greek.

11 posted on 11/29/2006 11:45:42 AM PST by Alter Kaker ("Whatever tears one sheds, in the end one always blows one's nose." - Heine)
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To: Alter Kaker

please! it was greek!


12 posted on 11/29/2006 11:45:45 AM PST by camle (keep your mind open and somebody will fill it full of something for you)
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To: Paloma_55

Maybe It was invented by Steveus Jobbus.........


13 posted on 11/29/2006 11:46:04 AM PST by Red Badger (New! HeadOn Hemorrhoid Medication for Liberals!.........Apply directly to forehead.........)
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To: longtermmemmory

See #11. I labeled it as Roman, probably misreading the article (it was on a Roman ship).


14 posted on 11/29/2006 11:46:26 AM PST by Alter Kaker ("Whatever tears one sheds, in the end one always blows one's nose." - Heine)
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To: Alter Kaker

Dang! Windows BC


15 posted on 11/29/2006 11:46:43 AM PST by Ol' Sox
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To: Alter Kaker

The device markings were in Greek, but the ship was probably Roman. They don't know if it was a part of the ship's navigation or was a piece of cargo? Whatever it was, only a rich merchant or traveler could have owned it.......


16 posted on 11/29/2006 11:48:01 AM PST by Red Badger (New! HeadOn Hemorrhoid Medication for Liberals!.........Apply directly to forehead.........)
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To: Ol' Sox
Dang! Windows BC

LOL!!!!

17 posted on 11/29/2006 11:48:10 AM PST by jdm
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To: Red Badger

NYT incomptence at work.

They can't event get an ANCIENT story correct.


18 posted on 11/29/2006 11:48:23 AM PST by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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To: Red Badger

Good. Really Good. LOL


19 posted on 11/29/2006 11:48:34 AM PST by Paloma_55 (I may be a hateful bigot, but I still love you)
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To: Alter Kaker

"unexpected degree of technical sophistication for the period.”

They seem surprised. They shouldn't be surprised. It's a fact. Their theories never did explain the facts.

Once again, scientists have to revise their ideas on something.


20 posted on 11/29/2006 11:49:28 AM PST by Leftism is Mentally Deranged
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To: Alter Kaker

It's Greek, not Roman! Sheesh.


21 posted on 11/29/2006 11:49:42 AM PST by visualops (artlife.us)
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To: Red Badger
Maybe It was invented by Steveus Jobbus.........

And these computers would have been all over the ancient world if he hadn't insisted on a proprietary system.

22 posted on 11/29/2006 11:50:29 AM PST by Alter Kaker ("Whatever tears one sheds, in the end one always blows one's nose." - Heine)
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To: Alter Kaker

Would this ancient computer be subject to Trojan infection?


23 posted on 11/29/2006 11:51:22 AM PST by Charles Henrickson (Horsing around.)
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To: Alter Kaker

...and only his slaves could make one.............


24 posted on 11/29/2006 11:51:23 AM PST by Red Badger (New! HeadOn Hemorrhoid Medication for Liberals!.........Apply directly to forehead.........)
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To: longtermmemmory

It is Greek. NY Times are stupid.


25 posted on 11/29/2006 11:51:35 AM PST by visualops (artlife.us)
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To: Charles Henrickson

Not if you used a Trojan condom........


26 posted on 11/29/2006 11:51:52 AM PST by Red Badger (New! HeadOn Hemorrhoid Medication for Liberals!.........Apply directly to forehead.........)
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To: Alter Kaker

got it. My bad, I saw the error and anticipated it was yet another NYT mistake.

I never thought it was you!


27 posted on 11/29/2006 11:52:19 AM PST by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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To: SunkenCiv

Ping!


28 posted on 11/29/2006 11:54:27 AM PST by Alter Kaker ("Whatever tears one sheds, in the end one always blows one's nose." - Heine)
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To: Leftism is Mentally Deranged
an unexpected degree of technical sophistication for the period

It even had a "Delenda" key.

29 posted on 11/29/2006 11:54:47 AM PST by Charles Henrickson (Cathago delenda est!)
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To: Charles Henrickson

Instead of a QWERTY layout, it used the similar but now extinct SPQR keyboard.


30 posted on 11/29/2006 11:57:40 AM PST by Alter Kaker ("Whatever tears one sheds, in the end one always blows one's nose." - Heine)
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To: Alter Kaker
This thing has been known about for the past 100 years, and was X-Rayed more than 50 years ago. Several working prototypes have been built in the past decade.

Why now do we have two articles on this thing posted today? What's so special about this that suddenly it's back in the news?

31 posted on 11/29/2006 11:58:02 AM PST by Junior (Losing faith in humanity one person at a time.)
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To: Alter Kaker

Apparently it ran a precursor to CP/M.


32 posted on 11/29/2006 11:58:05 AM PST by Comstock1 (If it's a miracle, Colour Sergeant, it's a short chamber Boxer Henry point 45 caliber miracle.)
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To: longtermmemmory

Technically speaking, the device was built at the height of the Roman empire (~2nd century CE), and Greece was part of that empire.


33 posted on 11/29/2006 11:59:22 AM PST by Junior (Losing faith in humanity one person at a time.)
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To: Junior

A new article was just published in Nature, revealing it to be more complex than previously believed. Regarding the date, according to the NY Times, it's 2nd century BC, not CE.


34 posted on 11/29/2006 12:01:24 PM PST by Alter Kaker ("Whatever tears one sheds, in the end one always blows one's nose." - Heine)
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To: Alter Kaker

FR does not allow Greek character or we would be able to post some real funny keyboard jokes.

Of course SOME ivory tower lunatic will condemn this because it comes from dead europeans.


35 posted on 11/29/2006 12:01:50 PM PST by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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To: Alter Kaker

It may be 2200 years old but the hard drive crashed 2198 years ago.


36 posted on 11/29/2006 12:03:07 PM PST by CholeraJoe (Spork weasels ain't afraid of nuthin' but running out of sardines.)
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To: Junior
Why now do we have two articles on this thing posted today? What's so special about this that suddenly it's back in the news?

A new high resolution X-ray scan was just done on it. Official results are supposed to be released in the next couple of days.

I wonder how long it will be before the geeks at slashdot have Linux running on a copy of it?

37 posted on 11/29/2006 12:03:07 PM PST by KarlInOhio (Hey Kerry, What part of showing heels and ass is a winning strategy in Iraq?)
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To: Alter Kaker

agrivate a professor remind them that "CE" stand for "Christian Era."


38 posted on 11/29/2006 12:03:48 PM PST by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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To: Alter Kaker

Yeah, I noticed the dating there. Up until today all the references I found placed it in the 1st or 2nd century CE. Now, a lot of them are changing their dates: Wikipedia now puts it at 80 BCE. That indeed may be the reason for the article. Researchers may have just redated it.


39 posted on 11/29/2006 12:04:24 PM PST by Junior (Losing faith in humanity one person at a time.)
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To: Alter Kaker
Thanks Alter Kaker.

Just adding this to the GGG catalog, not sending a general distribution. Just pinged a slightly older topic about this.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
"Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

40 posted on 11/29/2006 12:05:12 PM PST by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Thursday, November 16, 2006 https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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Did The Ancient Greeks Make A Computer?
An Article | 1977 | Lionel Casson
Posted on 11/01/2003 12:21:03 PM EST by Holly_P
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1012790/posts


41 posted on 11/29/2006 12:06:30 PM PST by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Thursday, November 16, 2006 https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: Alter Kaker

Was it invented by Greeks or Geeks?


42 posted on 11/29/2006 12:07:17 PM PST by seawolf101
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To: Red Badger; Alter Kaker
Maybe It was invented by Steveus Jobbus

Or Billius Portae.

43 posted on 11/29/2006 12:08:32 PM PST by Charles Henrickson (The Gates of Hell.)
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To: Leftism is Mentally Deranged

"Once again, scientists have to revise their ideas on something."

And you would prefer what, that they stick with ideas in the face of contradictory evidence? That they never come up with any ideas they can't be 100% sure are completely correct?


44 posted on 11/29/2006 12:11:22 PM PST by -YYZ-
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To: Red Badger
"Maybe It was invented by Steveus Jobbus........."

Actually, all the inventing was done by Steveus Wozniakus----Jobbus just put it in a pretty box and handled the marketing.

45 posted on 11/29/2006 12:11:50 PM PST by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel-NRA)
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To: Leftism is Mentally Deranged
"Once again, scientists have to revise their ideas on something."

Yup--that's how the "scientific method" works. Stupidity is being confronted with evidence and NOT changing your ideas on something.

46 posted on 11/29/2006 12:13:37 PM PST by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel-NRA)
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To: Charles Henrickson

Billius Portae never invented anything. He just bought old stuff, repackaged it and sold it to I.B. Emmus.........


47 posted on 11/29/2006 12:14:03 PM PST by Red Badger (New! HeadOn Hemorrhoid Medication for Liberals!.........Apply directly to forehead.........)
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To: Alter Kaker

Oooh... the Commodoreus LXIV :-)


48 posted on 11/29/2006 12:15:00 PM PST by Charles Martel (Liberals are the crab grass in the lawn of life.)
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To: Wonder Warthog

But nobody remembers poor old Steveus Wozniakus..........


49 posted on 11/29/2006 12:15:22 PM PST by Red Badger (New! HeadOn Hemorrhoid Medication for Liberals!.........Apply directly to forehead.........)
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To: Paloma_55
One of the engraved inscriptions reads "Terminal Application Error, OK?"
50 posted on 11/29/2006 12:15:37 PM PST by The_Victor (If all I want is a warm feeling, I should just wet my pants.)
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