The Antikythera Mechanism

The Guardian’s James Randerson has a satisfyingly link-full update on the research into the Antikythera Mechanism – as previously noted here and also here. Apparently it’s older than previously thought. Possibly from around the time of Archimedes.. And here’s part 1 of a fascinating Nature video on the 2000-year-old “box of intricate gearwork”. Part 2 below the fold along with a stunning animation of the mechanism by Massimo Mogi Vicentini of the Civico Planetario di Milano.

Part 2 of the Nature video.

From James Randerson

The new data concerns the four-year Olympiad dial, which has the names of significant Greek games etched into it – Isthmia, Olympia, Nemea, Pythia and Naa (plus one other that hasn’t been deciphered). The first four were major games known throughout the ancient world, but the Naa games, held near Dodona in northwest Greece, were a much more provincial affair that would only have been of local interest. “One possibility is that it was made by or for somebody in Naa,” said Marchant, who described the clockwork computer on the Guardian’s Science Weekly podcast last year.

This also helps to pin down the date because the Romans took over that region in the 2nd century BC. A Greek-inscribed gadget like this, reasons Jones, would not have been made after the Romans took charge.

Hmm.. possibly Archimedes after all, then?

And here’s a stunning animation of the mechanism by Massimo Mogi Vicentini of the Civico Planetario di Milano. More animations here.

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  • Oh my God!

    Fuck me, this is relevant. Right on top of a thread about Gerry Adams criticising the Orange Order. What a coincidence!!

    The alternative to laughing at Pete Baker is to cry.

  • Oh my God!

    P.S. – when can we expect Slugger’s next update on the latest goings on in the golf world?

  • The Raven

    (ignores above)

    I remember this from – of all things – Arthur C Clarke’s series in the 70’s. Its sophistication is extraordinary. I am equally amazed at the imaging techniques employed now – I remember the first pictures I ever saw of this. Nothing compared to what they are generating now.

  • Driftwood

    Shit, Raven that brought back memories of a really cack programme, almost as embarrasingly bad as Leonard Nimoy’s ‘In search of…’. It used to be a talking/laughing about thing in school next day
    anyway from the programmes wiki..

    Ancient Wisdom – September 16, 1980
    This show is concerned with technology from history that was either ahead of its time and subsequently forgotten, or artefacts which are mysteries in themselves. This includes the Baghdad battery, where German scientist Arne Eggebrecht is shown electroplating a small silver statue with a gold cyanide solution and a replica of the battery using grape juice. There are also segments on the Antikythera Mechanism (including an interview with Derek J. de Solla Price), the Stone Balls of Costa Rica and the so-called ‘Skull of Doom’ which famously dominates the opening credits of the series. Also included are the vitrified stone forts of Scotland including Tap o’ Noth near Aberdeen.

    Clarke opines at the end that had some of these forgotten technologies been developed and not lost that we would have ‘colonised the stars’ by now.

    Utter bollocks.

  • latcheeco

    Pete,
    Keep the space and science stuff going. Good stuff!

  • The Raven

    Yeah but Driftwood – the impact of yeti footage at the age of six was profound! 🙂

  • Driftwood

    Being a wee bit older, Raven, it became clear Arthur was just keeping up the payments on his Sri Lankan beach home while regurgitating guff, Bermuda Triangle etc.

    A pity you missed a really good series from the same era, Cosmos, by the late great Carl Sagan.

  • The Raven

    You’re speaking to someone who only knew The World at War from watching it in GCSE Modern History. 😉

    (testament to the quality of the series that they were still using it then, mind you…)

  • joeCanuck

    Go on, Pete. Make our day. Do a blog which combines Gerry Adams and space and make yer man above cry.

  • joeCanuck

    BTW, Omg, Tiger scored 9 under at the Buick today.

  • Driftwood

    The Raven
    A WW2 history programme unrivalled until Laurence Rees’ 2 seminal series, ‘The Nazis-A Warning from History’ and the later Auschwitz one.
    But Cosmos was quite daunting for its time.

    I always enjoy(ed)the BBC2 Royal Institution lectures at Christmas though, my favourite being in 1991..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Institution_Christmas_Lectures

    Along with ‘The Great Escape’ of course.

  • Driftwood

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Growing_Up_in_the_Universe

    pity I missed the Sagan one in 1977.