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Read e-book online A Portable Cosmos: Revealing the Antikythera Mechanism, PDF

By Alexander Jones

From the useless Sea Scrolls to the Terracotta military, historical artifacts have lengthy interested the fashionable international. although, the significance of a few discoveries isn't really continuously instantly understood. This used to be the case in 1901 while sponge divers retrieved a lump of corroded bronze from a shipwreck on the backside of the Mediterranean Sea close to the Greek island of Antikythera. Little did the divers recognize that they had chanced on the oldest recognized analog computing device on this planet, an fantastic machine that after simulated the motions of the celebs and planets as they have been understood via historic Greek astronomers. Its is still now encompass eighty two fragments, a lot of them containing gears and plates engraved with Greek phrases, that scientists and students have pieced again jointly via painstaking inspection and deduction, aided through radiographic instruments and floor imaging. greater than a century after its discovery, some of the secrets and techniques locked during this mysterious machine can now be printed.

In addition to chronicling the not likely discovery of the Antikythera Mechanism, writer Alexander Jones takes readers via a dialogue of the way the machine labored, how and for what objective it used to be created, and why it was once on a boat that wrecked off the Greek coast round 60 BC. What the Mechanism has exposed approximately Greco-Roman astronomy and clinical expertise, and their position in Greek society, is actually outstanding. The mechanical knowledge that it embodied used to be extra complicated than something the Greeks have been formerly inspiration in a position to, however the newest learn has printed that its monitors have been designed in order that an informed layman might comprehend the habit of astronomical phenomena, and the way intertwined they have been with one's typical and social atmosphere. It was once right now a masterpiece of equipment in addition to one of many first transportable instructing units. Written via a world-renowned professional at the Mechanism, A transportable Cosmos will fascinate all readers attracted to old historical past, archaeology, and the background of science.

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Additional info for A Portable Cosmos: Revealing the Antikythera Mechanism, Scientific Wonder of the Ancient World

Example text

The second-​century AD author Lucian of Samosata offered a suitable candidate for the voyage by referring to a shipload of Greek artistic treasures looted by the Roman general Sulla but lost in a shipwreck somewhere near Cape Malea in the mid-​80s BC, though Vyzantinos admitted that it would be mere speculation to link the Antikythera wreck to this particular event. As evidence built up, in particular through the recovery of ceramics, a dating in or around the first century BC, the period of the late Roman Republic or the early Roman Empire, came to be more or less the consensus among his archeologist colleagues in the ministerial service.

Rediadis did not try to show how a system of gears could convert an altitude angle into, say, the time of day. Generally speaking, one is struck by how little his interpretation of the Mechanism’s purpose depended on his detailed observations of the fragments and his erroneous attempt to fit the fragments together. His lasting contribution was not to be the identification of the Mechanism as a mechanical counterpart of the astrolabe, which has turned out to be wrong, but the more general idea that the gears functioned as a device for calculating quantitative data by means of moving parts—​that is, an analog computer.

The Mykali turned out to be too large to get close to the site, limiting its ability to help with raising objects—​in the future, smaller navy vessels, the steamship 8 8 A Portable Cosmos (a) (b) FIG. 3. The late-​third-​century BC bronze head of the “philosopher” (National Archaeological Museum X 13400), before and after cleaning. (Svoronos 1903a, 29 and plate III) Syros (joined by a freighter with a crane) and the torpedo boat Aigialeia, would do this work, while the Mykali returned from time to time to bring artifacts to Athens and carry archeologists and other officials back and forth.

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