Download A Portable Cosmos: Revealing the Antikythera Mechanism, by Alexander Jones PDF

By Alexander Jones

From the lifeless Sea Scrolls to the Terracotta military, historic artifacts have lengthy interested the fashionable international. in spite of the fact that, the significance of a few discoveries isn't really consistently 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 understand that they had chanced on the oldest identified analog computing device on this planet, an remarkable gadget that when simulated the motions of the celebs and planets as they have been understood by means of old Greek astronomers. Its continues to be 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 via radiographic instruments and floor imaging. greater than a century after its discovery, a few of the secrets and techniques locked during this mysterious equipment can now be published.

In addition to chronicling the not going discovery of the Antikythera Mechanism, writer Alexander Jones takes readers via a dialogue of the way the equipment labored, how and for what goal it was once 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 medical know-how, and their position in Greek society, is really impressive. The mechanical information that it embodied used to be extra complex than something the Greeks have been formerly suggestion in a position to, however the most modern study has printed that its screens have been designed in order that an informed layman may well comprehend the habit of astronomical phenomena, and the way intertwined they have been with one's ordinary and social atmosphere. It used to be right away a masterpiece of equipment in addition to one of many first transportable instructing units. Written by means of a world-renowned specialist at the Mechanism, A moveable Cosmos will fascinate all readers drawn to historical background, archaeology, and the historical past of science.

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

Sample text

The chapter on the Mechanism—​the first significant account of it published in a language other than Greek—​is by Rediadis (fig. 12 Since those first heady days following the discovery of the fragments in the museum, Svoronos had established an informal alliance with Rediadis: Svoronos assumed the responsibility for reading and dating the inscriptions, while Rediadis took on the technical description and interpretation of the fragments. This explains why we hear no more of Svoronos’s idea that the gearwork drove a planetarium.

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.

This sounds as if he was thinking of an observational instrument, an ancient counterpart of a Jacob’s staff, mariner’s astrolabe, or sextant, but what follows does not pursue this idea. Instead, he draws attention to the remains of a system of concentric metal rings on Fragment B and suggests that they could revolve and that the purpose of the gearwork was to drive the rings to represent the motions of the heavenly bodies—​in a word, it was a planetarium, though Svoronos does not use that term.

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