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Decoding the Heavens by the Antikythera mechanism

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    antikythera-mechanismJo Marchant, Decoding The Heavens, William Heinemann 2008. Humanity’s need for purpose seems universal.  Regardless of our belief system, perhaps the beginning of winter is the best time to contemplate meaning and purpose.  How affirming and humbling to realize we are still so similar to others from the past.  The Antikythera mechanism (www.antikythera-mechanism.gr), calculated the motions of the sun, moon and planets and predicted eclipses using intricate gear mechanisms created over 2000 years ago.  Now scientists are reconstructing the device and finding that ancient Greek technology was far more advanced than previously thought.  “Historians have often scoffed at the Greeks for wasting their technology on toys rather than doing anything useful with it. If they had the steam engine, why not use it to do work?” But these devices may have been “a way to get closer to the true meaning of things. To what better use could technology be put?” The size of a shoebox, the Antikythera mechanism – a mysterious bronze device scooped out of a Roman-era shipwreck at the dawn of the 20th century, off the island of Antikythera (www.antikythira.gr), has baffled scientists for years and proved to be a  calculator used by the Ancient Greeks more than 2,000 years ago. New Scientist (12.12.2008): Archimedes and the 2000-year-old computer; Ancient computer recreated; Nature science journal (31.7.2008): Streaming video: Antikythera