The Antikythera Device amazing ancient device

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The Antikythera Device amazing ancient device

This is facinating, here was an clock like mechanism created around 1BC at leat 1500 years before the West made the first clocks. It was made to measure the motions of the planets. Much more on the site.

In 1900, a Greek sponge diver called Elias Stadiatos, working off the small Greek island of Antikythera, found the remains of a Greek ship at the bottom of the sea that sank about 1BC.

In that wreck were the remains of a bunch of bronze wheels and cogs.

In 1958, Yale science historian Derek J. de Solla Price stumbled upon the object and decided to make it the subject of a scientific study, which was published the following year in Scientific American. Part of the problem, he felt, was its uniqueness.

De Solla stated:
... Quote:
Nothing like this instrument is preserved elsewhere. Nothing comparable to it is known from any ancient scientific text or literary allusion. On the contrary, from all that we know of science and technology in the Hellenistic Age we should have felt that such a device could not exist.

At least 20 gear wheels were preserved, including a sophisticated assembly of gears that were mounted eccentrically on a turntable.

The device also contained a differential gear, permitting two shafts to rotate at different speeds. Doors were hinged to the box to protect the dials inside. As to its purpose: the mechanism appeared to have been a device for calculating the motions of stars and planets: a working model of the solar system.

John Gleave constructed a working replica of the mechanism. According to his reconstruction, the front dial shows the annual progress of the sun and moon through the zodiac… against the Egyptian calendar. But, as if to remain neutral in the Egyptian or Greek debate, he stated that the upper rear dial displays a four-year period and has associated dials showing the Metonic cycle of 235 synodic months (19 solar years). The lower rear dial plots the cycle of a single synodic month, with a secondary dial showing the lunar year of 12 synodic months.

Another reconstruction was made in 2002 by Michael Wright, mechanical engineering curator for the Science Museum in London, working with the above mentioned Allan Bromley. Wright’s reconstruction confirmed the now accepted conclusion that the device was indeed there to model the motions of sun, moon and the five planets.
By netchicken: posted on 27-2-2006

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