FOR REAL: Ancient Greek Computer Reconstructed


Quote from WIKIPEDIA

"The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient artifact believed to be an early clockwork mechanism. It was discovered in a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera, between Kythera and Crete, and has been dated to about 87 BC.
The wreck was discovered in 1900 at a depth of about 40 m (140 ft), and many statues and other works were retrieved from it by sponge divers. On May 17, 1902, archaeologist Spyridon Stais noticed that one of the pieces of rock had a gear wheel embedded in it.

The mechanism is the oldest known surviving geared mechanism, made from bronze in a wooden frame, and has puzzled and intrigued historians of science and technology since its discovery. The most commonly accepted theory of its function is that it was an analog computer designed to track the movements of heavenly objects. Recent working reconstructions of the device support this analysis. The device is all the more impressive for its use of a differential gear, which was previously believed to have been invented in the 16th century"



Isn’t it amazing what a society (even one as ancient as the old Greek civilization) can accomplish when knowledge is one of their greatest pursuits.

And with that, how horribly backward the world became during the Dark Ages when tons and tons of knowledge was essentially lost for hundreds of years because certain beliefs frowned upon learning and expanding of one’s mind and instead blindly believing in their teachings.

Am I the only one that thinks we are headed toward the Dark Ages?


Time to start listening again to Billy Joel’s We didnt start the fire.



We’re not moving to the Dark Ages, we’re moving to the TV Ages.


Althought I don’t think it will be necessarily soon, I also wonder if we are headed for a “modern” Dark Ages.

That’s what happens when people no longer seek for the truth - whether it be scientific, religious, or whatever - but become satisfied with accepting non-truth in favor of mental comfort, personal satisfaction, or what have you. Thinking during the Dark Ages went sour when people began to define their own thoughts as immediate truth. This is what happens when there is no longer an accepted standard for truth, and people are told that however they see the world is the correct view. In a world that pursues peace through tolerance and compromises, this is unavoidable.

This certainly is the ‘golden age of information,’ eh?


we record more information than ever now, it’s unlikely to be a dark age, though unless some of that information gets onto a more permanent media than we’re currently using it may end up being that way to future historians.

anyhow this really is a quite fascinating window into the past.


Social tolerance is about respecting people’s beliefs and not disparaging against people because of those beliefs, it has nothing to do with contradictorily agreeing with everyone, or keeping silent about what you think.

In any case, I’d say that western society as a whole nowadays is at least as accepting of new ideas as Renaissance Florence (just not as interested in art and culture). Seriously, if you promoted evolution and open acceptance of homosexuals in Renaissance Florence, you’d have been thrown in jail-- look at how much the church oppressed the humanists-- nowadays you can’t hardly find an intellectual anywhere who isn’t one. Social progress hasn’t been stagnating at all.


[i]“Social tolerance is about respecting people’s beliefs and not disparaging against people because of those beliefs, it has nothing to do with contradictorily agreeing with everyone, or keeping silent about what you think.”

[/i]I agree that’s what tolerence is supposed to be; unfortunately I have to look hard to find that played out in real life. =/
I’m not historian or anything, but it seems that in the Dark Ages, one group decided they were right and the rest were heretical enough to die. Nowadays, it seems that everyone is right (except for those who don’t agree - how that makes sense, I’ll never know). We’ve left one extreme only to head for another.

I’m not trying to cause disagreement here or anything; I’m just trying to say it doesn’t make sense to me why society does what it does.

Anyhow, the “Antikythera mechanism” they found is pretty neat =). It is amazing how smart older civilizations were. Sometimes I wonder why I would expect anything less - they were intelligent, thinking humans just like us.


That machine is pretty amazing. They also had a rough steam engine, which they used for theatre only. Since labour (read: slaves) was so inexpensive, they (the greeks / romans) had no need for machines to do labour.
If you love to read about machinery in ancient times, written by someone from that time, read Marcus Vitruvius Pollo’s : De Architectura (link to complete book)

@andyman : what you call “everyone is right” is actually what we call post-modernism. In the 19th century people stopped believing that an authory could enforce what to believe and what not. Basically everyone had the same idea of what the world was because someone had said so in the past. Because of scientific discoveries, which debunked those “said so” arguments. And also because of the fallibility of kings (who said they were appointed by god, and infallible) , yet where overthrown during the age of revolution (French and russian revolution) People simple no longer accepted any metaphysical truth.
In this age, IMHO, people are still getting to grips with their identity of these implications. We have the tools (access to unlimited information) to discover what actually makes this world tick. I think people have their own responsability these days (and not everyone takes on this challenge) to find their gems in these piles of information, instead of waiting for someone to tell them what to believe, because they ‘say so’


The Greeks believed in an earth-centric universe and accounted for celestial bodies’ motions using elaborate models based on epicycles, in which each body describes a circle (the epicycle) around a point that itself moves in a circle around the earth

Yes…that much is true. They believed this theory, despite of the fact that there was a guy, whou said the Sun is in the center. And this was centuries before Galilei.
Makes me wonder what else did they knew.
It’s a pitty we can’t see any pictures in the article… i would be rather interrested how it looks like.


See that is the thing though… I see groups today are trying to push their own views and are gaining legitimacy. Sure we are recording more info now than ever before, but that also means we are recording more wrong information than ever before too - to the point that future generations might have a tough time sifting through the propoganda versus the ‘real’ truths. And by “future generations” I don’t even mean like 100 or 1000 yaers from now - I mean even 10 to 20 years from now. Some of these people are hearing about these wrong “facts” and are accepting it as truth.

I think one of the biggest (and scariest) examples is how one group is pushing their own ‘creationist’ (religious) idea inplace of the accepted scientific evolution. It all sounded like a big joke just a few years ago, yet these peole have successfully gotten their teachings to be taught in school somewhere down South (in the US). I see stuff like this as just the begining - if these peoplle can get a foot-hold into the school system to start teaching fairly tales such as creationism, what happens when the kids of today have their own children? Those children in the future are then going to be even less likely to accept scientific evidence as fact since they were taught in school that it just might not be so.

I find the repercutions to be devastating to future generations.


Without diving too much into religion, but the whole school thing is the automatic reaction; if you can’t get people to believe it by themselves, you’ll have to force-feed it into them. Thing is there is a rise of atheism over the years and typically religion finds only one thing worse as ‘other religion’ and that is ‘no religion’.

Ah well. Look at wikipedia. A light age of knowledge, but a dim age of thinking. Then again, I have no evidence people used to think more in the past :stuck_out_tongue:


The whole “new dark age” idea is America centric. Just because the US has dominated scientific discovery for the last hundred years doesn’t mean that when our coutry is overun by ludites other coutries won’t take up the torch. Already South Korea is leaping ahead in stem cell research, and unlike back is the dark ages, the information on how science works is spread far and wide.

It would take a global level disaster to put us back 100 years at this point.


And knowledge has been distributed in so many medias (Books in MILLIONS of Libraries, Internet, Cd roms, educated people) in so many ways
it would take one hell of a worldwide coordinated effort to get rid of it.


It happened more than once before when the “known world” was under the rule of one empire… and then crash-boom-bang all it’s knowledge essentially disapeared needing hundreds/thousnads of more years to catch-up to that level. So I sooo don’t think that it is unpossible for it to happen again.


And while I soooo do not see the world through Uncle Sam-colored glasses, the US is still definitly the single biggest driving force in the world when it comes to most types of advances. Just the shear amount of wealth that can be generated here always makes it a main focus for technology (or anything really) even if it wasn’t created here (and more and more it isn’t created here).

NINJA - your point about stem cell research is dead-on, and in that field the technology imbalance will jsut get worse because certain groups in this country deem research in that field “unethical”. As unbeleivably close-minded as that is, that is not going to change for a long time which will throw the US many years behind the rest of the world.


That itself is a very America centric POV. :slight_smile:
Even the space program has a lot to owe to foreigners who came to work in the US. Lets not forget that the guy who turned the American space program from a expensive lawn dart operation to the moon landing was the german V2 rocket inventor Wernher Von Braun, who was poached from the nazis at the end of WW2. :wink:

Jet engine? Germans invented that. (and Frank Whittle too, at the same time)
Radar? British
Theory of Relativity? German.
Nukes? International team.
DNA discovery? USA and UK.
Internet? USA
World Wide Web? UK
Telephone? Bell was Scottish
etc etc.

And lets not forget that clever chap Tesla (Ukraine I believe), who was not as good as Edison at bullshitting but certainly was a smarter guy. :lightbulb

My point is that not any one country can claim dominance… although a lot of smart people did go to work in the states, being the land of opportunity that it was.
(no Anti-American setiment here whatsover, just want to make that clear).


I think you are missing the ppoint in that - yes, many inventors/researchers are NOT from the US, yet that is the beauty of the US - people from around the world used to come here becasue it WAS the land of opportunity. Like all the items you listed mention “internation team” or “Scottish origin”, yet where did most of those inventions/discoviers take place - in the US. Einstein wasn’t American, but he sure as hell came here (or was semi-forced into coming here), same with all the German rocket guys from WW2.

My perspective couldn’t be more non-US centric (for someone born and raised here), but just cuz Mr XXXXX originally came from YYYYY doesn’t negate the fact that he made his dicoveries in the US.


People can we back on TOPIC.



Hazdaz: cannot argue with that. :smiley:


Nor me, but I would like to put some more emphasis on ‘WAS’.

<runs off, laughing mechieviously>