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2,000 year-old analogue computer

11/30/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

Link: http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2006/11/2000_year_old_c.html

I heard about this on the CBC this morning and thought "wow". The BBC has a more complete story on the Antikythera Mechanism, but in summary the Greeks built a mechanical gear-based tool for calculating astronomical cycles. This amazes me on two levels: first, there's the incredible scientific and mathematical sophistication of the ancient Greeks; the second is that they were capable of building such complex precision mechanical devices. It's taken since 1902 when the majority of the device was first found to now to try to decide what the parts did; the clincher was a further discovery of parts last year that allowed them create a reassembly of the unit.

From the BBC article:

Writing in Nature, the team says that the mechanism was "technically more complex than any known device for at least a millennium afterwards".
[...]
"When you see it your jaw just drops and you think: 'bloody hell, that's clever'. It's a brilliant technical design," said Professor Mike Edmunds.

Update (2006/11/30): Here's the Guardian's take on it.

 

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