Antikythera mechanism: The technology behind the world's oldest computer
- On 06/12/2009
- In Festivals, Conferences, Lectures
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From Ana Mpa
The Antikythera mechanism, one of the world's oldest known geared devices, is an ancient mechanical calculator, also described as the first known mechanical computer, designed to calculate astronomical positions, that has puzzled and intrigued science and technology historians since its it was recovered from an 80 BC wreck off the island of Antikythera in 1901.
Dated to about 150-100 BC, the intricacy of the way in which the Mechanism works was so startling to scientists that initially they often the device's dating, doubting it could be as old as it really was.
Technological artifacts of similar complexity did not reappear before the 14th century, when mechanical astronomical clocks appeared in Europe.
A lecture on the Mechanism was recently delivered by Professor Robert Hannah of the Classical Studies Department at New Zealand's Otago University to a packed audience at Sydney University in Australia, who tried to analyze the workings of the Mechanism and, more importantly, to explain how the ancient Greeks were able to create such a complex, precise and sophisticated instrument more than 2,000 years ago, stressing that scientists are still studying and trying to decipher the device.