Antikythera: 2000 year old computer reconstructed

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by Nixels, Dec 15, 2008.

  1. Nixels

    Nixels Face fears - live life

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    It might not be as good as the newest Mac, but it's an impressive computer for its time. And the story of its rediscovery, and Michael Wright figured out what was going on and built a modern version.


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    From the Guardian article:


    Antikythera: A 2,000-year-old Greek computer comes back to life
    Watch a working model of the ancient clockwork device that some call the world's first computer
    Comments (34)

    Regulars of the Science Weekly podcast will remember our interview with Jo Marchant, the author of Decoding the Heavens. The book tells the story of the Antikythera mechanism, a mysterious clockwork object made up of numerous meshed cogs that was discovered more than a century ago among the cargo of a Greek shipwreck.

    The mystery of how the Greeks had made a machine that appeared to be 1800 years ahead of its time and why that knowledge was seemingly lost is fascinating, but Marchant's story is really about the scientists and engineers who have fallen under the spell of the Antikythera mechanism over the last century. It is a gripping tale of scientific obsession, rivalry and skulduggery.

    If there is one thing that lets the book down, it lacks clear diagrams of how the cogs fitted together and hence how the mechanism worked. This video makes up for that. It shows Michael Wright's working model of the Antikythera mechanism. I defy you not to be amazed.
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  2. blake716

    blake716 nine toes

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    Impressive it is, especially for its time.
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  3. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

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    Is "computer" a misnomer? Just glancing at the article leads me to ask if the device is programmable.
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  4. Bubba Satori

    Bubba Satori Finding my way home

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  5. Nixels

    Nixels Face fears - live life

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    Hmm, good question. I'll check tomorrow - this is the end of my Dawn Patrol shift. (Yeah, I know it hasn't even started, but that's too bad, I'm at the end of my program schedule) :snore
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  6. Xeraux

    Xeraux Archvillain

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    The gearing is the "programming", if you will. Conceptually, changing the gearing out would be "reprogramming".

    It's a computer like a calculator is a computer.
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  7. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

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    That seems more like a clock than a computer.
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  8. Xeraux

    Xeraux Archvillain

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    If you really think about it, that's what a clock is too. A single function computer.
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  9. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

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    But isn't what makes a computer a computer its programmability?:ear
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  10. Nixels

    Nixels Face fears - live life

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    I want to get the plans and build a Jo Momma Antikythera. Put all the head explosions on it, and all the likely beat downs that cRaSH is gonna have with Inmates on here. Then there will be the cycles of all the ADV events, and a list of ADVer's that will hook up in a given time. Oh, and there'd have to be the disasterous rides, fundraisers for laid-up Inmates and the next four times the servers have to be changed out.

    Hedge36 to the white courtesy phone...

    :deal
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  11. Nixels

    Nixels Face fears - live life

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    Hey now. :thwak Anything less complicated than a Crackberry is considered child's play and unworthy of discussion as a computer. Siddown and shaddup.

    The likes of you'n'me aren't worthy of our impressionable minds about something done so long ago they didn't even have iPods when it was invented.

    :pot
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  12. Xeraux

    Xeraux Archvillain

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    You're still thinking digital.

    Like I said, you can change the gearing and you've "reprogrammed" it. There are mechanical analog computers.
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  13. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

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    No, I'm not thinking digitally. Isn't what makes a computer not just a calculator its ease of reprogramming? This is a definitions question.
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  14. WaterWheel

    WaterWheel Multi Talentless

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    It's still probably faster than the Dell I have at home.
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  15. Xeraux

    Xeraux Archvillain

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    If it calculates something it is "computing" it, is it not?
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  16. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

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    That could be, but then why don't we call a clock a computer?
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  17. biggziff

    biggziff Funk Soul Bruvah

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  18. Xeraux

    Xeraux Archvillain

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    Because we call it a clock or a timepiece or a watch or a... You get the idea.

    You're defining "computer" too narrowly. A computer is used to calculate something. Its gearing is calculating the position of the moon, stars, planets, etc. It's a computer.
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  19. wyowillys46

    wyowillys46 Hau Ruck!

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    I seem to remember reading somewhere that the Russian Navy was using mechanical computers aboard ships up until the early eighties or so.
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  20. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

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    I remember the mechanical "target data computers" that were used during WW2 to calculate firing solutions for weapons. It's true I tend to thing of these kind of devices as calculators because the "software" is not easily changeable. I think of a computer as the type of machine which can be told to calculate entirely different types of problems easily..."reprogrammed."


    I want to call the Antikythera an astronomical clock. A position calculator for the heavenly bodies. If it can't be easily adapted to calculate the rate grain rises in a bin when fed by a conveyor belt running at varying rates:D I wouldn't call it a computer.
    #20