World’s First Computer Displayed Olympic Calendar

01 Aug

Wired Science is reporting on a device referred to as the Antikythera Mechanism, which is believed to be the earliest known scientific instrument used to plot the positions of celestial bodies nineteen years into the future — as well as the next four Olympics.

Antithykera Mechanism

Antithykera Mechanism

Tony Freeth, co-author of a study to be published in Nature this week: “We don’t have any insights into the mind of the designer,” he said. “We can only look at the result — and the result is dazzling. You can only admire the person who made it.

The device which is approximately book-size and dates to 150 B.C. is an assembly of 37 dials apparently crafted with unusual precision and complexity. In fact, it appears that nothing rivaling it will appear for another 1000 years.

The machine was recovered in 1900 from a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera.

Freeth: “We haven’t found anything on the instrument that suggests it was used for astrology, which was suggested in the past,” he said. “I think the maker was showing off a huge amount of knowledge and skill. They demonstrated that you could take these theories  about how astronomical bodies move, and make a machine that would calculate them. That was a completely revolutionary idea.”

Watch the Nature film short here.

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Posted by on August 1, 2008 in Science News



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