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On the Antikytheria Mechanism...

Once upon a time, someone in ancient Greece built a complex assemblage of gears to predict eclipses etc. The rest is.. interesting.

Thanks for the link, filkertom!


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 29th, 2011 03:45 am (UTC)
That is absolutely amazing.

I suppose the Lego version had more gears because they weren't manufactured as common reduction gears (a smaller diameter gear on the larger gear's shaft).
Mar. 29th, 2011 07:20 am (UTC)
Could be. Must've been quite a job getting so many precision gears for the original. I also wonder how many there were - was this it, or where there a number of them in places where predictions were important (oracles, major temples of gods who did astronomy/astrology, that sort of thing?) Was it a deep dark secret (which would certainly explain why nothing else seems to have been done this way at the time)? The mind boggles.

Edited at 2011-03-29 07:21 am (UTC)
Mar. 29th, 2011 02:23 pm (UTC)
Consider the probabilities.

Only one was made. AND that single copy had such good metallurgy and precisely cut gears. AND that the single copy sank to the bottom of a shallow sea. AND that it was eventually rediscovered by skin-divers. The odds of us discovering the only one in existence are pretty low.

I would think it likely that there were dozens of these devices around Greece. They would be treasures, certainly. And they were hidden, buried and forgotten lest they fall into invading army's hands. Or destroyed by the invaders. Or their rare metals melted down for swords.
Mar. 29th, 2011 09:54 pm (UTC)
Yes, the odds would be pretty low we'd find it, which is why I wondered not so much why we never found another one, but why the techniques didn't show up elsewhere at the time. Could be nothing more than no other things appeared to need them and goodness knows they'd be ExpenSive to make. This being well before the days of geared clocks (which of course also need to be self mobile, not just sit there 'til someone turns the crank.)
Mar. 29th, 2011 02:18 pm (UTC)
And somewhere, the spirit of some ancient manager is still complaining that the engineers who built it have not proven reliability or provided certs or that the metals are reliable enough or that the computations are correct or...
Mar. 29th, 2011 09:57 pm (UTC)
Grin. I wouldn't doubt it.

"Who shall doubt "the secret hid
Under Cheops' pyramid"
Was that the contractor did
Cheops out of several millions?"
(from Rudyard Kipling's "A General Summary")
Mar. 30th, 2011 01:07 am (UTC)
This is awesome!

Make magazine had an article on the Device a while back, in which I discovered that it included a gear for predicting the Olympic games (which the magazine termed "bloatware"). I was quite amused.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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