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Archaeology & History

Could ancient computer predict the future ?

By T.K. Randall
June 13, 2016 · Comment icon 16 comments

What secrets does the Antikythera Mechanism hold ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Juanxi
Researchers have revealed their latest findings on the enigmatic 2,000-year-old Antikythera Mechanism.
Originally discovered in a shipwreck near Crete back in 1901, this remarkable gadget, which has been described as the world's first ever computer, has been the subject of much intrigue recently.

How the ancient Greeks developed the device, which is filled with a staggeringly intricate array of bronze gears, remains something of a mystery - especially given the time period it was built in.

It is generally believed that the mechanism was actually used as a type of astronomical computer capable of tracking and displaying the positions of the sun, moon and planets.

Researchers investigating the device revealed their latest findings at the Katerina Laskaridis Historical Foundation Library in Greece on Thursday which included, among other things, an analysis of the tiny lettering etched on to the surface of its surviving parts.
"What we hadn't realized was that the modern techniques that were being used would allow us to read the texts much better both on the outside of the mechanism and on the inside than was done before," said team member Mike Edmunds from Cardiff University.

The new analysis has also revealed that the mechanism might have actually been used to predict the future as well as to track the positions of known astronomical objects.

This possibility is based on references to the color of a forthcoming solar eclipse.

"We are not quite sure how to interpret this, to be fair, but it could hark back to suggestions that the color of an eclipse was some sort of omen or signal," said Edmunds.

"If that is so, and we are interpreting that correctly, this is the first instance we have in the mechanism of any real mention of astrology rather than astronomy."

Source: Gizmodo | Comments (16)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #7 Posted by pbarosso 8 years ago
when i see things like this it makes me sad that the roman and greek cultures could have fallen to backwards barbarian tribes. truly the enlightenment happened more than once and clearly illustrates how the roman grecco world was far more advanced than all others.
Comment icon #8 Posted by questionmark 8 years ago
Not quite, not quite. In Kepler's time you could not make a living with astronomy, but if you were good at quackery live quite comfortably with astrology. And given his discoveries and knowledge about astronomy he had to be aware that astrology is pure quackery.  
Comment icon #9 Posted by paperdyer 8 years ago
It's unfortunate, but the more a civilization becomes "more civilized", the easy it is for a barbarian race to defeat them.  This is why no matter how intellectual the human race becomes, there should always be a strong military to protect it.
Comment icon #10 Posted by unclefred 8 years ago
Kepler's views are of course, well recorded. He was skeptical of the fortune telling that had become so popular, but he did not think it pure quackery. He believed there was a kernal of truth and like Brahe said,  "Those who deny the influence of the planets violate its clear proofs, which it does not become people of sound judgement to contradict" Kepler's volume, De Fundamentis, is where he delves into the planetary influences and "certain fundamentals of Astrology." Aso, of course, being a court appointed Mathematition entailed a mix of Astrology as well as Astronomy and Mathematics. He... [More]
Comment icon #11 Posted by questionmark 8 years ago
Where I still doubt that he "believed". He was contradicting its axioms day by day. And he had to be perfectly aware of that. My bet is that the pro-astrology talk was more to keep himself in bread and wine. After all, Rudolph II did not pay measly, and in his old age he had no other source of income.  
Comment icon #12 Posted by unclefred 8 years ago
There is no question that his income stream was in large part from readings, almanacs etc. But his two volumes are quite clear about his belief in astrology.- the effect and influence of the heavenly bodies. As for readings and so forth, not so much.
Comment icon #13 Posted by questionmark 8 years ago
Well, either the man was not as intelligent as supposed and he did not know what he was discovering (something given his clear deions in the circulars he sent to fellow scientists is very doubtful) or he wrote the astrology part to keep the income. That is how I see it.  
Comment icon #14 Posted by TripGun 8 years ago
I heard the one built from legos can predict when you will need to poop.
Comment icon #15 Posted by unclefred 8 years ago
Kepler was undoubtedly an astrologer — but he was no respecter of astrological tradition. Kepler's astrology was on another plane altogether. His ideas seem radical even by the standards of mainstream astrology today. For a start, he dismissed the use of the 12 houses as 'Arabic sorcery'. While accepting that the angles were important, he could see no justification for conventional house division. "Demonstrate the old houses to me," he wrote to one of his correspondents, "Explain their number; prove that there can be neither fewer nor more... show me undoubted and striking examples of their ... [More]
Comment icon #16 Posted by Taun 8 years ago
It's not just a strong military that's key... The most important thing is a strong and vibrant citizenry... Once a society gets to a certain point it tends to "soften"... The citizens get more and more jaded and self centered, the more well off (financially, socially, etc) tend to have fewer and fewer children, and suddenly, they are dependent upon foreigners for "the dirty jobs" (i.e. the ones that actually keep the society safe and productive), and then BANG... a more vibrant, active "barbarian" culture invades and it's all over... This same is true today... 

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