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Science & Technology

Gravitational wave science applied to mysterious Antikythera mechanism

By T.K. Randall
June 28, 2024 · Comment icon 9 comments

The Antikythera mechanism. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Joyofmuseums
Techniques used to analyze gravitational waves have now been applied to this enigmatic artifact.
Dating back around 2,000 years, the Antikythera mechanism - originally found in a shipwreck by sponge divers in 1901 - is one of the most fascinating archaeological artifacts ever discovered.

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

Over the years, experts have spent countless hours examining the device to determine what it was used for, with the prevailing theory being that it was some form of early astronomical computer.

More recently, scientists at the University of Glasgow conducted a new analysis of the mechanism by applying the same statistical modeling techniques that had been used to analyze gravitational waves - ripples in the fabric of spacetime produced by major cosmic events.
This enabled the team to solve a long-standing mystery over whether the mechanism's calendar ring has 354 holes or 365 - with 354 (corresponding to the lunar calendar) being deemed far more likely.

The finding also serves to back up existing theories of the purpose and function of the device.

"It's given me a new appreciation for the Antikythera mechanism and the work and care that Greek craftspeople put into making it," said study co-author Dr. Joseph Bayley.

"The precision of the holes' positioning would have required highly accurate measurement techniques and an incredibly steady hand to punch them."

Source: | Comments (9)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by vader4611 14 days ago
i think this thing is something from the past way before time as we know it i think we are not supposed to have it
Comment icon #2 Posted by Grim Reaper 6 14 days ago
It’s very difficult to say at this point in time, but I do find the gravitational wave hypothesis an interesting take that I have heard before.. By the way, welcome to forum!
Comment icon #3 Posted by Piney 14 days ago
You know nothing about it and didn't read the article I take it. It's a orrery using 2nd Century Greek math. Something we no longer use. Why are we not supposed to have it.
Comment icon #4 Posted by superman73 14 days ago
Piney..You don't think this is a historical anomaly? It's the only one in existence of Its kind!
Comment icon #5 Posted by Piney 14 days ago
No, because I have a idea how much knowledge was lost and how many physical objects survive history. The Greeks had some serious math and engineering skills and Archimedes built some great stuff. Cicero mentions 2 similar devices in De re Publica which were captured during the siege of Syracuse when Archimedes was killed.   
Comment icon #6 Posted by Jaded1 13 days ago
Why do you say that? There's no evidence for it being anything other than a Greek contraption, built around the 2nd century BC. Yes, it's advanced for its time (although there are many Greek inventions that were ahead of their time; they were obsessed with building automata such as Heron's fountain, etc.), but the Greeks WERE advanced for their time. They built what's considered to be the first working steam engine and if things had turned out a little bit differently, we could have had an industrial revolution type scenario 1500 or 1600 years before we did. Archimedes was also close to develo... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by qxcontinuum 10 days ago
Oh by the way, it wasn't even that well built as it had triangular shaped gears rather than trapezoid like modern gears which required a lot of force to push the mechanism that was causing gears to break easily. However credit must be given to builders as it could have been the first clock ever built. That's right ; it's a clock I remember now that Greeks have even built an automaton of a bird singing with flapping wings, water and vapors based some 200 years bc. Romans, also had moving chariots in their temples to make belivers think gods are answering their prayers. There has been so much m... [More]
Comment icon #8 Posted by Piney 10 days ago
That's what a orrery is. A clock using the solar system. There was so much knowledge lost during wars and religious purges we can only guess.    
Comment icon #9 Posted by Piney 10 days ago
I just remembered the Alexander Glycon hoax using a mechanical head. 

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