Decoding the Heavens: A 2,000-Year-Old Computer--and the by Jo Marchant

By Jo Marchant

The bronze fragments of an historic Greek equipment have questioned students for greater than a century when they have been recovered from the ground of the Mediterranean Sea, the place they'd lain given that approximately eighty BC. Now, utilizing complex imaging know-how, scientists have solved the secret of its complex workings. unrivaled in complexity for 1000 years, the mechanism functioned because the world’s first analog laptop, calculating the pursuits of the solar, moon, and planets during the zodiac.
In Decoding the Heavens, Jo Marchant info for the 1st time the hundred-year quest to decode this historic machine. alongside the way in which she finds a various solid of exceptional characters—ranging from Archimedes to Jacques Cousteau—and explores the deep roots of contemporary expertise, not just in historic Greece, yet within the Islamic international and medieval Europe. At its middle, this can be an epic experience tale, a ebook that demanding situations our assumptions approximately know-how improvement throughout the a while whereas giving us clean insights into heritage itself.

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Extra resources for Decoding the Heavens: A 2,000-Year-Old Computer--and the Century-Long Search to Discover Its Secrets

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Svoronos and Rediadis concluded that the Antikythera mechanism must therefore be a kind of astrolabe. Astrolabes were among the cleverest instruments thought to have been around in antiquity, and they were calculators of a sort. They were used for solving problems relating to the time and the position of the Sun and stars in the sky, and they were popular until the seventeenth century or so, when increasingly accurate clocks and astronomical tables began to render them obsolete. The essence of an astrolabe, however, was something that the new technologies could never replace.

But the damage is limited. These new compounds form a thin layer on the surface of any bronze object that is left in the sea, which protects it from further corrosion. That’s why the bronze statues brought up from the Antikythera wreck were quite well preserved – once they were cleaned, the original form of the ancient figures was revealed. But the chemicals formed by the corrosion of bronze can turn nasty. Copper chloride is a stable compound in water, but not in air. When objects that have been corroded in this way are removed from the sea, the copper chloride reacts with oxygen and moisture in the air to form hydrochloric acid.

Svoronos and Rediadis’s discovery of the zodiac scale certainly suggested that the Antikythera mechanism had something to do with astronomy. But it wasn’t like any other astrolabe that was known at the time. For a start, astrolabes weren’t square and they didn’t come in wooden boxes. More fundamentally, although astrolabes had scales and pointers, they didn’t have any need for gearwheels. Like everyone else who saw the mechanism, Professor Rediadis was astonished at the sophistication of its gearing, and despite Svoronos’s relatively late dating of it to the third century AD, he struggled to believe that this wasn’t a much more recent instrument.

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