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.

Show description

Read or Download Decoding the Heavens: A 2,000-Year-Old Computer--and the Century-Long Search to Discover Its Secrets PDF

Best astronomy books

Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of his Time

Anyone alive within the eighteeth century could have recognized that "the logitude problem" used to be the thorniest medical obstacle of the day--and have been for hundreds of years. missing the power to degree their longitude, sailors during the nice a while of exploration have been actually misplaced at sea once they overlooked land. hundreds of thousands of lives, and the expanding fortunes of countries, held on a resolution.

The medical institution of Europe--from Galileo to Sir Issac Newton--had mapped the heavens in either hemispheres in its sure pursuit of a celestial solution. In stark distinction, one guy, John Harrison, dared to visualize a mechanical solution--a clock that may continue percise time at sea, whatever no clock had ever been in a position to do on land. Longitude is a dramatic human tale of an epic medical quest and Harrison's forty-year obsession with development his ideal timekeeper, recognized this day because the chronometer. filled with heroism and chicanery, it's also a desirable short historical past of astronomy, navigation, and clockmaking, and opens a brand new window on our world.


In Longitude, Dava Sobel chronicles the world's quest to tame time. In 1714, the English Parliament handed the longitude act. It verified the Board of Longitude and provided a prize of 20,000 kilos to a person who may possibly discover a uncomplicated and useful process for the correct selection of a ship's longitude. specifically Sobel highlights John Harrison's pursuit of the prize. She lines the arc of his occupation, and info the thoughts of every of his next entries (H1-H5) regrettably, even supposing his Chronometers again and again proved their worthy in Sea trial after sea trial, and the watch speedy won adherents between sea captains, Harrison was once thwarted at each flip in his try and declare the prize. Jealous opponents at the board used their impact to alter the foundations of the competition a number of instances. His kinfolk with the board turned so acrimonious that finally his pals went over the board's head and appealed on to the King himself. George III requested unique act of Parliament be handed and Harrison ultimately bought his prize.

Despite it's brevity, Longitude is an extremely attractive and academic booklet. Sobel writes in a manner that makes the technological know-how and math obtainable to the final reader.


First released 1995
ebook ISBN13: 9780802779434

How Did We Find Out About Comets?

The phenomena of comets and astronomers' techniques approximately them are thought of traditionally and in view of current wisdom.

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

Example text

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.

Download PDF sample

Rated 4.41 of 5 – based on 31 votes