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2,000-year-old Greek Antikythera mechanism rebuilt in Lego

I'm really struggling with this one! I'm *sure* it's within TMA's remit, but it just seems somehow a bit too out there! Ah well. It's within the timeline at least. There's been far less relevant stuff posted here, and it's REALLY interesting! So here goes! :D

"The world's oldest known computer, a 2,000-year-old Greek-built astronomical calendar, has been brought back to life in Lego form.

The Antikythera mechanism is a sophisticated, scientific instrument built in Ancient Greece around 100 BC. It was then lost for 2000 years in a Roman shipwreck below the seas off Antikythera island, until divers discovered it in 1901.

But while historians and archaeologists were fascinated by its complexity and precision, the amount of corrosion and number of missing parts meant its exact purpose was still unconfirmed for another century.

In 2006, archaeologists used high resolution X-ray tomography to peer behind the layers of filth and rust to read and translate more Greek inscriptions. The findings led historians to realise the computer was actually an incredibly accurate celestial calendar, capable of predicting solar and lunar eclipses.

And now Apple software engineer Andrew Carol has knocked up a faithful recreation of the machine out of Lego. He received the recreation request after building a Babbage Difference Engine in Lego.

The plastic Antikythera mechanism took just 30 days to design, prototype and build, and uses 1,500 Lego Technic parts and 110 gears. Slightly more than the original machine, but Carol had to work with the sizes that the Danish toy maker produced.

The final contraption is an incredible feat of engineering, with four separate gear boxes all linked up to a central pair of clocks that can tell you, to an accuracy of two hours, the exact time and date of upcoming solar and lunar eclipses. According to the machine, the next solar eclipse is due at 4:30 GMT on 8 April, 2024.

The remake is a fitting tribute to the relic, which remains as one of the forefathers of modern computing and mechanics. The ancient computer predated devices with such complexity and design by several centuries, as similar astronomical mechanisms didn't crop up again until the 14th century AD in Europe. The original Antikythera mechanism is kept at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens."

Goffik, if you are confused I suggest you read this page, particularly the 'primary concerns'.
goffik Posted by goffik
23rd June 2011ce
Edited 23rd June 2011ce

Comments (2)

That’s quite something Goff. The real thing was shown on telly last year. It’s just a block of melded metal now, but modern scanning techniques have shown the multiple layers of cogs that make up the machine; I guess those Lego fellas have used those scans for their model.

They certainly knew their astronomy and mathematics those ancients, and in my opinion anything that adds to our understanding of *their* understanding of those things might lead to a better understanding of the things we’re primarily interested in here...
Littlestone Posted by Littlestone
24th June 2011ce
That really was something. Quite fascinating.

blossom Posted by blossom
28th June 2011ce
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