Antikythera Mechanism

Antikythera Mechanism

The Antikythera mechanism is a two thousand year old device found in a wreck of a Greek ship near the island of Antikythera. It is speculated that the mechanism is the oldest mechanical computer. It was discovered in 1901 by sponge divers who were waiting out a storm near the island of Antikythera.
The Antikythera Mechanism is widely debated among scientists. One thing they debate is its origins. Originally believed that Posidonius and maybe Hipparchus constructed it, but more recent studies have associated it with Archimedes. Scientists also disagree on where it was built. The early conclusions were that it was built in Rhodes because it was a center of Astronomy at the time. But more recently, some researchers have concluded that it was built in or near Corinth. It probably was being transported to Rome for the triumphal march of Julius Caesar at the time of the wreck. What we do know about it is that the gears in the device were ahead of its time, considering that the shape and size of the gears are comparable to clocks from the eighteenth century, seventeen hundred years in the future. Because of the state in which the device was found, no one knows how many gears there were originally. Because of the assumption that it measures lunar positions, scientists believe that it is geocentric. So far, there are three main rings, each had mechanisms attached to them that did various things. The front dial probably measured the sun, the moon, and the date. It probably had hands to measure, just like a clock. It also had a gadget that recorded lunar phases. It measured with the Scothic year. Lastly, it had an almanac that measured stars imprinted on it. The second ring was a mentonic cycle, which is used to fix calendars. There are references to gadgets measuring the five planets known at the time, but all but one ring have not been found. On the last ring is Saros cycle which is used to predict eclipses. Another ring is thought to measure the Callippic cycle and the time between Olympic Games. One person has also hypothesized that the Antikythera Mechanism had differential gears for adjusting angular momentum. This opinion however is not shared by many. The dates needed for the calculations were set by crank which would turn the gears. The mechanism was the first analog computer which saved a lot of time by skipping the drawn out calculations needed for astronomy. Because of stone encasing it, there are probably more rings still sixty feet below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea. Also because of the stone, most early research was hampered. The Antikythera mechanism has changed modern thinking of the technological advances in Greece at the time less than a hundred years before the birth of Jesus. The construction of the gears is very similar in shape and size to the gears during the middle Ages. Because gears are the basics of most technology, so therefore much of modern technology can trace it’s ancestry to the Antikythera mechanism.

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