Download e-book for kindle: A Portable Cosmos: Revealing the Antikythera Mechanism, by Alexander Jones

By Alexander Jones

ISBN-10: 019973934X

ISBN-13: 9780199739349

From the lifeless Sea Scrolls to the Terracotta military, historical artifacts have lengthy involved the fashionable international. in spite of the fact that, the significance of a few discoveries isn't really continually instantly understood. This used to be the case in 1901 while sponge divers retrieved a lump of corroded bronze from a shipwreck on the backside of the Mediterranean Sea close to the Greek island of Antikythera. Little did the divers be aware of they'd came upon the oldest identified analog computing device on this planet, an extraordinary machine that after simulated the motions of the celebs and planets as they have been understood via historical Greek astronomers. Its is still now encompass eighty two fragments, a lot of them containing gears and plates engraved with Greek phrases, that scientists and students have pieced again jointly via painstaking inspection and deduction, aided by way of radiographic instruments and floor imaging. greater than a century after its discovery, the various secrets and techniques locked during this mysterious equipment can now be printed.

In addition to chronicling the not going discovery of the Antikythera Mechanism, writer Alexander Jones takes readers via a dialogue of the way the equipment labored, how and for what objective it used to be created, and why it was once on a boat that wrecked off the Greek coast round 60 BC. What the Mechanism has exposed approximately Greco-Roman astronomy and medical know-how, and their position in Greek society, is really impressive. The mechanical information that it embodied was once extra complex than something the Greeks have been formerly inspiration able to, however the latest learn has published that its screens have been designed in order that an informed layman may comprehend the habit of astronomical phenomena, and the way intertwined they have been with one's common and social atmosphere. It was once instantly a masterpiece of equipment in addition to one of many first moveable instructing units. Written by means of a world-renowned specialist at the Mechanism, A moveable Cosmos will fascinate all readers attracted to historical heritage, archaeology, and the historical past of science.

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Additional info for A Portable Cosmos: Revealing the Antikythera Mechanism, Scientific Wonder of the Ancient World

Example text

A planetarium? 14 Up to this point, the Mechanism had been studied by specialists in the physical remains of antiquity (archeologists, a numismatist, an epigrapher) and authorities on naval history. 1, on right) was a philologist—​an expert on Greek and Latin texts—​who had come to believe that a fully rounded student of antiquity should have experience with both the ancient texts handed down through the medieval manuscript tradition and the material remains recovered by modern archeology. For several years, therefore, he took part as an epigrapher in the German excavations at Miletus in Asia Minor and other sites.

On closer examination, however, there are many variations in the way that letters were formed, and some of these reflect changes of fashion. To take some easily recognized examples, arc-​shaped forms of epsilon and sigma (E as opposed to Ε, Σ as opposed to Σ) are characteristic of inscriptions of the Roman period—​that is, “AD” centuries, while a “W-​shaped” form of omega (Ω as opposed to Ω) becomes frequent not much earlier. Inscriptions that contain dates, describe datable events, or were found in an archeological context from which we can determine when they were made provide a basis of comparison against which one can attempt to estimate the date of a given inscription.

Rediadis was capable of noticing small details, for example a tiny rectangular notch on one of the gears of Fragment A, which a century later was shown to be a key element of one of the Mechanism’s most sophisticated functions (see p. 219). But he gives few measurements and makes no attempt to estimate the numbers of teeth on the gears that he saw, data without which one cannot begin a serious consideration of how the gearwork operated. The photographs, with one exception, are half-​size, which is unhelpful given that the fragments were small to begin with, and the quality of their reproduction is poor.

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A Portable Cosmos: Revealing the Antikythera Mechanism, Scientific Wonder of the Ancient World by Alexander Jones


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