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Earlier than thought: New clue in riddle regarding ancient computing machine?

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Find Clues to an Ancient Greek Riddle
Antikythera relic/Giovanni Dall Orto

From Phys.org:

The Antikythera mechanism of two millennia ago, retrieved from a shipwreck in 1901, modeled the known universe. It has sometimes been called “world’s first computer.”

After several years of studying the mechanism and Babylonian records of eclipses, the collaborators have pinpointed the date when the mechanism was timed to begin—205 B.C. This suggests the mechanism is 50–100 years older than most researchers in the field have thought.

The new work fills a gap in ancient scientific history by indicating that the Greeks were able to predict eclipses and engineer a highly complex machine—sometimes called the world’s first computer—at an earlier stage than believed. It also supports the idea that the eclipse prediction scheme was not based on Greek trigonometry (which was nonexistent in 205 B.C.)—but on Babylonian arithmetical methods, borrowed by the Greeks.

Far more conjecturally, this timing also makes an old story told by Cicero more plausible—that a similar mechanism was created by Archimedes and carried back to Rome by the Roman general Marcellus, after the sack of Syracuse and the death of Archimedes in 212 B.C. If the Antikythera mechanism did indeed use an eclipse predictor that worked best for a cycle starting in 205 BC, the likely origin of this machine is tantalizingly close to the lifetime of Archimedes. More.

Here’s the abstract:

The eclipse predictor (or Saros dial) of the Antikythera mechanism provides a wealth of astronomical information and offers practically the only possibility for a close astronomical dating of the mechanism. We apply a series of constraints, in a sort of sieve of Eratosthenes, to sequentially eliminate possibilities for the epoch date. We find that the solar eclipse of month 13 of the Saros dial almost certainly belongs to solar Saros series 44. And the eclipse predictor would work best if the full Moon of month 1 of the Saros dial corresponds to May 12, 205 BCE, with the exeligmos dial set at 0. We also examine some possibilities for the theory that underlies the eclipse times on the Saros dial and find that a Babylonian-style arithmetical scheme employing an equation of center and daily velocities would match the inscribed times of day quite well. Indeed, an arithmetic scheme for the eclipse times matches the evidence somewhat better than does a trigonometric model. (paywall)

See also:

Antikythera Mechanism

Lost manuscripts, recovered after exhaustive efforts, establish Archimedes as the founder of combinatorics

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13 Replies to “Earlier than thought: New clue in riddle regarding ancient computing machine?

  1. 1
    Joe says:

    Pfft- How do we know that they had the capability of designing and constructing such a device? And until we know that AND exactly how it was designed and constructed we cannot even call it an artifact.

    😎

  2. 2
    M. Holcumbrink says:

    Agreed, Joe. We cannot know whether or not it was even designed unless we know exactly who the designer was. The moment you say “this was clearly designed”, that’s the moment all other inquiry comes to a screeching halt – questions as to how such a device could have formed naturally won’t even be attempted. In fact, our duty is to make sure we tell our children at the point of a gun that mechanisms like this were somehow formed by either chance or natural law, lest their tender inquisitive minds be assaulted and stifled by such nonsense.

  3. 3
    beau says:

    ^^^^^^^ Excellent.

  4. 4
    Joe says:

    Furthermore, we know that nature can produce gears cuz we have seen functioning ‘mechanical gears’ in an organism.

    Duplicate, modify, integrate and badda-bing, badda-boom, a mechanism for eclipses and such.

    😎

  5. 5
    Mapou says:

    This clearly shows that humans were just as smart two thousands years ago as they are now. Contrary to Darwinist claims, our intelligence did not evolve. Any evolution that occurred in humans in that span of time owes nothing to Darwinism.

  6. 6
    Axel says:

    It just looks designed. If one were not alive to the danger, one could easily be deceived by its appearance; especially, its resemblance to a mechanical artifact.

  7. 7
    Robert Byers says:

    The authors of the study should not use bce. ITS BC. Who gave them the right to change our measure of time?
    There is a great youtube video on this machine.
    Why couldn’t error, from its creators, be in this machine and so goig back that far is not right?
    Why is everything the first computer? its not a computer! its just bicycle gears !
    why not the first bicycle! our computers are not just minor bumps and grinds from primitive days.
    Anyways a cool thread.

  8. 8
    Zachriel says:

    Mapou: This clearly shows that humans were just as smart two thousands years ago as they are now.

    Why would you think otherwise? Modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens, dates to well before the advent of agriculture.

    M. Holcumbrink: We cannot know whether or not it was even designed unless we know exactly who the designer was.

    Actually, we have a very good idea. The Antikythera mechanism, a brass instrument, was found in a wreck of a sea-going vessel manufactured by a peculiar breed of simian creature, who had knowledge of metalworking. We know the simians of the period were very interested in the movements of the planets, indeed, they associated the planets with their gods, which often resembled simians with enhanced powers.

    As it took a hugely complex machine to mirror the movements of the planets, the simians thought that the planetary orbits were likewise designed. How could they not! Imagine calculating the CSI, FSCI, dFSCI, FiiRDS, FSCO/I of the Antikythera mechanism which mirrored the orbits of the planets.

    It was only much later that a particularly intelligent simian discovered that planetary movements, as complex as they were, were explainable by a simple physical principle.

  9. 9
    Joe says:

    The Antikythera mechanism, a brass instrument, was found in a wreck of a sea-going vessel manufactured by a peculiar breed of simian creature,

    Cuz it was found on a shipwreck it was made by simians? Really?

    Brilliant logic that. Too bad Zach cannot test its claim.

    It was only much later that a particularly intelligent simian discovered that planetary movements, as complex as they were, were explainable by a simple physical principle.

    The process that was produced by an intelligent agent

  10. 10
    M. Holcumbrink says:

    Zachriel: Imagine calculating the CSI, FSCI, dFSCI, FiiRDS, FSCO/I of the Antikythera mechanism which mirrored the orbits of the planets.

    Don’t even try that crap, Zachriel. I would like to see a bona fide calculation of csi, fsci, or whatever, for a single cog in the antikythera mechanism. If fsci is going to be your metric as to whether or not something was designed, you had better put up or shut up. Go ahead, let’s see the calculation, if you can produce it. And just because the mechanism was found in an oceangoing vessel doesn’t necessarily mean it was designed. Suppose the mechanism was found all by itself on the ocean floor – what then? Will you still maintain that the mechanism was designed? Until you can come up with the specific amount of fsci in a single cog, you have nothing. All you have is a ‘designer of the gaps’ argument.

    The fsci for a single cog, Zachriel. That’s all you have to provide. Only then will I consider the possibility that the thing has a designer. Good luck, and be sure to show your work.

  11. 11
    Zachriel says:

    M. Holcumbrink: I would like to see a bona fide calculation of csi, fsci, or whatever, for a single cog in the antikythera mechanism.

    Not sure there is an unambiguous definition of any of those terms.

    M. Holcumbrink: And just because the mechanism was found in an oceangoing vessel doesn’t necessarily mean it was designed.

    No, but it’s evidence like everything else. It supports an association with the simians known to build sea-going vessels.

    M. Holcumbrink: Suppose the mechanism was found all by itself on the ocean floor – what then?

    We would still associate the find with simians known to play the area with sea-going vessels, the same simians known to work in bronze, the same ones who were known to associate the movements of the planets with their gods.

  12. 12
    Phinehas says:

    Zachriel:

    What if the mechanism were found on Mars? What then?

  13. 13
    Querius says:

    Phinehas,

    The Simians obviously must have invented rockets to shoot down birds and other large flying creatures for food. One of the larger rockets must have exploded, sending a component with enough velocity in a trajectory to make it to Mars. Simple.

    Actually, this is all really very easy. You just need to learn how to think like a Darwinist.

    -Q

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