Download Decoding the Heavens: A 2,000-Year-Old Computer--and the by Jo Marchant PDF

By Jo Marchant

The bronze fragments of an old Greek machine have wondered students for greater than a century when they have been recovered from the ground of the Mediterranean Sea, the place they'd lain for the reason that approximately eighty BC. Now, utilizing complex imaging know-how, scientists have solved the secret of its difficult workings. unequalled in complexity for one thousand years, the mechanism functioned because the world’s first analog machine, calculating the events of the solar, moon, and planets throughout the zodiac.
In Decoding the Heavens, Jo Marchant info for the 1st time the hundred-year quest to decode this old machine. alongside the best way she reveals a various forged of exceptional characters—ranging from Archimedes to Jacques Cousteau—and explores the deep roots of contemporary know-how, not just in historic Greece, yet within the Islamic global and medieval Europe. At its middle, this is often an epic event tale, a e-book that demanding situations our assumptions approximately know-how improvement in the course of the a while whereas giving us clean insights into heritage itself.

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

Sample text

For each revolution a pin on the wheel’s axle engaged a 400-tooth cogwheel, moving it around the equivalent of one tooth, so that the cogwheel made one complete turn for every mile. This wheel engaged another gear with holes along its circumference that held pebbles, so that as the gear turned the pebbles dropped one by one into a box. Counting the pebbles therefore gave the distance travelled, in miles. Perhaps Roman chariot drivers charged by the mile. We don’t know for sure that the devices were ever built, but the general idea seems sound enough and they may have been around much earlier than Vitruvius’ time.

It was hard to count the gears embedded in the battered fragments, but to Staïs and his colleagues at least 15 wheels were visible on the eroded surfaces alone. They seemed to have interacted to make certain numerical calculations, the answers to which would have been displayed via pointers on a scale. Rather than anything the ancient Greeks were supposed to have built, the sophistication of this mechanism made it look more like a clock or calculator. But if so it had to be nearly 2,000 years ahead of its time.

Rocky deposits completely covered the front of the third fragment, but on the back of it was 39 JO MARCHANT part of an illegible inscription, as well as a raised ring that intersected with another raised, curved edge. An inscribed letter ‘T’ was just discernible inside the ring, and something that looked like a movable pointer projected from the centre. The surface of the fourth fragment was completely eroded, but from the size and shape it looked as though it might contain a lonely cog. The number of gearwheels and the precision with which they were cut, along with the presence of various scales, pointers and inscriptions, perhaps instructions, immediately suggested to Staïs that this was a mechanical device for making accurate measurements or calculations.

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