Antikythera mechanism

Explanation: What is it? It was found at the bottom of the sea aboard an ancient Greek ship. Its seeming complexity has prompted decades of study, although many of its functions remained unknown.

Recent X-rays of the device have now confirmed the nature of the Antikythera mechanism, and discovered several surprising functions. The Antikythera mechanism has been discovered to be a mechanical computer of an accuracy thought impossible in 80 BC, when the ship that carried it sunk.

Such sophisticated technology was not thought to be developed by humanity for another 1,000 years.

Its wheels and gears create a portable orrery of the sky that predicted star and planet locations as well as lunar and solar eclipses. The Antikythera mechanism, shown above, is 33 centimeters high and similar in size to a large book.

[Wonder if they had stop-watches to clock the Olympic sprints as well… and I’m not talking aboat sun dials :cool: ]

This is very cool. I remember hearing about this a few years ago. Don’t remember if they had any idea to its purpose though. It is amazing what both the Greeks and Romans were able to do.

The reason it took humanity another 1000 years was because all the people who knew how to use this technology built spaceships and left for another galaxy, leaving humanity to rediscover all of these things.

No they DIDN’T! They invented the coaching accreditation system, awarded themselves the highest order, then set about converting 9.7sec 100m men into 10.2 performers.

It seems like most of the great “devices” of the ancient world were mostly outliers. The romans (could have be greeks, i forget which) i think had a steam powered toy. If they realized that steam could be harnessed, they could have had an industrial revolution in BCE. However, i believe that the reason for the lack of the modern advances beyond this were the lack of advances in other realms of society (particularly economics and government), although i could be wrong. It seems like there is a certain degree of economic advancement/expansion for industrialization to be feasable (e.g. cheaper than the forced labor that both the Greeks and the Romans had as well as a large market for consumer goods). In some ways, I have read that the plague allowed Europe to industrialize faster, due to the increase in wealth per person, due to a 1/3 of the population dying off. (The book might be Guns,Germs and Steel, but I might be wrong).

Interesting book. Well worth a read.

Yes. That author’s other book ('Collapse", i think) is also very good.

It’s fantastic to see what they could create at the earliest times and only now are we figuring out how they did it (sometimes quite simply).
When I was a kid, we were taught how ignorant the powers-that-be were when they wouldn’t fund Columbus’ voyage (he’d fall off the edge and all that) That wasn’t the problem at all!
The Church had all of the Greek writings and knew that the Greeks had already calculated the true circumference of the earth. The Church scholars then subtracted the distance of the silk route to China going east from the circumference and were left with a distance going west to China that was too great for the ships to hold supplies for.
Columbus was sure he could get there because he’d talked to Fishermen who been going over to secret fishing grounds (assuming it was China) but neither group knew there was North and South America in between at all.

Spoken like a true marxist…

When inventing for himself, man is only copying nature. Nature created paper millions of years before humans did etc. The real questions are: Why have mankind, since the advent of modernity, spent so much of their energy on this process of outwardly copying nature? Why did ancient humanity choose not to go this route? What has happened since that has let us do so? What have we had to sacrifice on the way?

Very difficult to follow your question; where do you draw the line between the ancient and the modern; aren’t everything we do part of nature since we are nature as well?

I think you might be a bit off on the Marxist comment. I think it is closer to Smith’s (with some of its incompleteness) view of economics or maybe John Stuart Mill’s view, rather than Marx. I was mostly refering to those society’s economic inefficiencies, particularly in the realm of trade and agriculture. It appears to me that in order for a society to industrialize, there needs to be enough advances in agriculture to allow for a society to shift a significant portion of its labor over to production. Also, you need a large consumer class in order for this production to be profitable, for this to be viable as well. Ancient Rome and Greece never really had either of these things.

Really, obtaining any knowledge is like building a tower to the stars. You can keep building it higher at certain points (specialized advances), but it won’t be stable unless have a wide base and put in supports (advances in other fields). My favorite control theory prof said something to that effect in a lecture. (Primarily to drive in the point of learning more math).

As an aside, I have too little faith in the masses to be a Marxist. Marx was particularly right about organized religion though.

I am confused to this as well. Really i don’t think the ancient world was all that different than today (especially the classical ancient world). In general people tried there best to furfill Hobb’s view of human existance (brutish, nasty and short).

I have to argue with your claim regarding emulating nature. I don’t think human-kind has copied nature. It instead enslaved nature (for better or for worse, depending on your point of view), commanding it for utility. (How much control mankind has over nature is still up for grabs though, look at the effects of a hurricane). A computer is a perfect example of this. The silicon and the electricity came from nature and were harnessed for a non-natural purpose. That does pose the question that if math comes from nature which is a debate within itself.

That is probably correct (I wouldn’t really know). I have a habit of labeling any materialist world-view marxist.