APOD: Antikythera Mechanism (2006 Dec 05)

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APOD: Antikythera Mechanism (2006 Dec 05)

Post by Galactic Groove » Tue Dec 05, 2006 1:30 pm

http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap061205.html

It's truly amazing when we find out what man has done in ancient times. I think the intelligence of the people that created this, with respect to their time period, is unsurpassable when compared to the minds of today. Amazing

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Post by Dr. Skeptic » Tue Dec 05, 2006 1:57 pm

Speculation ≠ Science

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Post by Ayiomamitis » Tue Dec 05, 2006 5:27 pm

Dear Friends,

I spent a wonderful couple of hours this past weekend photographing this particular exhibit at the National Archaelogical Museum of Athens and have prepared a semi virtual tour and which is available at the following link: http://www.perseus.gr/Astro-Greek-Archa ... ythera.htm ...
Anthony Ayiomamitis
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time for///////////////

Post by ta152h0 » Tue Dec 05, 2006 6:24 pm

Time for " reverse engineering " ??????????????? 8)
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the 2000 year old genius

Post by kovil » Tue Dec 05, 2006 9:24 pm

Basic human intelligence is unchanged in 5000 years; we have better writing materials and knowledge storage facilities today, that's why our technology is higher.

They were just as brilliant then as now, just a lower level of tech; so it was one smart guy who made this instrument. Or are there more??
If this is a one shot deal, here is an 'Einstein' or 'Watt' .

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Re: the 2000 year old genius

Post by Andy Wade » Tue Dec 05, 2006 10:26 pm

kovil wrote:Basic human intelligence is unchanged in 5000 years; we have better writing materials and knowledge storage facilities today, that's why our technology is higher.

They were just as brilliant then as now, just a lower level of tech; so it was one smart guy who made this instrument. Or are there more??
If this is a one shot deal, here is an 'Einstein' or 'Watt' .
The thing about this object is that it can't have 'just appeared' in the world. There must have been simpler versions that preceded this complex piece. It cannot have been arrived at as a one off, and there must have been a process of development over a number of years.
The fact that nothing has been seen ( I assume) that pre-dates this is indeed a puzzle to me.
And yes, 'genius' is a spot on description.
Regards,
Andy.

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Re: the 2000 year old genius

Post by Galactic Groove » Tue Dec 05, 2006 11:15 pm

kovil wrote:Basic human intelligence is unchanged in 5000 years...
... They were just as brilliant then as now, just a lower level of tech; so it was one smart guy who made this instrument. Or are there more??...
hmmmm... sounds like you're not capable of giving enough credit where it's due :wink:
kovil wrote:... we have better writing materials and knowledge storage facilities today, that's why our technology is higher.
This is very far from the point of what a comparison is. If you are stating computers and hard drives are more advanced than scrolls and quills, you are correct.

Today's technology is the result of hundreds of thousands of minds across the globe working together for a common goal, sharing thoughts and opinions and findings. This is something that was impossible back then. You simply could not work with the rest of the world on something, you were limited to your immediate area that your particular race/culture inhabited.

Today's achievements can't match the level of sophistication it took to make this machine. What was the world's population back around 100BC? Not nearly as large as it is now obviously. So there weren't a lot of "masses" to work on this. Instead of hundreds of thousands of people, I'd guess you'd be able to get the help of around 10 that had enough knowledge if you were lucky!!! How capable do you think they were in getting the input from people across the globe to work on it? Not capable at all. So again they had a very small pool of people even able to work on this. So this is the work of a few extremely intelligent people of a very advanced culture. And it is mentioned that it is approximately 1000 years before we originally had thought humans possessed this technology. 1000 years ahead of the known technological achievements of humankind is an achievement unto its own. To be even comparable to the minds of today, we would have had to come across fusion technology around 1850.

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Post by iamlucky13 » Wed Dec 06, 2006 1:36 am

I would say there were probably quite a few, well educated minds through ancient history who could have created devices like this, given the motivation and resources. I agree it is very likely that others built similar, perhaps simpler devices. Archimedes was mentioned as having one (see the wikipedia article), as was another contemporary.

At it's core, it is simple gears, which represent mathematical ratios. What it really takes is a person with a different idea and some dedication. The math skills were definitely there at the time.

I wish I could remember his name now, but there was a Greek man who made his fame by building small automated puppet shows, powered by falling weights turning gears and causing cut-out figurines to do certain motions and move in and out of the view. One supposedly told the story of the Trojan War. I'll try to find more information about it tonight.
"Any man whose errors take ten years to correct is quite a man." ~J. Robert Oppenheimer (speaking about Albert Einstein)

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Post by Galactic Groove » Wed Dec 06, 2006 2:02 am

Perhaps you and kovil are right. Me and my bold assumptions that it would be the only one of it's kind at the time :P I guess it would be more likely to assume that it's simply natural progression, an advanced idea utilizing existing technology like you said.

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Post by BMAONE23 » Wed Dec 06, 2006 3:23 am

Here are a couple of good links discussing the "Automata". I believe this is what iamlucky13 was refering to
http://www.sagecraft.com/puppetry/defin ... pter1.html
http://www2.gsu.edu/~phltso/Berryman-comments.html

and a good link on the antikythera-mechanism
http://econ161.berkeley.edu/movable_typ ... 00891.html
http://www.math.sunysb.edu/~tony/whatsn ... kyth1.html

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Post by iamlucky13 » Wed Dec 06, 2006 4:34 am

I think that's the term I was looking for. Also, the person I was referring to was Heron (aka Hero) of Alexandria.

Diagrams and descriptions of many of Hero's works.
History Channel Bio

I can find mention of the theatre device, but not much more info. It reportedly played for 10 minutes, and he had figured out a sort of analog/digital hybrid logic system for controlling the action. If you all remember those children's pop-up books with pull tabs and such that made cut-out characters do simple motions, his theatre was like that on steroids, but it also could automatically change scenes. The History channel described as a box about the size of a TV on a stand.

He apparently also wrote extensively on mechanics. He's exactly the sort of person who might have attempted a similar device to the antikythera.

I'm impressed not only that they did calculate out the gear ratios of the antikythera precisely enough to impress casual observers, but also that they built a precision machine out of bronze with the limited tooling they would've had. A Swiss watchmaker probably would've been impressed.
"Any man whose errors take ten years to correct is quite a man." ~J. Robert Oppenheimer (speaking about Albert Einstein)

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Post by JohnD » Wed Dec 06, 2006 10:18 pm

Andy Wade said, "The thing about this object is that it can't have 'just appeared' in the world. There must have been simpler versions that preceded this complex piece. It cannot have been arrived at as a one off, and there must have been a process of development over a number of years. "

Why not? Clearly the mechanism demonstrates Intelligent Design. It is futile and unecessary to seek antecedents. It is so complex and advanced that it could not have been designed and built at the time that it was apparently lost at sea. It must have been made by an Original Creator, whose Purpose and Nature we can cannot know.

John

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this object

Post by ta152h0 » Wed Dec 06, 2006 11:25 pm

Was this object found on topside of the ship or in the cargo hold ?
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Post by Andy Wade » Thu Dec 07, 2006 5:34 pm

JohnD wrote:Andy Wade said, "The thing about this object is that it can't have 'just appeared' in the world. There must have been simpler versions that preceded this complex piece. It cannot have been arrived at as a one off, and there must have been a process of development over a number of years. "

Why not? Clearly the mechanism demonstrates Intelligent Design. It is futile and unecessary to seek antecedents. It is so complex and advanced that it could not have been designed and built at the time that it was apparently lost at sea. It must have been made by an Original Creator, whose Purpose and Nature we can cannot know.

John
:lol: Oh, very ethereal, and completely unprovable too. How convenient for you.
Well, you're entitled to your opinion I suppose.
I disagree with this 'intelligent design' nonsense as much as I disagree with faith. I have no faith in something I have no evidence for and am not about to discuss it on here either. Although if you could get God to ring me on my mobile phone, I'll be willing to talk about it with him in person (or is that persons?). I don't need to give you my mobile phone number do I? God will already know it ...won't he? :twisted:

And rest...

Back to the subject...
My first thought that it was from a different era and had been dropped off the side of another ship much later, and happened to land in the old wreck. It's a likely as any other explanation I reckon.
Except for all that old 'intelligent design' guff of course.
Regards,
Andy.

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Post by JohnD » Thu Dec 07, 2006 11:03 pm

You're right, Andy, irony is a dangerous form of humour, but one much loved by gods, I fear

And when you think about it, a god must have a sense of humour.
Sitting about for centuries, while all those little people make such a complete mess of their lives, don't even thank you and when they do it's by killing some unfortunate in Your Name. You wouldn't believe how ungrateful some of them are when they come in front of You. Does You good to have a laugh now and then.
Where are My thunderbolts? I don't make thunderbolts like I used to; modern rubbish materials, shoddy workmanship, had one go off nearly in My hand the other day. Think I'll plonk one right down on London - that'll be good for a laugh!
Or maybe that old alarm clock?

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Post by Galactic Groove » Fri Dec 08, 2006 6:07 am

JohnD, gods have no time or use for humour or irony. Irony is used by man and written in "stories" like those found in the Bible.
....... and... are you writing as if in the eyes of a god???? ouch

JohnD if you took the time to do a little research like I did simply from the comments that were given in response to my initial ideas and opinions that started this topic, you wouldn't assume god handed it down to some lucky sailor (omg i didn't capitalize his name! :o).

As much as i didn't want my idea rebuffed as if it were a "nothing" invention, after i had let it sink in a bit, iamlucky13's comments became obvious and more than logical. The car didn't happen over night and there were very many models before the Model T. They weren't cars, but their function was the exact same based on the technology. So god didn't just hand down a car to Henry Ford one night (oops, I did it again!), it was a natural progression of the technology by someone that had an idea and used current technology to realize that idea (or in Ford's case, he had to make the gasoline engine from scratch). But still, the inital idea came from steam engines, using the pressure to push open valves, move pistons like those found on a train, etc etc.

To go along with this, as mentioned by iamlucky13 again, Archimedes produced something similar to this device and he lived from 287 BC – 212 BC. That's 100 years prior to this device. That's a lot of time to work on and update and add to previous versions to come up with the level of sophistication shown in the Antikytherian one. Also a friend (of either his or of Cicero's, not sure) named Posidonius created one. There has also been another one found, so there are a total of 3 others of these orerry devices found that predate the Antikytherian one. And with regards to the knowledge of gears and metallurgy to create such a device at the time, the Automata puppet show was produced somewhere in the time frame of 400BC - 150 BC (unless I missed a specifically given date in BMAONE23's links)

I'd like to know what clues you have that make you think that it "Clearly demonstrates intelligent design." Simply because you can't fathom it isn't reason enough.

JohnD, I think you've done a great disservice to your religion. Comments such as, "It is futile and unecessary to seek antecedents," simply because you think god made it is absolutely ignorant. If we all thought like that, Earth would still be at the center of the universe, the world would still be flat, blah blah blah. Basically you've just shown to us all that you still hold the mentality of those ancient religious fanatics attemtping to hold back the scholars of the world.

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Post by JohnD » Fri Dec 08, 2006 10:59 am

GG, All,
Irony is not entirely absent from the Bible, there are some instances.
I cannot tell if they were provied by a god or not.
Job suffered mightily from the cruelty of Jehova, and lamented mightily too.
He was upbraded by his unsympathetic neighbours, who quoted the prophets and the holy law to him.
He answered saying," No doubt you are the people and wisdom will die with you."
True black irony there!

John

PS To remove all doubt, I have no religion.

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Post by JohnD » Fri Dec 08, 2006 11:12 am

All,
In contrition for having hijacked the thread, may I offer Archimedes' Screw for discussion? This is a much simpler mechanism than the Antikythyra, indeed it is difficult to see how this could have been lead up to by earlier, simpler devices.

Can anyone suggest an earlier, simpler device than the Screw?
Or was it some blinding flash of brilliance, from a man who by legend was prone to them - "Eureka!"?

By comparision, the Antikythyra HAS to be the product of iterative design, and it is a puzzle that we have no relic of the antecedents.
One suggestion, I think in a link quoted previously, is that Bronze was a valuable metal that was easy to reforge. Earlier attempts would have been less successful, and the metal would be melted down for something else, unlike religious or commemorative objects.

John (the not divine at all)

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Post by Galactic Groove » Fri Dec 08, 2006 4:49 pm

Hi JohnD,
I would think that possibly the idea for his Screw may have come from some earth digging tool. If anyone knows when the modern-day screw meant for construction was made, if it was around Archimedes time, then i would have to go along with that possibility too.

If Archimedes was a well traveled individual, he would have visited many places and seen many many ideas. To imagine him sitting at his study all his life and coming up with these ideas would be unrealistic. Since he was born in Sicily, studied with the Greeks in Alexandria, and traveled to Egypt, I'm sure he saw many things that helped him solve the problems that he did. In a writing by him called The Method he describes how he came across his inventions as being able to see the answer mechanically, which he later contrived and built devices with his knowledge of geometry and planes.

I've thought as well about any predecessors and have come up with the same hypothesis. But "less successful" i think should be replaced by the words "more simplistic." May I offer that possibly after so many wars and raids from other people that perhaps these devices weren't understood by the conquerors, all they saw was a useless piece of metal that could be melted down for a sword or armor or jewelry. Another possible reason for the lack of predecessors is that, depending on the cost of having one of these devices made, perhaps the creater simply had his own device melted down to create another. Another thought, perhaps he simply added on to the device. After getting the moon to orbit the Earth properly, you would not need to work on that aspect of the device again so you could move on, lets say, to Jupiter.

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Post by iamlucky13 » Fri Dec 08, 2006 7:21 pm

Galactic Groove wrote:As much as i didn't want my idea rebuffed as if it were a "nothing" invention, after i had let it sink in a bit, iamlucky13's comments became obvious and more than logical.
Well, I certainly don't mean to imply that it is a nothing invention. They certainly weren't common or we'd have found more of them. Furthermore, there was no reason for them to become common. Only educated men with access to skilled construction talent to help make such a device would know-how and have the resources to make one.

What I really intended was to answer kovil's question about whether or not there were more and to make a counter-argument to what I interpreted as a suggestion that these represented a lost understanding that wasn't rediscovered for 1500 years.

Rather, I think the antikythera is precisely typical of some of the highest technology and learning of the day, nothing more and nothing less. In just the same way, I would call the space shuttle precisely typical of the technology of our day; it's an engineering marvel, incorporating technologies such as fuel cells, advanced materials, electronics, and navigation. Likewise, the antikythera shows knowledge of precise metalworking, mechanics, geometry, and most definitely astronomy.

The antikythera was no doubt an evolution. Undoubtedly one thinker got the idea of tracing travels of the moon and sun mechanically and built the first. Others may have been intrigued upon hearing about it and tried their own, probably only knowing the basics of the previous renditions, and adding in their own details or trying their own mechanical arrangements.
"Any man whose errors take ten years to correct is quite a man." ~J. Robert Oppenheimer (speaking about Albert Einstein)

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I would also guess

Post by ta152h0 » Fri Dec 08, 2006 7:29 pm

it has some political power for the inventor. Anyone that possesses the power of prediction would have direct access to the emperor of the time and access to affect decisions. No reason to share this invention ( power ) by creating copies of it. :D
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Post by JohnD » Fri Dec 08, 2006 10:45 pm

13,
your example of the shuttle is appropriate. I read, and it seems more than likely, that unless the promise of funding and opportunity for NASA to go to the Moon again soon, like in the next ten years, most of those with the experience of the Apollos will be dead. An enormous storehouse of expertise, dead-ended. We might be able to manage with records and improved theory, but in those days records were volatile and easily lost.
This could easily have happened to the 'AKM master' and his team - they, their expertise and their records might even have been on that ship!

I wonder though about this "it tracks the movementss of the sun, moon etc. etc" All the contemporary theories of celestial movement were wrong. How could they model something that was so far from reality?

john

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Post by Dr. Skeptic » Fri Dec 08, 2006 11:31 pm

All the contemporary theories of celestial movement were wrong. How could they model something that was so far from reality?

Throughout history man has been right - for the wrong reasons. The ancients didn't try to explain the stellar movements, only predict them. I don't think this was for navigation (maybe not even science), astrology was very prevalent, it could have been the supercomputer of the day to guide the timing of royal weddings or when or when not to enter into battle.
Speculation ≠ Science

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Post by iamlucky13 » Sat Dec 09, 2006 12:21 am

My thoughts exactly. They wouldn't have been modelling the movements correctly, but probably still getting the right answers...or at least close enough to satisfy themselves.

Impressive as I find it, this may have been more of a showpiece than a true tool, or they may have used it to get in the ballpark, then made more precise calculations by hand.

To use Dr. Skeptic's example, the king asks when a good time to attack a rival city is, the astronomer whips out his handy-dandy antikythera, spins the crank a few times and says, "I think about 2 months, but let me study it further and get back to you in the morning with the day we should attack."
"Any man whose errors take ten years to correct is quite a man." ~J. Robert Oppenheimer (speaking about Albert Einstein)

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Post by ta152h0 » Sun Dec 10, 2006 9:10 pm

Dr. Skeptic wrote:
All the contemporary theories of celestial movement were wrong. How could they model something that was so far from reality?

Throughout history man has been right - for the wrong reasons. The ancients didn't try to explain the stellar movements, only predict them. I don't think this was for navigation (maybe not even science), astrology was very prevalent, it could have been the supercomputer of the day to guide the timing of royal weddings or when or when not to enter into battle.

So, to predict stellar movements, he/she had to know how fast to turn the knobs on this machine . fascinating ! :D
Wolf Kotenberg