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A Portable Cosmos: Revealing the Antikythera Mechanism, Scientific Wonder…
de Alexander Jones
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The guts of this book is actually less about the famous device itself and rather more about the calendrical systems the machine incorporated and how we know what we know about this artifact. As for why the Antiktyhera Mechanism feels like such an anomaly the author suggests that shifting Greek attitudes towards astronomy, which were always based less on observation than Babylon, might have something to do with this, as it seemed inappropriate to try and represent the presumed perfect functioning of the heavens with a mere construct of wood and metal. There is also the matter that if the real purpose of this device was as an instructional tool the question remains whether it was tied to a particular philosophical school and when that ended so did the demand for more of these devices, preempting a "clockwork" revolution in the classical world.
I would also note that for the reader who wants more on just how the mechanism works they should go to You Tube and use the search term "clickspring" for the treat of a master craftsman having produced an extensive series on making a working copy in brass.
Named for its discovery in an ancient shipwreck off the island of Antikythera (ancient Aegila) in 1900-1901, the Mechanism is unlike any other object recovered from an ancient context. Early investigators tried to relate it to other more familiar mechanical devices. Might it be an astrolabe? Or perhaps a planetarium? The turning point came in the late 1950s when the young physicist, Derek de Solla Price, recognised that the ‘wondrous device’ was a computer. But it is only in recent years that an international, multi-disciplinary research group (the aptly named Antikythera Mechanism Research Project or AMRP), with the latest research and scientific techniques at their disposal has been able to unravel the deeper mysteries of the device and to demonstrate its importance for calculating a variety of astronomical data. In this volume, Alexander Jones addresses the current state of knowledge regarding the Mechanism: its discovery, origins, workings, and offers his own plausible hypotheses regarding its purpose and meaning.
"The Antikythera Mechanism, now 82 small fragments of corroded bronze, was an ancient Greek machine simulating the cosmos as the Greeks understood it. Reflecting the most recent researches, A Portable Cosmos presents it as a gateway to Greek astronomy and technology and their place in Greco-Roman society and thought"-- "From the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Terracotta Army, ancient artifacts have long fascinated the modern world. However, the importance of some discoveries is not always immediately understood. This was the case in 1901 when sponge divers retrieved a lump of corroded bronze from a shipwreck at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea near the Greek island of Antikythera. Little did the divers know they had found the oldest known analog computer in the world, an astonishing device that once simulated the motions of the stars and planets as they were understood by ancient Greek astronomers. Its remains now consist of 82 fragments, many of them containing gears and plates engraved with Greek words, that scientists and scholars have pieced back together through painstaking inspection and deduction, aided by radiographic tools and surface imaging. More than a century after its discovery, many of the secrets locked in this mysterious device can now be revealed. In addition to chronicling the unlikely discovery of the Antikythera Mechanism, author Alexander Jones takes readers through a discussion of how the device worked, how and for what purpose it was created, and why it was on a ship that wrecked off the Greek coast around 60 BC. What the Mechanism has uncovered about Greco-Roman astronomy and scientific technology, and their place in Greek society, is truly amazing. The mechanical know-how that it embodied was more advanced than anything the Greeks were previously thought capable of, but the most recent research has revealed that its displays were designed so that an educated layman could understand the behavior of astronomical phenomena, and how intertwined they were with one's natural and social environment. It was at once a masterpiece of machinery as well as one of the first portable teaching devices. Written by a world-renowned expert on the Mechanism, A Portable Cosmos will fascinate all readers interested in ancient history, archaeology, and the history of science"--
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Classificació Decimal de Dewey (DDC)681.1 — Technology and Application of Knowledge Manufacture of products for specific uses Precision instruments and other devices Instruments for measuring time, counting and calculating machines and instruments
LCC (Clas. Bibl. Congrés EUA)
Fes-te Autor del LibraryThing.
The conglomerate of corroded and broken bronze pieces, eventually known as the Antikythera Mechanism, were salvaged from a shipwreck in the early 1900s. Initially, the fragments were studied without any certainty of what they were. By the end of that century it was confirmed that the metal device with its gears and advanced clockwork mecahnism was some kind of analog computer. It was eventually determined that the mechanism predicted phases of the moon, planetary positions and even eclipses with great precision.
A Portable Cosmos provides a description of the discovery of the Antikythera mechanism, an extensive desciption of the device itself and how it worked, as well as the ancient astronomy behind it. Jones explores the mystery of the Antikythera mechanism in a no nonsense fashion and includes relevant diagrams and photographs where necessary. The author does a thorough job of presenting numerous related topics such as the history of astronomy and astrology, calendrics and the mechanics of eclipses, as well as any ancient records of such a mechanism. Cicero wrote about a planetarium that Archimedes used as a teaching tool, which may have been similar to the Antikythera mechanism. The book is devided into thematic chapters, so if the technical aspects are too detailed, the reader can skip these chapters without missing out too much. This book is scholarly and rather technical, but is none the less absorbing and very interesting.