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(Live Science)   The ancient Greek machine called the aintkythera mechanism has been re-created and explained   (livescience.com ) divider line
    More: Interesting  
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23024 clicks; posted to Main » on 30 Nov 2006 at 7:15 AM (9 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2006-11-30 08:30:04 AM  
TJL-

It is almost certain that Hero taught at the Musaeum which included the famous Library of Alexandria, because most of his writings appear as lecture notes for courses in mathematics, mechanics, physics and pneumatics.

-They weren't just a handful of tinkerers. The fact that advanced thinkers were teaching what would now be university courses implies a systematic approach to knowledge doesn't it?
Also, it's neat to think of kids falling aslepp in lecture halls 2000 years ago. Some things never channge...
 
2006-11-30 08:32:38 AM  
I hate the greeks they invented gayness.

/troll off
 
2006-11-30 08:33:33 AM  
This is cool and all...but do you think they are being a little too zealous in it's purpose?
 
2006-11-30 08:36:31 AM  
Prank Call of Cthulhu

I want to know what it SAYS.

"Don't forget to drink your Ovaltine"?



Thank you. Your evaluation is at least as accurate as the 'scientists' who are studying this object.
And your conclusion is a bit funnier.
 
2006-11-30 08:39:19 AM  
I don't believe that they would have developed into an Industrial society. The need for industry did not exist in ancient Greece.


1. Very cheap manual labor
2. No real intellectual exchange (Clay tablets don't travel well)
3. This was the start, and our industrial revolution was built upon the thousands of years of experience since the Greeks.

Also, while this device may have been amazing in its complexity, the calculations that the Greeks needed to perform were not the complex calculations that lead to our need to create modern complex computers.

Calculus was invented a scant 200 years (I may be off on this) before the Industrial revolution. Our 'math' wasn't even finished during the times of the Greeks. While someone from today's society can look back and say "That's so obvious" It wasn't as clear back in their time.
 
2006-11-30 08:39:29 AM  
Sloth-Man
Yeah, and we'd know alot more about how smart they really were if the library of Alexandria didn't burn down :(

It didn't just burn down. It was torched by hard-line religious conservatives who felt the knowledge it contained was heresy against their beliefs (and it had females working there instead of back in the kitchen where they belonged)

/Not even going to bother making the comparison
 
2006-11-30 08:44:03 AM  
Xerxes99

If only they had developed steam power further and not just used it as a toy... we would have colonized every star in the night sky by now...


Yep. We just need some steam powered spaceships to carry us away to the stars.
Damn you NASA, damn you all to hell!

;)
 
2006-11-30 08:44:18 AM  
2006-11-30 08:33:33 AM TechieZero

This is cool and all...but do you think they are being a little too zealous in it's purpose?


Well it could have just been a bunch of whirly gears for a child. The fact that its dials line up to exactly predict the positions of the planets and phases of the moon were just a coincidence.

;)


It was an amazing tool, designed for a single purpose. Unfortunately many people take this and try to guess at 'Wow, what would we have been like today if this didn't sink to the bottom of the sea?'

However, I'm certain that there were more devices like this, and that once we no longer had need for a mechanical device to predict the positions of the planets, no one saw fit to make a new one.


Think about it, once you have made this tool, just plot out the positions and phases in a book. Like a engineer's table of logarithms, you do the calculations once, and have no real need for the mechanism anymore because you can just look up your previous measurements.
 
2006-11-30 08:44:56 AM  

Same theme on BBC News (clickety-pops)

The delicate workings at the heart of a 2,000-year-old analogue computer have been revealed by scientists.
Analogue computer? WTF? No intarweb, no FARK?

Franco
I hate the greeks they invented gayness.

They just made it socially acceptable, teh BUTTSECKS!!1!
www.fritriac.de
 
2006-11-30 08:44:58 AM  
ThatDevGuy

I want to know what it SAYS.

It says "Stealing music is a crime. - RIAA*"

* RIAA - Recording Industry Association of Athens
 
2006-11-30 08:45:54 AM  
Sloth-Man Yeah, and we'd know alot more about how smart they really were if the library of Alexandria didn't burn down :(

Apparently not that smart with regard to fire protection...
 
2006-11-30 08:54:30 AM  
Awesome. I don't think I'd ever heard about this before.
 
2006-11-30 08:54:40 AM  
TheWizard
Shush now, you clearly don't know enough to be contributing. Yes, early greeks used clay tablets. However later on they used papyrus (knowledge obtained from the Egyptians) and parchments. Hence the FIRE at the library of alexandria was a big problem.

As for your comments about mathematics, yes you are wrong. More like 100 years b/w calculus and the industrial revolution. Principia was published in 1687, the industrial revolution started in the late 18th century. But these two things are not required for each other. You can invent the steam engine without calculus. Calculus would help you improve and fully utilize the steam engine, but the invention would not require calculus.

"Our math" isn't even finished now, so I'm not sure what you mean by that statement.
 
2006-11-30 08:58:29 AM  
Fritriac: Nope, this is comparable to Babbage's Difference Engine, though not at complex. Still very cool.
 
2006-11-30 08:59:23 AM  
It's really just an ancient Seagate HD that crashed. The ancient Greeks just threw it overboard.

/I get the sneaking suspicion that my Seagate HD wants to crash soon.
//only had it 1 year
 
2006-11-30 08:59:35 AM  
images.amazon.com

Chariots of the Gods man, chariots of the Gods.

I've been saying it for years.
 
2006-11-30 09:03:19 AM  
"
It didn't just burn down. It was torched by hard-line religious conservatives who felt the knowledge it contained was heresy against their beliefs (and it had females working there instead of back in the kitchen where they belonged)"

Rassilon, Where are you getting this? Historical sources disagree on much, but most seem to think the library burned more than once, and probably accidentally. (Papyrus and parchment being flammable and all.) By the time the last bits were razed most of the goodies had been carted off elsewhere. Aurelian and Umar both get a bad rap: Aurelian wasn't so much out to destroy the library as to carry the contents home for souvenirs. Umar didn't have much left to burn or pillage when he got there.

So yeah, Umar may or may not have destroyed the last vestiges of the library. But it had withered through neglect long before that. Between accidental fires and robbing it blind, there wasn't much left to purge when the muslims came.
 
2006-11-30 09:05:13 AM  
schmack: People in the ancient world were smarter than we realize.

I have a theory, which I call "The Theory of the Absence of Cable Television". Whenever a mouth-breathing moron tells me that the ancient civilizations couldn't have possibly have built X (say, the Pyramids), I mention that the ancient civilizations didn't have cable television to fill time. If you're bored enough, you start thinking up weird things to do, like build Pyramids. Which means you have to think up the engineering and mathematics you need to build Pyramids.

No aliens required. Just the equivalent of bored college students. Most of the competent adults in an ancient civilization would have been around the right age, too.
 
2006-11-30 09:08:35 AM  
I also agree with TJL. the scientific method is what was pushing us along. i also agree on the part about how even if the greeks continuied at their rate they still couldnt of made computers. no matter what programing language you choose it all gets compiled into binary. with out 0 binary is impossible.

i think if the greeks did keep advancing we would be more advanced in certian areas but you cant navigate the stars without a computer. while we would have cars becuase even though today they have simple PC's in them they dont need a PC to work it can be all mechenical as the plane can be.

While the Greeks where way ahead of their time. they still couldnt of made earth like we have it. the good and the bad.

/but whos to say how earth would be if the greeks continuied developing. the slightest thing can change a timeline.
//ignore spelling
///because i said so
 
2006-11-30 09:16:41 AM  
Meh, we already knew it modeled orbits, and we were also told it did subtraction, which this article seems to be missing.
 
2006-11-30 09:16:41 AM  
Sorry for the spelling, I started to type out antikythera in the headline, then got lazy and tried to copy and paste the name into the title of the link but that didn't work out for me, either. - mybad.

/Carry on.
//subby.
 
2006-11-30 09:16:52 AM  
Wargod18
Just because they hadn't invenvted 0 yet doesn't mean they wouldn't have eventually. To surmise they would have constructed all this other stuff without inventing 0 is pretty silly. For example, calculus could not arise without a clear understanding of zero. It is very difficult to condify the idea of an infinitesimal and approximation, without having the smallest of all things.

Our knowledge is built on the Greeks, Romans, Persians and many of the other ancient civilizations. To talk about them never being able to have it like us it ridiculous, because we are just them 2000 year later.

But this is all really hypothetical and kind of silly. We don't know exactly what would have happened, the growth and fall of empires is just too hard to predict.
 
2006-11-30 09:20:21 AM  
2006-11-30 08:54:40 AM jman11jman

Shush now, you clearly don't know enough to be contributing.

If you want someone to consider your statement. Opening with an incredibly condescending comment is the perfect technique.


Yes, early greeks used clay tablets. However later on they used papyrus (knowledge obtained from the Egyptians) and parchments. Hence the FIRE at the library of alexandria was a big problem.

No shiat.

How does that detract from my statement that it was more difficult to transfer information between intellectuals? The difficulty and expense of storing information in those times is precisely what made the fire at the library of Alexandria so devastating. The library was a marvel partially because it was so expensive to create the scrolls.

Had it not been so expensive and difficult to maintain, then there might have been multiple stores of information, which could have lessened the blow of the destruction of the library.



As for your comments about mathematics, yes you are wrong. More like 100 years b/w calculus and the industrial revolution. Principia was published in 1687, the industrial revolution started in the late 18th century. But these two things are not required for each other. You can invent the steam engine without calculus. Calculus would help you improve and fully utilize the steam engine, but the invention would not require calculus.


Again, no shiat. You latch onto a number which I clearly stated was incorrect. I didn't think someone would be so dense that I would have to provide exact dates and citations. You yourself stated that calculus would have made things easier. The point was, I said that calculus was invented a short time before the Industrial Revolution as an example that many of the tools that were used to usher in this period were not available to the Ancient Greeks.

So congratulations, you know the exact date that Sir Isaac Newton published Principia. That had nothing to do with my statement and I'm not sure why you decided to go out of your way to argue about it. Perhaps you should practice a bit more on your reading comprehension.

For Pete's sake, this was a 30 second post on Fark and you treat it like a farking dissertation? Consider the audience I'm addressing. Had I known you were reading, perhaps I should have considered the pompous math ass audience.
 
2006-11-30 09:20:41 AM  
Persepolis: It's a dildo right?

And my thunder was thusly stolen.
 
2006-11-30 09:24:24 AM  
Sounds like the things was damn near a clock. They were within spitting distance of figuring out longitude- after this, contact with far flung cultures and their tasty technology and knowledge would have been well within the realm of possibility.

What a shame.

/IIRC, it was less fundies than it was authoritarian greedheads who farked it up
 
2006-11-30 09:29:42 AM  
Wizard
You said it was hard for them to move clay tablets around. I countered it was not a problem, because the just had to move paper around. There was intellectual exchange back then (e.g. the idea of papyrus). You don't need computers and the internet to exchange ideas. Paper is enough, letters worked quite well up until the 70's. This was to counter your second claim: "No real intellectual exchange".

Many things were invented a short time before the industrial revolution, but that doesn't mean they were required or even important.

Your other post to Techiezero ain't so hot either by the way.

You claim a whole bunch of stuff and make gross exagerations. You got called on this, deal with it. 100 years != 200 years, and the greeks had more than clay tablets. Your only point with any validity is the first (about cheap labour). I don't know how valid this is, as I'm not very knowledgable about classical society.

Just because I can compose a logical arguement doesn't make me a pompous math person.
 
2006-11-30 09:32:20 AM  
Sloth-Man don't forget the burning of the books when Constantinople fell, amongst lotsa other good times.

Gortex and supposedly the Romans had a machine built by a Greek, maybe Archimedes, to accurately measure distances so they could put mile markers on their roads. My theory is that when an empire gets Big Enuff, it becomes a matter of preservation to stifle innovation along w/ any other "changes". I thought of it while hearing about the Chinese fleets that sailed around India (as well as other places, maybe even North America). The mindset shifts from "What's Out There" to "Good Enuff For GrandPaw" and the expansion stops. {Followed by the "Sod Off, I Got Mine" phase which usually procedes on into breaking up.}


TJL and, in a note of synchronicity, today's featured article on WikiPedia is "History of Erotic Depictions".
 
2006-11-30 09:34:05 AM  
I don't understand the "they didn't have zero" argument people make. How can you not have a concept of zero? Especially when you have a numbering system for everything else?
How many sheep do you own, George? 5.
And how many drachmas do you sell one for at market? 16.
How many dragons do you own, George? ??? I don't have any dragons!
There's your concept of zero!
Maybe it seems obvious to me because I already have a concept of zero, but it seems about as silly to me as someone not having a concept of "I shiat myself".
 
2006-11-30 09:39:28 AM  
I don't actually know, but having a "none" is a bit different from having a "zero". They may have even had a symbol for "none" in the accounting context too.
 
2006-11-30 09:42:55 AM  
Everytime I see Erik VonDaniken's book, my ass twitches.

img218.imageshack.us
Built by People

img300.imageshack.us
Built by People
 
2006-11-30 09:43:21 AM  
jman11jman: Shush now, you clearly don't know enough to be contributing.

Well it certainly sounds like you had a nice big cup of "pompous ass" this morning.
 
2006-11-30 09:43:38 AM  
Dr.Z
They had the concept of nothing, but they hadn't codified it mathematically yet. This is a logical step, that is actually not that easy to take. The idea of something representing nothing is the problem. People used to use blank spaces on the work surface and other things, that aren't very consistent or effective. There's a book by Kaplan: The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero that talks about the history of how this little guy emerged.

The reason that zero seems so natural to us highlights the effectiveness of modern education. Most of us just take zero for granted, but at some point in our long distant past someone had to show us this idea and help us figure it out. That person was your elementary (or maybe middle) school math teacher.
 
2006-11-30 09:44:15 AM  
Actually, people in the ancient world were no more or less intelligent than we are. Furthermore, people in the early Paleolithic were no more or less intelligent than we are.

Humans haven't evolved significantly in the last 100,000 years.

In many ways, we stand on the shoulders of giants. Humans still depend for their survival on food crops and animals domesticated in prehistory. Irrigation and civilization were invented before writing.

Contemporary humans look at helicopters and computers and chemistry and fancy themselves more intelligent than the persons who first harnessed fire, made stone tools, invented the wheel, fashioned the first boat, domesticated the horse, invented the concept of numbers, drew the first map, or discovered how to mix copper and tin to make bronze tools.

Well, that's nothing more than vanity. In fact, I'd say the early inventors and innovators were more intelligent than we are, having no precedents to draw upon.
 
2006-11-30 09:45:04 AM  
Hollywood Cole
That's a good point. It was a bit pompous. I should have said it better, like STFU.
 
2006-11-30 09:48:39 AM  
jman11jman: I should have said it better, like STFU.


Or maybe you could have said. "Well I don't entirely agree with you there Wiz."

Ohhhh wait this is FARK. There has to be at least one bastard in every thread.
 
2006-11-30 09:49:34 AM  
They also invented 100% sure birth control, teh buttsecks. Well, they probably didn't invent it but they perfected it.
 
2006-11-30 09:50:32 AM  
Mugato: Well, they probably didn't invent it but they perfected it.

They invented astroglide?
 
2006-11-30 09:50:43 AM  
canyoneer: discovered how to mix copper and tin to make bronze tools

As a guy who's worked with bronze and copper, I sometimes wondered what it was that made some dude in 5000 BC say, "Whoa, maybe we could melt these green rocks and make something useful." Then some other guy had to say, "Well, maybe if we dig up this hill over here, we can find more."

Same for iron, same for lead, same for silver, same for gold. Crazy shiat. I'd like to think I could have been that guy, but how probable is that?
 
2006-11-30 09:52:36 AM  
1000Monkeys: I always wondered what history would be like if the Greeks did successfully start the industrial revolution two millennia early.

My guess is that we would either have wiped ourselves out or we'd have flying cars by now.


Flying cars? Hell. We'd probably have transporters. And faster-than-light travel. Permanent colonies on the moon and Mars. Space travel would likely be cheap and commonplace. Then their civilization fell, and our technological development was basically put on hold for about a thousand years. Things didn't really start to pick up again until a couple centuries ago.
 
2006-11-30 09:53:48 AM  
Mugato

They also invented 100% sure birth control, teh buttsecks. Well, they probably didn't invent it but they perfected it.

Bullshiat. It looks to me like the best part of you ran down the crack of your mama's ass and ended up as a brown stain on the mattress.
img82.imageshack.us
 
2006-11-30 10:00:29 AM  
theorellior: As a guy who's worked with bronze and copper, I sometimes wondered what it was that made some dude in 5000 BC say, "Whoa, maybe we could melt these green rocks and make something useful." Then some other guy had to say, "Well, maybe if we dig up this hill over here, we can find more."

I think theorellior's cable television theory from upthread had something to do with that.
Picture a bunch of early-men stirring the ashes of last night's bonfire. It was a good on, reaaaly hot. They stood a rotted out log in the middle and once the pith burned through it made a crazy mad furnace. One of the fire rocks has kind of melted. Whoa! You can melt rocks? Let's do it again tonight... get some more rocks like this! Where'd you get this one? Up by the big river? Cool! Road trip! Bring along some of that funky smelling plant we put in Rogg's pipe last night!

/yeah, ancient cavemen were stoners, so what? Maybe that's how they came up with all their crazy ideas!
 
2006-11-30 10:00:45 AM  
tasty technology

Stay home, Christopher Columbus! The spices we have are fine!
 
2006-11-30 10:03:26 AM  
TJL - Although, don't consider building a time machine and giving the Greeks industrialization. Sure, some humans would be traversing the stars, but WE sure wouldn't. History would have been entirely different. Hell, even all of the modern nations, (except perhaps China) wouldn't even exist. Not a single person alive today would have even been born.

Was that really necessary?
 
2006-11-30 10:04:51 AM  
Dr.Zoidberg: Up by the big river? Cool! Road trip!

Back then, it was probably called a "path trip".
 
2006-11-30 10:05:35 AM  
Dr.Zoidberg: /yeah, ancient cavemen were stoners, so what? Maybe that's how they came up with all their crazy ideas!

Remember what I said about "bored college students"?
 
2006-11-30 10:06:26 AM  
There's no way humans could have invented this machine on their own. God must have inspired a holy man to do it.

/troll
//The concepts of trade, insurance, and sarcasm must have been a pain in the ass to get others to buy into them, at first.
 
2006-11-30 10:07:11 AM  
Spice Girls?
 
2006-11-30 10:08:50 AM  
theorellior

Yes, and think of the inspiration involved in the domestication of crops and animals. The persons responsible had to figure out selective breeding over many generations in the pursuit of desireable characteristics. No, our ancestors were at least as intelligent as we are.

One could also make the argument that modern industrial man is, on the average, less intelligent than his forbears. After all, we have the example of a few centuries of rationality under our belt since the Enlightenment, but the majority of Americans still believe in rank superstitions of various sorts (for example). We have the scientific method and the General Theory of Relativity and empirical data from outer space and advanced biology and engineering and so on, yet millions of Americans will sit and watch the 700 Club and trudge off to temples and mosques and churches every week to express their faith in a lot of savage baloney. For most people, nothing has sunk in at all. Pat Robertson doesn't even see the irony in the fact that his inane blatherings are conveyed via a medium made possible by a thought process which thoroughly discredits such inane blather.

Kind of humorous, really. Unfortunately, this truth about human nature also explains why things never get better. It's the Lowest Common Denominator, and it trumps everything else.
 
2006-11-30 10:09:04 AM  
jman11jman
you claim a whole bunch of stuff and make gross exagerations. You got called on this, deal with it. 100 years != 200 years

I'm sorry if my statement of:

Calculus was invented a scant 200 years (I may be off on this) before the Industrial revolution.

was a gross exaggeration.

Thats why I put in the caveat of "(I may be off on this)". You posted the correct date, thanks. Cause you know some of us don't have the exact date that a thesis was published or know the minute the industrial revolution started.

But now that I think about it...

The period of time covered by the Industrial Revolution varies with different historians. Eric Hobsbawm held that it 'broke out' in the 1780s and was not fully felt until the 1830s or 1840s, while T.S. Ashton held that it occurred roughly between 1760 and 1830 (in effect the reigns of George III, The Regency, and George IV).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industrial_Revolution
Yes it is wikipedia, but feel free to critique that if you wish, it isn't my article.

So depending on your view of when the Industrial Revolution began, the elapsed time from Newtons publication to the start of the Industrial Revolution varies from roughly 75 to 150 years.

So yes, my statement that 200 years (I could be wrong) was in fact wrong. I shall never again make such a grievous error on the Scientific Journal Fark.com again.
 
2006-11-30 10:09:52 AM  
Eh, it's easy to get carried away in fantasies. Personally I doubt that space travel will ever be affordable, useful, or commonplace. The efforts and distances involved are too great, finding a planet hospitable to human life is a tremendously Sisyphean challenge that we may never be up to. Because colonies on other worlds would likely be on barren wastelands, it's doubtful that they would ever be self-sufficient, and thus would be tethered to Earth so a "branching" effect would be difficult to produce, so far as creating a galactic empire is concerned. And for mining, if we have the technology to fly to Mars, dig up iron, haul it back here, and somehow get it to the surface in an appreciable quantity, we'd probably have the technology to dig it out of Earth's mantel for about a thousandth of the cost. Hell, we'd probably have portable fusion machines to create any substance we wanted from the elements in the air. So for materials, space seems unlikely. For expansion, space seems unlikely. For exploration, space seems unlikely.

Of course, 2000 years is a long time. Who am I to say?
 
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