Wednesday, 17 May 2017

What is the Antikythera Mechanism? Google doodle honors ancient astronomical tool

Today’s Google doodle marking the 115th anniversary of the Antikythera Mechanism discovery is a nod to scientists, astronomers, archeologists and historians alike.

The tool was discovered in 1902 among items found from shipwreck cargo off the Greek island of Antikythera. First noticed by Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais, the bronze artifact looked like a gear or wheel.

“That corroded chunk of metal turned out to be part of the Antikythera Mechanism, an ancient analog astronomical computer,” writes the Google Doodle team on its blog.

According to Google, the Antikythera Mechanism originally was dated around 85 BC, but it is now believed to date earlier, to 150 BC. The tool was used to track planetary positions and forecast lunar and solar eclipses, as well as mapping and ship navigation.

From the Google Doodle blog:

A dial on the front combines zodiacal and solar calendars, while dials on the back capture celestial cycles. Computer models based on 3-D tomography have revealed more than 30 sophisticated gears, housed in a wooden and bronze case the size of a shoebox.

On display at the National Archaeological Museum of Greece, Google says the Antikythera Mechanism doodle, “… illustrates how a rusty remnant can open up a skyful of knowledge and inspiration.”

The doodle leads to a search for “what is the Antikythera mechanism?” and is being shared on many of Google’s international home pages.

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Author: Amy Gesenhues

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