Talk:Antikythera mechanism/Archive 4

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Attributes by de Solla Price for Intro

According Derek de Solla Price, who did the first modern technical investigation, it is "the most complex scientific object that has been preserved from antiquity." Price (1959). Still today there is no known object for any objection.

At first glance "it must have resembled a well-made 18th-century clock." Price: "Consisting of a box with dials on the outside and a very complex assembly of gear wheels mounted within, it must have resembled a well-made 18th-century clock." Price, D. de S. (1959). "An Ancient Greek Computer". Scientific American 200 (6): 60-67.

This may have caused the objection that it may be a later time work sunk there or a fraud. I think both citations should be mentioned in the intro to get the object in historical perspective. Price was Avalon Professor of the History of Science at Yale University and therefore qualified for such statements. -- Portolanero (talk) 12:26, 19 August 2013 (UTC)

Mentioned around the year 500

A device like the reconstructed Antikythera mechanism existed was known (1) in Italy around AD 500: "A machine has been made to exhibit the courses of the planets and the causes of eclipses." According a letter by Cassiodorus King Theodoric send it as gift to the Burgundians.

By the translator in 1886 - before the Antikythera find - it was called "perhaps something like a modern orrery": "It will be a great gain to us that the Burgundians should daily look upon something sent by us which will appear to them little short of miraculous. Exert yourself therefore, oh Boetius, to get this thing put in hand. You have thoroughly imbued yourself with Greek philosophy[246]. You have translated Pythagoras the musician, Ptolemy the astronomer, Nicomachus the arithmetician, Euclid the geometer, Plato the theologian, Aristotle the logician, and have given back the mechanician Archimedes to his own Sicilian countrymen (who now speak Latin). You know the whole science of Mathematics, and the marvels wrought thereby. A machine [perhaps something like a modern orrery] has been [Pg 170] made to exhibit the courses of the planets and the causes of eclipses. What a wonderful art is Mechanics! The mechanician, if we may say so, is almost Nature's comrade, opening her secrets, changing her manifestations, sporting with miracles, feigning so beautifully, that what we know to be an illusion is accepted by us as truth." "The Letters of Cassiodorus - Being A Condensed Translation Of The Variae Epistolae Of Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator", Translator Thomas Hodgkin, London 1886. BOOK I. 45. King Theodoric to Boetius, Vir Illustris and Patrician.

It is the third known such device located in Italy. But it is unlikely to be identical to one of those two mentioned by Cicero as located in Rome. The lifetime of such a bronze mechanism is limited to few centuries. So this is evidence for a tradition to build such devices still in Roman Imperial times. -- Portolanero (talk) 12:23, 19 August 2013 (UTC)

(1) The translation by Thomas Hodgkin seems in error regarding the actual presence of a device as a gift in 506. Certainly the machines were known. Either by use with astrologers like mentioned by Nonnus (see Mike Edmunds "Before & After the Antikythera Mechanism") or known from the book Cassiodorus mentioned above. It was sometime called the "Mechanica" and probably of 4th century origin but attributed to Archimedes. It existed in the Middle Age and Renaissance but is now lost. Probably Leonardo da Vinci had access to it. -- Portolanero (talk) 17:44, 5 October 2013 (UTC)

Documentaries and Popular Culture

There is a paragraph about this device being mentioned in the latest installment of the popular video game "Assassin's Creed". However the author of that section neglected to provide 1) a reference, and 2) the name of the particular installment (there are many). This needs to be corrected. (talk) 00:19, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Why would anybody waste a mechanical computer for planetarium purposes, rather than naval artillery fire control?

A strong argument could be made that "Antikythera clock" tech being useful for the Greeks and getting forgotten later on, is not a very realistic squence of events.

I mean, this kind of mechanical computer technology is higly useful for ballistic calculations and is actually not much different from the "artillery tables" used for fire control in WWI era battleships, allowing them to pound each other with large caliber shells, from up to a dozen miles away.

I would argue it is much more like an ephemeris rather than ballistic tables. One could perhaps use the same technology to build an analog ballistic computer, but that is not at all what this is. SkoreKeep (talk) 09:30, 21 May 2014 (UTC)

Considering makind's desire to find ever more innovative ways to cut thy neighbour's throat, why would any civilization allow an important tech to go to waste that could otherwise support a revolution in naval warfare waged with ranged weapons? Who cares about watching mini celestial bodies dance, when the mechanical computer allows vanquishing the other kingdom's battle fleet? (talk) 21:35, 28 September 2013 (UTC)

Good idea. The torsion catapults of classical time were more difficult to predict than modern guns. Their energy storage element was of biological origin. They used the best available and I heard it was human female hair. Today we still use it for hygrometers because it is sensitive to moister. By such hard to predict material and the rather short distance (< 500 m) I expect tables or graphs would do the calculation faster but with still sufficient accuracy. -- Portolanero (talk) 17:46, 5 October 2013 (UTC)
The Greeks of this time were under Roman control; they did not have the same drives for such tools as we do today. Drawing suchparallels is pretty faulty. SkoreKeep (talk) 09:30, 21 May 2014 (UTC)

Actually, ancient artillery controlled range through the torsion of the fiber bundle which gave the necessary energy. One of such controls has come to us, from the most unlikely source (the Samnites, who fought bravely - and won - the Romans in the IVth century b.C.), and is on display in the Chieti Museum. Its use was only recently recognised. Its stops are numbered by letters in the Samnite alphabet (used for numbers in the fashion of the Attic convension of numbering: A for 1, B for 2 and so on). The range was roughly proportional to the torsion, as can be shown by a little of mechanics: the ancient must have discovered the relation through practice rather than theory.

This is not an appropriate discussion. Talk pages aren't forums to discuss the whys and wherefores of the subject of the article. Unless you all have reliable sources, please try to find a web forum. Thanks. Dougweller (talk) 16:21, 8 October 2013 (UTC)