Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Olympics and the Antikythera mechanism

From National Geographic:
Though many of its functions remain mysterious, previous research found that the device tracked and displayed the date, a 19-year calendar, and the positions of the sun and moon.

The mechanism even predicted eclipses—though with limited accuracy—using an 18-year eclipse cycle, called the Saros cycle, that was known to Babylonian astronomers centuries before the mechanism was built.

Now members of an international collaboration called the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project have used high-resolution 3-D scans to examine "slices" of the mechanism's 82 fragments.

The scans allowed the team to read previously hidden text inscriptions that showed an unexpected feature: a dial for tracking the timing of the Panhellenic games.
I blogged about the Antikythera mechanism before. For many years it's purpose was unknown, but more modern technology has enable researchers to start figuring it out. The more they discover, the more fascinating it becomes.

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