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Ask a Scientist [topic: ancient science] Answered

Topic: The 2000-Year-Old Computer (and Other Achievements of Ancient Science)

We learn in school that the science of our ancestors included such endearing bunk as flat planets, geocentric solar systems, and the balancing of the body's four humors. (Even the pre-internet decades of my youth now seem to me like a dark, distant era of ignorance that I can't believe we all survived.) Did our ancient predecessors get anything right? Of course they did. Tonight, science historian Richard Carrier will discuss the nature and limitations of ancient science.While crucial contributions have come from many different cultures throughout history, Richard will talk about a handful of Graeco-Roman scientific and technological advances that might surprise you. Here's a teaser: we'll learn about the Antikythera mechanism, the oldest known computer discovered in a 2000-year-old shipwreck near Crete (pictured below). Cool.

ABOUT THE SERIES: Ask a Scientist is an informative, entertaining, casual science lecture series, held at a San Francisco cafe. Each event features a speaker on a current topic, a short presentation, and the opportunity to ask all those burning questions that have been keeping you up at night. No tests, grades, or pressure, just food, drinks, socializing, and conversation about the universe's most fascinating mysteries.

February 26, 2008
07:00 PM - 09:00 PM

Cost: Free

Location: Map
Axis Cafe
1201 8th Street (btw. 16th & Irwin)
San Francisco, CA 94107

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5 Replies

kelseymh (author)2008-12-12

New Scientist has a big review article on the Mechanism today (12 Dec 2008). I guess Michael Wright has constructed a new physical model based on the latest analysis.

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KentsOkay (author)2008-10-22

D'oh! Why's everything always in San Fran?

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kelseymh (author)KentsOkay2008-10-22

And why is everything always in the past? What we need is a good spacetime crumpler-upper so we can be where we want, when we want, after we've found out about it. Oh, wait, that's a TARDIS, isn't it?

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KentsOkay (author)kelseymh2008-10-23

Yah, but it's hard to figure where it is at any given point in time...

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kelseymh (author)2008-10-22

The following links may be of interest:

The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project

The Wikipedia article

Two recent Nature articles (31 July 2008 and 30 Nov 2006 on deciphering the text and reconstructing the gearing.

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