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A Lego Replica of the Antikythera Mechanism

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the hard-to-get-enough-antikythera dept.

Space 74

vbraga writes "The Antikythera Mechanism is the oldest known scientific computer, built in Greece at around 100 BCE. Lost for 2000 years, it was recovered from a shipwreck in 1901. But not until a century later was its purpose understood: an astronomical clock that determines the positions of celestial bodies with extraordinary precision. In 2010, a fully-functional replica out of Lego (YouTube video) was built."

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I must have this!! (3, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041360)

I need a parts list and build instructions. Anyone know if they did this? All we got was a Youtube video...

Re:I must have this!! (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041422)

That was the first thing I thought as well.... Want to build one myself!

Re:I must have this!! (0)

zonker (1158) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041498)

Sorry, the Spartans DRMd the design. You'll have to file a formal request for those plans.

Re:I must have this!! (5, Informative)

JaZz0r (612364) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041510)

Andrew Carol is the designer. His website has more information - http://acarol.woz.org/antikythera_mechanism.html [woz.org] If the site is down, try the Google cache [googleusercontent.com]

Re:I must have this!! (5, Informative)

TheMidget (512188) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041982)

.... which also shows that it is not a replica of the Antikhera mechanism. It achieves the same purpose (predicting eclipses), but using a different mechanism, because they needed to work with gear ratios achievable with available Lego pieces, and thus needed to add differentials, whereas the Greeks had no such needs (making their own gears, so being able to directly use whatever ratio was needed). Moreover, display differences (4-wind spirals versus 5) introduced more differences in the multiplicative constants, and thus the mechanism:

Because it would be difficult to fit the information for 223 lunar months in a single rotation of a dial, the original machine used a 5 wind spiral to encode the information. This made more space available for the markings required for the eclipse information.

My version of the machine uses a 4 wind spiral. This provides the same benefit as a 5 wind spiral but matches the Full Moon Cycle which may permit future enhancements to accuracy.

This change results in the formula:

Saros4 = Y * 4 * 235 / (223 * 19)

I decided to not use the Corinthian calendar and instead use the standard Gregorian civil calendar in a four wind spiral representing the four year leap year cycle.

Noting that 235 is 5 * 47 and 254 is 2 * 127, the important constants for the construction are:

4, 5, 19, 47, 127, and 223.

The readily available high quality LEGO gear ratios are combinations of 1, 3, and 5. With some challenge 4 is available. With these combinations we can get to gear ratios which are multiplicative combinations of these values. The easy ratios we can get to include: 1, 3, 4, 5, 9, 12, 15, 20, 25, 27, etc.

Ratios of 19, 47, 127, and 223 are impossible to achieve with simple gear ratios because they are prime numbers. We have to look beyond simple gears to differentials.

Re:I must have this!! (3, Insightful)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042366)

It would be nice if I walked into a toy store and saw a Lego set with this on the front of the box instead of a Star Wars ship.

Re:I must have this!! (3, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35043940)

It would be nice if I walked into a toy store and saw a Lego set with this on the front of the box instead of a Star Wars ship.

It doesn't have to be mutually-exclusive: A Millenium Falcon can be made to predict eclipses. Of course you need a Wookiee to bang on it when it jams.

Re:I must have this!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35046416)

Contact Apple, it was an engineer at Apple.

So... (1)

KuRa_Scvls (932317) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041384)

If I find a bug in this, I can hack any computer ever released in History?

Re:So... (4, Funny)

neokushan (932374) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041508)

No, you idiot, that's obviously not how it works. If you find a bug in this, you cause the entire celestial system to collapse in on itself, killing us all!

Re:So... (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042534)

If I find a bug in this, I can hack any computer ever released in History?

No, it means you need to use these [killsbugsdead.com] in your parents basement.

See "The Making of" too (4, Interesting)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041386)

Not to be missed is the time lapse video [youtube.com] of the process of creating the video which was as fascinating as the model itself.

Re:See "The Making of" too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042608)

awesome plumber's crack at 1:10, by the way

Next step... (0)

fezick (722155) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041412)

Now I just need to hack this into my aurdino and my wrt54g.

As opposed to (1)

Aerynvala (1109505) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041414)

non-scientific computers? So is there an even earlier computer that was in some way un-scientific?

Re:As opposed to (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041448)

non-scientific computers? So is there an even earlier computer that was in some way un-scientific?

Sure. The one in the human head.

Re:As opposed to (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041454)

The computers they built to play Farmville were probably unscientific.

Re:As opposed to (3, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041698)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Gold_Hat [wikipedia.org] ~ bronze age pda (personal duration assistant?) meets lunisolar calendar meets bling sun cult headdress?

Re:As opposed to (1)

Aerynvala (1109505) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041716)

that's quite neat!

As opposed to abacus (2)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041912)

is there an even earlier computer that was in some way un-scientific?

Certainly, the abacus is much older and was used for business, as opposed to scientific, calculations.

Re:As opposed to abacus (1)

Aerynvala (1109505) | more than 3 years ago | (#35044470)

I didn't realize the abacus could be defined as a computer. A calculator, sure.

Re:As opposed to abacus (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#35044818)

The distinction between the two is artificial at best.

Re:As opposed to abacus (1)

coolmadsi (823103) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054728)

The distinction between the two is artificial at best.

Indeed. I think the term 'computer' originally meant "someone who computes" and there were rooms of people doing mathmatical calculations.

Re:As opposed to abacus (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064240)

Yep, some of the ww2 code cracking was done that way. Office after office with ladies doing sheet after sheet of calculations by hand (or aided by mechanical calculators).

2 Months old (0)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041430)

The article was published over 2 months ago and it was well publicized then. Why is it showing up on /. now?

Re:2 Months old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35041456)

The pony lost a shoe

Re:2 Months old (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041462)

This is the second run in case you missed it the first time two months ago.

Re:2 Months old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35041504)

The article was published over 2 months ago and it was well publicized then. Why is it showing up on /. now?

I asked the same - how is this new? Because /. is becoming "just another ordinary blog". I've read it for years. Now I don't even think I want to register to make a post here.

Re:2 Months old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042532)

timothy just read about it on digg.

Re:2 Months old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042860)

The article was published over 2 months ago and it was well publicized then. Why is it showing up on /. now?

Whatever. This stuff is most interesting and inspiring. Apart from this thread the comments are interesting and/or funny. Thats what I look for in /..

I, Anonymous Coward, prefer that over knowing which CEO farted in whatever fishtank or sandbox half an hour ago.

Re:2 Months old (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35046262)

To the idiot who moderated this offtopic, try again. The comment is exactly on topic.

my scientific observation (4, Interesting)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041460)

"A device is not truly understood until its function can be duplicated by Legos."
- Tumbleweed's Observation

Re:my scientific observation (2, Funny)

jcr (53032) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041540)

I think I understand how an oxy-acetylene torch works, but I don't think I could duplicate its function with legos...

-jcr

Re:my scientific observation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35041546)

Challenge accepted!

Re:my scientific observation (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35041986)

I think I understand how an oxy-acetylene torch works, but I don't think I could duplicate its function with legos...

Well, you can duplicate its function with bacon [popsci.com] . That also counts.

Re:my scientific observation (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042388)

There is a pneumatic set. I don't recommend it, but you could build an oxy-acetylene torch using the pressure vessel, tubes, connectors, and valves.

Re:my scientific observation (1)

Xyrus (755017) | more than 3 years ago | (#35043588)

"A device that cannot be replicated by legos is not worth understanding."

Re:my scientific observation (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#35043838)

"A device that cannot be replicated by legos is not worth understanding."

Excellent. And now I think we can get a nice research grant.

More Information (3, Interesting)

breser (16790) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041554)

Built by Andrew Carol who is an engineer for Apple.
He had a website about his building complex lego machines at: http://acarol.woz.org/ [woz.org]
And specifically information about this one at: http://acarol.woz.org/antikythera_mechanism.html [woz.org]

Unfortunately, the site seems to be down but Google still has a good cache:
http://google.com/search?q=cache:acarol.woz.org/antikythera_mechanism.html [google.com]
http://google.com/search?q=cache:acarol.woz.org/acarol.woz.org [google.com]

Re:More Information (1)

intellitech (1912116) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041874)

Unfortunately, the site seems to be down but Google still has a good cache

Ahh, yes. The slashdot front page effect. Funny how that works.

Re:More Information (2)

madmayr (1969930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042236)

Ahh, yes. The slashdot front page effect. Funny how that works.

maybe we should build a slashdot-effect-machine out of LEGO

Re:More Information (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35043866)

Built by Andrew Carol who is an engineer for Apple.

Steve Jobs is going to purchase Lego Inc. and shorten the name to Ego.

Re:More Information (1)

AngryDill (740460) | more than 3 years ago | (#35047234)

No, he'll probably replace the "L" with an "i"... giving the world the iEgo.

-a.d.-

Obvious next step (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35041556)

1,000,000 points go to the first person to replicate it in Minecraft.

Re:Obvious next step (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35059880)

Are there gears in Minecraft now?

Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35041558)

That particular video is from last year and it was actually made about 6 years ago.

2012 (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35041624)

Maybe the original device was built by ancient aliens. Does the lego model tell us anything interesting about 2012?

Re:2012 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35044508)

The ancient Maya solution its nice also (i just founded here reading previous news of this artifact) no aliens required ;-p

http://hardware.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=208132&cid=16971732

Its amazing how ancient civilizations, had the creativity to develop custom numerical systems, that aproximated complex natural systems, with an accuracy that was surpassed only in the last centuries by our occidental culture

For example the predictive maya table of Solar and Lunar Eclipses (http://tzolkinhaab.googlepages.com/Tabla_Eclipses _Mayas.pdf) that its totally integrated with his numerical astronomical time system...

Even more wonderfull, its the simplicity how were defined the time units from the visible planets trought (in equivalent modern concepts) sampling from a (clock signal) basic serie derived of the combination of two counting numeric systems (base 13 and base 20)

From the pdf, it looks like the theory i first saw in a book called "Los libros del tiempo" (buyed in the Monte Albán, Oaxaca bookstore) wich proposes that the mesoamerican calendar was based in numerical relations, derived from the observation of the visible planets and through the analisis of their astronomic periods

The mayas to designate a day used 20 names, counted with a numeric system base 13 (from 1 to 13), grouped in 5 days "weeks", and 20 days "months", to form 260 unique combinations like designations for days (number:name) in a repetitive calendar we call "tzolkin" divided in 65 days "seasons" (of course i am making a simil, werent called like that) Examples of the names are: Imix, Ik, Akbal, Kan, Chicchan, Cimi, Manik, Lamat, Muluc, Oc, Chuen, Eb, Ben, Ix, Men, Cib, Caban, Etznab, Cauac, Ahau. An example of a tzolkin date could be "1 Imix"

The list of names had intercalated orientation (orient, nort, ponient, sout) so every "week" (5 days) started and ended with the same orientation... and every of the 260 designations of days informs elapsed days and orientation. They also divided the calendar in periods of 52 days (unique combinations of 13 numbers with 4 orientations)

This system its then based on the relation of two sets: the base 13 numbers and the 20 names. The consecutive asociation was done trought simple counting, making pairs... there were not needed any operations with positional notation.

All this counts (asociations) are cyclic... repetitive, but not identical because every repetition starts at a diferent point in the cycle. I think of them, like time units (for example [day:orientation] to name a "week") The name of the repetition its given by is starting day (for example "week" 1-nort) The relation of two sets with a difference in cardinality of 1 its very common in the maya "time units" (for example 5 days:4 orientations) and its called "movement efect" because the maya didnt have a word for "time", to talk about the elapsing of time they used words related to movement

The maya also used a calendar of 365 days we call haab (divided in 73 "weeks" of 5 days or 18 "months" of 20 days plus 1 week... of bad luck) The haab is an alternate form of the tzolkin that relates (trought consecutive asociation) the number of day (from 0 to 19) and name of the month. Examples of the names of the month are: Pop, Uo, Zip, Zotz, Tzec, Xul, Yaxkin, Mol, Chen, Yax, Zac, Ceb, Mac, Kankin, Muan... An example of a haab date could be "4 Ahau - 18 Pop". Therefore, the day 0 Pop was the maya new year, and the haab date (for example "1 Imix - 0 Pop") designed the name of the year. The tzolkin-haab dates gave the mayas 94,900 unique combinations (of 260 tzolkin dates with 365 days of haab months) to name his days.

Here comes the really interesting part... To measure longer periods of time, the maya keeped lists of dates "sampled" from the tzolkin-haab succession of days at some fixed interval. Doing a mathematical analysis of the numeric properties of this calendaric system, was found that some astronomical intervals produced lists of "sampled" dates sorted (as a whole or in part) in ascending, descending order or with a fixed marker. The astronomical intervals where aproximated because the mayas used only whole numbers.

For example here are some lists of "sampled" dates at fixed intervals (using for simplicity 1Imix-0Pop as origin, not the historical 4Ahau-8Cumhu)
365 days : 1Imix-0Pop, 2Cimi-0Pop, 3Chuen-0Pop, 4Cib-0Pop, 5Imix-0Pop, 6Cimi-0Pop, 7Chuen-0Pop, 8Cib-0Pop...
                                            Here, obviously se fixed marker its the "0 Pop" or new year day
584 days : 13Chicchan, 12Muluc, 11Ben, 10Caban, 9Imix, 8Chicchan, 7Muluc, 6Ben, 5Caban, 4Imix, 3Chichan...
                                            Aproximated Venus sinodic revolution
116 days : 13Caban, 12Ben, 11Muluc, 10Chicchan, 9Imix, 8Caban, 7Ben, 6Muluc, 5Chicchan, 4Imix, 3Caban...
                                            Aproximated Mercury sinodic revolution
378 days : 2Cauac, 3Caban, 4Men, 5Ben, 6Chuen, 7Muluc, 8Manik, 9Chicchan, 10Akbal, 11Imix, 12Cauac...
                                            Aproximated Saturn orbital sinodic period
780 days : 1Imix-10Zip, 1Imix-0Xul, 1Imix-10Mol, 1Imix-0Zac, 1Imix-10Mac, 1Imix-0Pax...
                                            Aproximated maximun Mars oposition to Sun
399 days : 10Ahau, 6Cahuac, 2Etznab, 11Caban, 7Cib, 3Men, 12Ix, 8Ben, 4Eb, 13Chuen, 9Oc, 5Muluc...
                                            Aproximated maximun Jupiter oposition to Sun (this succession its ordered in the names)

The mayas used what now we call "astronomical" days (that start/end on midday) in order to keep all the astronomic observations of one night on the same date. Divided the sky in sections, and for the record of some visible planet, used like reference point the presence of close deep space objects and changed sections and objects over time.

Re:2012 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35044618)

have that book (the 2d edition, buyed in Chiapas 3 years hago) "The books of time - Astronomic relations of the mesoamerican calendars". After seeing your post i did a more detailed recount of the points you mentioned

The Tzolkin its ciclic, after the last combination (260 = 13:Ahau) the count continues with the first one (1 = 1:Imix) In the Aztek calendar this ciclic nature is related to the circular movement, on it the circle of the days divide the 360 in 20 arcs of 18 giving potitional meaning to the names (its not the observer who rotates, but what its observed like consecutive names for a fixed point (or points) of view of a perimetral part of a
rotational movement).

The Tzolking was divided in 13 "uinal"s or groups of 20 days (one group by every repetition of the names of the days) Every uinal whas divided in 4 "qintana"s or groups of 5 days. Every day of the qintana was dedicated to one of the 4 cardinal points (orient, nort, ponient, sout) to honor the "Bacab"s (Canzienal, Zaczini, Hozanek, Hobnil). This way, every of the 20 names of the days also designated one cardinal point and one number of day in the qintana (for example Lamat/rabbit = 3rt day of the qintana, 8th name of the uinal, its dedicated to the sout) This part i am not quite sure to understand the qintana was named by her 5th day?

The Tzolkin was also divided in 4 "pitaos" of 65 days each one, and every 65 days were divided in 5 "cocij" of 13 days; the periods of both where named by his first date (for the pitaos 1:Imix, 1:Cimi, 1:Chuen, 1:Ahau in other words orient, nort, ponient, sout all in the 1st day of the qintana)

The Tzolkin was also divided in 5 groups of 52 days each one named by his first date (1:Imix, 1:Ben, 1:Chicchan, 1:Ollin, 1:Muluc in other words 1st, 2th, 3th, 4ht, 5th days of the qintana all to the orient), and every group of 52 days were divided in 4 groups of 13 days, each one dedicated to one of the 4 cardinal points. In some Zapotec calendar (from Lachixila) betwen each of the 4 groups of 13 days were anotated 3 "flags" (Yoolleo, Yooyebaa, Yoolleo -again-, Yoocabila -in the same position that the markers that are in the aztek calendar-) In this Zapotec calendars also were another 4 "flags" that group 52 days (like alternate start/end points of the 52 cicle) anotated in the 6th day of each consecutive group of 13 days (Birogtiyoleoceagcayebaa, Bererogtiyooyebacedaleo, Birogtiyooleoceacabila, Berojtiyoocabilacedaleo)

If one writes down series of days (from the tzolking) every fixed number of days "ciclicly", would form a list of dates that would not be composed by the consecutive asociation of the elements of two ordered sets (like the tzolking) but by "sampling" from a generator list (the table of the 260 dates composed by asociation that form the Tzolkin)

    One would quickly notice that when used for "ciclic sampling" some periods of days would generate a list with the prefix number or the name of the day ordered in ascending or descending order. (more on this after talking of the Haab)

The Haab its not another unrelated calendar, but a numerated (from 0 to 19) day of uinal, postfixed with a name (uinal names: Pop, Uo, Zip, Zotz, Tzec, Xul, Yaxkin, Mol, Chen, Yax, Zac, Ceh, Mac, Kankin, Muan, Pax, Kayab, Cumhu; plus 1 named qintana: Uayeb). 1 Haab = 365 days = 73 qintana (of 5 days) = 1 qintana + 18 uinal (of 20 days) Remember qintana and uinal were Tzolkin "units" in other words the days of the Haab were "computated" by the Tzolking

An asociation of the Tzolking date with the Haab date could be called Tzolkin-Haab (for example 4 Ahau:18 Pop) this its done by composing the elements trought the consecutive asociation of the ordered elements of the two sets. This count will repeat itsef after 52 years (18,980 days or variations of the combination of the 260 Tzolking dates with the 365 Haab dates, that form all the 949 unique names of 20 days (uinal) in other words its a "weel of uinal")

When something worth to remember happens, one could write down the date of the event and build a list of the ocurrences for later use. The Tzolking repeats its dates every 260 days but the Tzolkin-Haab combination could be used to remember dates in longer periods of time

If we do "ciclic sampling" from the Tzolkin-Haab every 365 days starting in a date with the Haab part equal to "0 Pop" (day 0 of Pop -first uinal of the Haab-) we would get a list of the new years. As the Haab part will allways be the same we could omit it.

The "movement efect" (named after the believe that the mayas thinked in terms of movement not having our concept of "time") result from the ciclic asociation of one set of values (related to days) with another set of values (related to spacial orientation) where the number of elements of one set is bigger or smaller than (the number of elements of) the other set by one, this produces an "slip" that permits to distinguis several repetitions of the same cicle (for example: 5 days related with 4 cardinal points produce the named qintana list 1-Orient, 1-Nort, 1-Ponient, 1-Sout) lots of Maya lists formed by "ciclic sampling" have this "slip". For example:
* 7 cicles of 52 days = 364 days + 1 "movement" = solar year
* 9 cicles of 13 days = 117 days - 1 "movement" = sinodic
        revolution of Mercury
* 9 cicles of 65 days = 585 days - 1 "movement" = sinodic
        revolution of Venus
* 20 cicles of 20 days = 400 days - 1 "movement" = sinodic
        revolution of Jupiter
* 29 cicles of 13 days = 377 days + 1 "movement" = sinodic
        revolution of Saturn
* 3 cicles of 260 days = 780 days + 1 "movement" = sinodic
        revolution of Mars

As you mention, this only briefly touch the first two chapters of the book, and in my opinion the astronomic naked eye observation techniques are also worth to mention, but hard to explain not using diagrams

Antikythera Reconstruction ? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35041664)

This has as much to do with the Antikythera mechanism as a software simulation. The mechanism has no differential gears, which are used on this lego construct because its creator played with them during his experiments with Babbage's Difference Engine. The beauty of the Antikythera machine lies in its pin-and-slot mechanism for modelling epicyclic trajectories which are of course nowhere to be found in this "reconstruction".

Re:Antikythera Reconstruction ? (1)

TheMidget (512188) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041992)

This has as much to do with the Antikythera mechanism as a software simulation. The mechanism has no differential gears, which are used on this lego construct because its creator played with them during his experiments with Babbage's Difference Engine.

Nope, the main reason for using differential gears is that with normal Lego gear pieces only certain ratios are achievable... which unfortunately do not include those needed by the Antikythera mechanism. So they had to obtain those by averaging two obtainable rations. And, in order to perform this "averaging" you need differential gears.

So this is a mechanism achieving the same purpose as Antikythera, but implemented using a completely different way due to different constraints.

See Building complex machines using lego pieces [woz.org] , and then scroll to "The Practical Considerations" (hey, never heard of an <a name=""> tag?)

NOT a replica (3, Informative)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041740)

it's an implementation of the same math that that the Antikythera mechanism does but it's done in a completely different fashion.

Woz explains the device on his own page as well as the math behind it: http://acarol.woz.org/antikythera_mechanism.html [woz.org]
There is also an article about his LEGO device: http://www.fastcodesign.com/1662831/how-one-engineer-redesigned-an-ancient-greek-mechanical-computer-out-of-legos [fastcodesign.com]

more information about the Antikythera mechanism can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antikythera_mechanism [wikipedia.org]

Re:NOT a replica (1)

thestuckmud (955767) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042250)

It implements some of the same math, but misses some features of the original. For example, I don't see the pin and slot drive used to approximate the varying angular velocity of the moon due to its elliptic orbit. Nor the spherical phase of the moon display on the front dial.

More importantly, we can only speculate about features that have been lost to history. Estimates of the gear count range from 30 to 70. No one today known for sure.

Still, it is an impressive bit of lego work!

Re:NOT a replica (1)

mikael (484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042634)

HP Labs managed to recover the instruction manual that was written on the side of the machine, so the archaeologists are more or
less certain they know the purpose of each internal gear, as well as the dials and indicators.

High resolution image [hp.com]

Fascinating to know that someone was designing interactive user interface 2000 years ago...

Re:NOT a replica (1)

thestuckmud (955767) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042764)

See the most recent Antikythera mechanism paper [Nature V468 P496, 25 Nov 2010] for proof that our knowledge of the mechanism is incomplete. For example: "Evans’s hypothesis forces a rethink of other parts of the mechanism, too. Previously, scholars assumed that the positions of the Sun, Moon and planets were all displayed around the same zodiac scale. But if the zodiac scale had been tweaked to accommodate the varying speed of the Sun, it would no longer be accurate for showing the positions of the other bodies."

Note that the gearing for any planet display is missing from the fragments of the mechanism. Even if we had instructions about these presumed dials (which we do not), the actual gearing is still a matter of speculation, not certainty.

Re:NOT a replica (1)

loshwomp (468955) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042876)

HP Labs managed to recover the instruction manual that was written on the side of the machine

I didn't see a translation anywhere, but I'm pretty sure it says "replace toner cartridge now".

Ahh LEGO... (0)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041776)

...is there anything you can't build?

Re:Ahh LEGO... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35041880)

You may have problems recreating things which runs...

  • hot
  • under high pressure
  • under low pressure
  • in radioactive conditions (like nuclear reactors)
  • with high wing load (no flying airplanes for You)

Anything else may be done, I've seen a full working WC build out of Lego.

Re:Ahh LEGO... (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042566)

I think high loads in general would be out. I don't think it would be possible for instance to have a full size model of the golden gate bridge and expect it to stay up.

If you tried to make a solid sphere a light year across out of legos I think it would collapse into a black hole. (And the galaxies financial system would collapse trying to pay for it.)

Re:Ahh LEGO... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35043812)

A Sybian? No, wait. That's been done.

That can't be. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042174)

I've always been told that Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage invented the first scientific computer, about 150 years ago?

Re:That can't be. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042984)

If you define "computer" as programmable, Ada & Charles were first. The mechanism discussed here is not programmable, everything is hard-coded. The Analytical Mechanism is the first general-purpose computer, Antikythera is a single-purpose computer, more like a scientific calculator if you want an analogy.

Anti-kythera? (1)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042402)

So what's this "kythera" that they were so afraid of? Is it coming?

Re:Anti-kythera? (1)

Pyrus.mg (1152215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35043374)

C'thulu's ex-wife.

Re:Anti-kythera? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35043684)

So what's this "kythera" that they were so afraid of? Is it coming?

It's Cthulhu's mom.

Really impressive (1)

RNLockwood (224353) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042528)

It's really an accomplishment to have been able to piece out the internal structure of the badly corroded artifact and deduce its function and how it worked. It's also remarkable to have built one out of Legos. What a coincidence that the dimensions of the Lego parts were very close to the same dimensions of the parts in the artifact; if not the Lego machine would be a working model, not a replica.

BCE? (-1, Offtopic)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 3 years ago | (#35043830)

please stop inventing more acronyms just for the sake of being politically correct.

Re:BCE? (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#35044146)

The term BCE has been used since the 19th century. It predates everybody here, and it also predates the term "politically correct".

Re:BCE? (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35044382)

It's also laughably silly. I'm atheist, but seriously - giving a date based on some event a new name does not change the significance of the date. It's childishness.

Re:BCE? (1)

gnapster (1401889) | more than 3 years ago | (#35046488)

And yet BCE, in turn, is predated by "BC," by at least a thousand years.

Double the gears? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35043842)

A quick blurb says it uses twice as many gears as the original, perhaps because they had to use off-the-shelf teeth counts. I'd like to see a reconstruction of the original, not a reconstruction of the function.

Link Exchange (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35044730)

My name is Geoff and I represent www.ClassicalConnect.com, a virtual concert hall and the biggest searchable collection of classical music on the Internet.

All our performances are either uploaded by professional musicians or sent to us by those who own legal rights for those performances. We feature over 2000 performances of classical music masterpieces and that number is constantly growing.

I came across your site and thought you might be interested in either exchanging links, or finding some other mutually beneficial opportunities. I am open to your suggestions and look forward to your reply.

Best Regards,
Business Development
www.ClassicalConnect.com
gwgegen@gmail.com

Arthur C. Clarke said about the Antikythera (1)

purplemecha (1823386) | more than 3 years ago | (#35046924)

Arthur C. Clarke on the TV show "Mysterious World" said if the Antikythera Mechanism had not been lost, we might have populated all the stars visible to the naked eye. What he meant was that the lost of the Antikythera Mechanism set back computing by 2000 years. He reasoned that if it had not been lost, that we might have been 2000 years farther along in computing. It really does boggle my mind to think what could have been if this had become widely known and used, would we have really gone to the stars by this time.

Re:Arthur C. Clarke said about the Antikythera (1)

jarlsberg71 (953227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057926)

Steampunk would have really rocked the industrial age a few hundred years earlier.
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