Earlier this week, Google released another one of its already famous doodles. Its latest subject was the Antikythera mechanism or what is considered as being one of the world’s first computers.
This doodle made its debut on May 17th, a date which marks the 115th anniversary of the discovery of this unique relic. Discovered by Greek scientists, this is now part of the collections of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.
The Antikythera Mechanism and Its Complex Nature and History
The mechanism got its name from the place in which it was discovered. Back in 1902, Valerios Stais, a Greek archeologist, detected a “corroded chunk of metal” as he was sifting through artifacts recovered from a shipwreck in Antikythera.
The particular piece looked like a wheel or gear. Further research revealed that it was, in fact, a part of the Antikythera mechanism. This is the ancient variant of an analog astronomical computer.
“The Antikythera mechanism tracked planetary positions, predicted lunar and solar eclipses, and even signaled the next Olympic Games. It was probably also used for mapping and navigation,” stated Google.
In the same post to announce its release, the company also offered some historical data about the ‘device’. The mechanism features a frontal dial, which offers both solar and zodiacal calendars. On its back side, it came with several other dials, which represented the celestial cycles.
Thanks to 3D tomography, scientists were able to generate computer models of the Antikythera mechanism. These revealed its complex system, based on over 30 “sophisticated gears” as intricate as even some 18th-century clocks. All these pieces are contained by a case, about the size of a shoebox, made out of bronze and wood.
Initially, the mechanism was believed to date back to about 85 BC. The latest research suggests that it may be even older. More precisely, it could date back to around 150 BC.
Specialists continue studying this impressive mechanism and its inner workings as they are also trying to find its exact purpose. Google stated, through its doodle, that the Antikythera mechanism can still open “a skyful of knowledge and inspiration”.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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