It's the Antikythera Mechanism, which you may or may not be aware of. I hadn't realised it even existed before today.
Here are three programmes in increasing order of detail for those interested - the first has historical aspect leanings while the second is more about the engineering of the device itself. The third is for die hard boffins who want to find out about the imaging techniques used to etch out surface detail to allow the insights gained in the second programme.
The machine seems to have gained a reputation for being the world's first computer.
Go to any flea market and check out the benches with old tools (especially farming tools)and try to figure out the individual purposes of a simple tool. Most will stump you. And most are from within the last 150 years or so.
Recordman, you have introduced one of my reasons for posting on this subject. That is the nature of unique and irreplaceable human skills. We are all fodder but for a small percentage of geniuses who carry every one of us over in the leap-frog race of continual improvement of ourselves but not necessarily of our environment.
That tiny device being found under the sea near Antikythera seems to have been extremely unlikely. But it happened. We are relentless.
A 3D quality simulation of the device is available to download through this site. Even if you don't intend to fathom the device in depth, it's still interesting to play around with the simulated model. There's a list of simple instructions that will get you up and running, as they say.
Once you've downloaded it you can play around with it whenever you want to go greek.
Thanks Grecchus, this is a great thread! I had seen the History Channel episode, but not the BBC one, nor Malzbender’s presentation, the latter of which I found more interesting, even if it didn’t have a soundtrack. Amazing and terrifying when you think of what was possible with great thinkers over 2000 years ago, especially when contrasted with 1000 years later, when sicknesses were known to be caused by hexes or by small toads living in the digestive tract isn’t it? That people like Archimedes were wiped out by barbarians and that their inventions may have been melted down for use as cannonballs (per Malzbender) makes you wonder. What if ET’s gave humans those inventions to provide a jump start toward scientific advancement, only to find out on their return visits that their gifts had been melted down for use as weapons. Maybe the ET’s then decided to pass on this planet. Or maybe those ET’s were later conquered by barbaric ET’s who have no more interest in humans than dematerializing them from their beds at night bringing them on board their spaceships and probing their anuses.
Not that long ago I revisited Oliver Stone's Alexander. Worth going through the movie on a recount just to absorb his and Robin Lane Fox's commentary, which is interesting for several reasons. One being the meeting of minds between a seriously informed film-maker and an authoritative historian and expert on the subject of greek history. Result = Kaboom!
The piece on the Antikythera device just adds to the wonderment of the whole tapestry, in the way it unfolds and fits together another piece of the human historical jigsaw. The History channel programme partly covered Alexander's strong-willed general, Ptolemy, who cleverly saw his chance and embedded himself into Egyptian history. In Stone's film, we see Anthony Hopkins playing Ptolemy the Elder. And that part of the film takes place in the fabled Great Library of Alexandria. So it's nice to get down to meaningful bedrock at times because it's always great to occasionally glimpse the bigger picture.