Google doodle marks the 115th anniversary of the discovery of the Antikythera Mechanism. The mechanism invented in ancient Greece between estimated 150 BC and 80 BC is considered to be the first analog 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.
Antikythera Mechanism: Fragment A front and back side
The device was retrieved from a shipwreck by sponge divers off the remote island of Antikythera in the Aegean sea.
Google writes in its Doogles page:
“On this date in 1902, Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais sifted through some artifacts from a shipwreck at Antikythera. The wrecked Roman cargo ship was discovered two years earlier, but Stais was the first to notice an intriguing bit of bronze among the treasures. It looked like it might be a gear or wheel. That corroded chunk of metal turned out to be part of the Antikythera Mechanism, an ancient 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. A dial on the front combines zodiacal and solar calendars, while dials on the back capture celestial cycles. Computer models based on 3-D tomography have revealed more than 30 sophisticated gears, housed in a wooden and bronze case the size of a shoebox.
The mechanism was initially dated around 85 BC, but recent studies suggest it may be even older (circa 150 BC). The crank-powered device was way ahead of its time — its components are as intricate as those of some 18th-century clocks.
Historians continue to ponder the Antikythera Mechanism’s purpose and inner workings, and visitors to the National Archaeological Museum of Greece marvel at its delicate complexity. Today’s Doodle illustrates how a rusty remnant can open up a skyful of knowledge and inspiration.”
The results of the 12-year research exploring the secrets of Antikythera Mechanism were presented last year in Athens.
The Antikythera Mechanism is exhibited at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. Also there, several scientific attempts to reconstruct the mechanism.