The oldest computer in the world is 2,200 years old.. The story of the mysterious Greek “Antickythera machine”

Off the Greek island of Antikythera, divers have found a shipwreck containing a unique treasure: the world’s oldest computer, or what has become known among scientists as the “Antikythera Machine”.

Probably designed 2,200 years ago, this device is the size of a shoebox and performs complex astronomical calculations.

Although this device was discovered in 1901, the mysteries surrounding it have not yet been revealed, as only 82 pieces remain, representing about a third of the original mechanism, and are today in the National Archaeological Museum in the Greek capital, Athens. be preserved.

Here’s what we know about this unique device:

The oldest computer in the world.. What is its mission?

Designed to perform various calculations, the Antikythera machine had the ability to help track the movements of the Sun, Moon and the five planets known at the time.

According to an article published by researchers in the scientific journal Scientific Reports, this machine was a mechanical computer consisting of bronze gears that used pioneering technology to arrive at astronomical predictions by automating astronomical cycles and theories .

Researchers have tried their best to understand this device since its discovery in 1901, and although significant progress has been made in this regard, there are many mysteries surrounding the Antikythera Machine that remain unsolved.

For example, the inscriptions on the machine are written in Greek, but researchers are still uncertain about the identity of its maker.

Some researchers have assumed that the Greek inventor Archimedes (287 BC – 212 BC) was its maker, but this is an unconfirmed question.

“Whoever made this frame, he certainly had a lot of knowledge in astronomy, metallurgy and mechanics,” Aristides Vulgaris, a project team leader for the functional reconstruction of the Antikythera Machine (Frame), told Live Science.

And about the project he is leading, he said: “This project aims to reconstruct the original form of the machine and achieve a better understanding of it.” He added that they must have required “enormous manual dexterity”.

New model of the machine Wikipedia

Machine Antikythera.. Greek inscriptions revealed many mysteries

Pieces recovered from the machine contained inscriptions and inscriptions, and over the past two decades scholars have been able to read many of these Greek inscriptions using high-tech imaging methods, such as 3D X-ray scanning. This allowed them to learn a lot about how the machine works.

The tomography showed that the inscriptions describe the movements of the sun, the moon and all the five planets known in antiquity and how they were represented on the front as the ancient Greek universe.

The machine used courses from Babylonian astronomy, mathematics from Plato’s Academy and ancient Greek astronomical theories, the researchers said.

In his book, Alexander Jones, professor of the history of pure science in antiquity at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University, said that the machine “represents a level of technology that any other of the kinds that we have. , either tangible remains or detailed engravings from antiquity”, in his book A Portable Cosmos: Revealing the Antikythera Mechanism, Scientific Wonder of the Ancient World.

What did the Antikythera Machine look like?

The authors of the article published in Scientific Reports found that anyone looking at the front of the mechanism would have seen discs showing the movement of the moon, the sun, lunar nodes (the points where the moon’s orbit meets the ecliptic, cross the road). the sun seems to follow through the constellations), and Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, in addition to the zodiac calendar.

If we look at the back of the machine, we find discs showing the Metonic cycle (a cycle consisting of 19 years, after which the phases of the moon occur on the same days of the solar year), the Calibian cycle (which consists of 76 years exist) demonstrate. and is equal to four metonic cycles), and the Olympic cycle (when the Olympic Games are held every 4 years), the Saros cycle (a period of more than 18 years between two lunar eclipses), and the Exeligmos (a period of 54 year, or three Saros cycles).

Between the front and back of the machine is a large set of gears, which are designed so that all the hands describe the correct timing for all revolutions.

In a 2014 paper published in PLOS One, Tony Frith, a researcher with the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, wrote: “Suppose a user of the Antikythera Mechanism wants eclipse predictions for a particular month in a subsequent checking year. As it appears in one. of his calendars.”

Shipwrecked Antikythera Machine

It is true that the ship in which the Antikythera mechanism was discovered was discovered more than a century ago, but the wreck of this ship has not been fully investigated.

The size of this ship that carried the machine is not clear, and the same goes for the extent of the spread of the effects.

According to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the ship’s location and the depth at which it rests make exploration and drilling difficult.

The site is a slanted corner of the seabed some 40 to 50 meters below the surface, meaning it lies too deep for divers to explore, but too shallow to explore with remote-controlled vehicles and equipment.

Despite these problems, a new excavation program is being carried out by a team of archaeologists, and new artefacts are being found that shed light on the shape of this ship, which probably sank around 65 BC.

Artifacts they found included a bronze arm once attached to a statue, a game board, the remains of what may have been an ancient throne, and the head of a marble statue of Hercules.

The researchers said that many of the artifacts were luxury items intended for the wealthy. So far, excavations have not found any new remains of the machine.

In 2016, archaeologists discovered an ancient male skeleton in the shipwreck. Recently, scientists have been trying to extract DNA to learn more about the man.

Researchers are still not sure why the machine was on the ship in the first place.

“It was one of the purposes for which one would not recklessly expose himself to the risk of travel,” Jones said in his book. It is true that the machine may not have been a unique device, but it was certainly something of great value.

Jones explained that one possibility is that a technician transported the device to its owner, and that a storm likely sank the ship and brought the device to the sea floor. However, the place of departure of the ship and its destination, which it did not reach, are still the subject of ongoing research and controversy among researchers.

History of the beginning of the Antikythera mechanism

Researchers are still debating the exact date of the start of use of the Antikythera mechanism, that is, the first date on which all the calculations on which the mechanism is based were made. A paper published in March 2022 on arXiv, an archive of draft scientific papers, suggested its start date as December 17, 178 BC.

Researchers stated that on that day there was a lunar eclipse, followed by the winter solstice, followed by a festival dedicated to the mythical goddess Isis. Although Isis was an Egyptian mythical goddess, she was highly regarded in Greece at this time.

But other teams of researchers proposed another date, which is May 12, 204 BC, describing it as the most likely date for the beginning of the mechanism, and they stated that on that day there was a clear lunar eclipse in the sky of Greece was , and that date is close to the time in which Archimedes lived. He could have built this device, or maybe someone else built it in his workshop.

Source: Arabi Post

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