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Science

Recreating a Mysterious, 2,100-Year-Old Clock 209

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-you-thought-modern-gadgets-were-expensive dept.
fergus07 writes "Swiss watchmaker Hublot has created a scaled-down working replica of the ancient Antikythera mechanism. The question is — why on Earth would you want to strap one of these to your wrist? It barely tells the time, and it can't take pictures, tweet or connect to your Facebook. In fact, very few people would have the faintest idea what it is, or why you'd want one at all. But for those that do recognize its intricate gears and dials, this tiny, complex piece of machinery tells a vivid and incredible tale of gigantic scientific upheaval, of adventure and shipwreck on the high seas, of war and death."
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Recreating a Mysterious, 2,100-Year-Old Clock

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  • vanity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by e**(i pi)-1 (462311) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @01:29PM (#38087792) Homepage Journal
    > why on Earth would you want to strap one of these to your wrist Because here on earth, we know vanity and use status symbols to impress?
  • *eyeroll* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @01:34PM (#38087844)

    it can't take pictures, tweet or connect to your Facebook.

    Because THAT'S what's important in a watch.

  • Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @01:39PM (#38087916) Journal

    It's amazing in one respect, and sad in another. The Late Classical Greeks came so close to their own scientific revolution. If it hadn't been for the near culturally fatal effects of the Peloponnesian War, the Greeks may very well have invented science themselves. Can you imagine where we would be now if scientific methodology had fully blossomed 2,300 years ago?

  • Re:vanity (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2011 @01:44PM (#38087984)

    From TFA/TFS:

    The question is — why on Earth would you want to strap one of these to your wrist? It barely tells the time, and it can't take pictures, tweet or connect to your Facebook.

    Because fuck you, some of us want to tell what fucking time it is without at least a 1GHz processor with 16GB of RAM, you smarmy Gizmag writer asshole, that's why.

  • Because you can (Score:5, Insightful)

    by djl4570 (801529) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @01:57PM (#38088166) Journal
    "why on Earth would you want to strap one of these to your wrist?" Because it's twenty percent cooler than a Rolex.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2011 @02:00PM (#38088212)

    If you have to ask "Why?" when talking about this project, I pity your lack of intelligence and creativity.

  • by leftover (210560) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @02:36PM (#38088686) Homepage

    Chuckle at the "made by aliens" silliness as we all do, there really is a mystery to this device.
    Archimedes was more than brilliant enough to work out the math for this orrery, also to work out the design for gear tooth profiles. He had the position and influence to have access to materials and the best crafts-people of the time. But how did they actually build that thing?
    In theory an astonishingly good watchmaker could hand-file all those gears. In practice, I'm not so sure. Gears are finicky things, every single tooth must have the correct angular position, pitch diamerter and involute profile. A gear can look very pretty but simply not work with another gear. (I have made several such.) If you don't believe it, just go to a hardware store, buy a riffler file kit and some brass washers, then have at it. No microscope, no computer, no plotter. Any tools you hypothesize have to be built using the same starting conditions. It will be an educational experience. One of your observations will be that you can not see well enough to get the profile to adequately match the math for two gears to mesh smoothly.
    So the greatest mystery, for me, is: How did they make the measurements required for this work?

  • Re:vanity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShavedOrangutan (1930630) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @02:49PM (#38088846)
    At any given moment, I can see the current time on:

    Office: desk phone, laptop, pc, wall clock, cell phone.
    Kitchen: wall phone, wall clock, microwave, stove, cell phone.
    Living room: cable box, DVD player, wall clock, cell phone.
    Bedroom: alarm clock, weather station, cell phone.
    Car: radio, satellite receiver, GPS, cell phone.

    So I can't figure out why anybody would wear a wrist watch, unless for fashion. And that makes even less sense.
  • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Thursday November 17, 2011 @02:51PM (#38088872) Homepage

    And the dark ages wouldn't have been quite so dark if "The Church" hadn't insisted on things like Galileo being wrong about heliocentrism until nine years ago.

    Historians no longer use the term "Dark Ages" and haven't for decades. Late antiquity and the early medieval era was considerably more complicated than that oversimplification. Also, blaming Christianity for societal collapse in the Western Roman Empire ignores the fact that the Eastern Roman Empire went on for another thousand years, and if anything, it had an even greater bond between church and state.

  • Re:Really cool ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @03:25PM (#38089320) Homepage

    Just imagine what we lost when the idiot Christians burned the Library of Alexandria.
    Just imagine how much was lost in ideas because if stupid laws or traditions in a certain islam bible.
    Just imagine how many scientists were killed in early society in general because their ideas or understanding was greater than some monarch, and we cant have that!

    Humanity has gone out of it's way to destroy knowledge in the name of hating change. Organized political Religion (Catholic church, Radical Islam, Moonies, David Koresh, Church of the Latter Day saints, Scientology, etc....) is simply a powerful tool to help spread hate and control. None of these religions have ANY use other than to keep certain people in power and rich at the expense of others.

    Knowledge levels the playing field, therefore heads of powerful organizations go out of their way to SQUASH knowledge as it threatens their power and might.

    Not all religion does this, but the ones that have a few that benefit greatly over the control of a large group of followers does.

  • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @03:37PM (#38089452) Journal

    The Empire was already in serious decline by the time of the Edict of Milan. You can't really blame Christianity for Rome's failure. A modern understanding reveals that Rome was thumped by the first major wave of invaders out of the Asian Steppe. The economic dislocation, which came before the outright physical disruption (ie. the Huns) were too much for the Roman economy to bear. This was an Empire basically kept together through massive military spending, and thus the underlying economy had to be strong, but as that was shaken, Rome basically entered an age of reaction, rather than action, and blow after blow took it out down. Everything Rome did from that point on; Diocletian's reforms, debasement of the currency, conversion to Christianity, the filling of the Legions with German tribesmen of dubious loyalty, all amounted to stop-gate measures.

    Not that I'm defending Christianity, being an atheist myself, but I just find blaming Christianity for the failure is really a matter of putting the cart before the horse.

  • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mister_dave (1613441) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @04:11PM (#38089762)

    Not true. The church sponsored scientific discovery. In a world created by God, the laws of nature are God's laws, and worthy of study.

    The adjective 'medieval' is now a synonym for superstition and ignorance. Yet without the work of medieval scholars there could have been no Galileo, no Newton and no Scientific Revolution. In "God's Philosophers", James Hannam traces the neglected roots of modern science in the medieval world. He debunks many of the myths about the Middle Ages, showing that medieval people did not think the earth was flat, nor did Columbus 'prove' that it is a sphere. Contrary to common belief, the Inquisition burnt nobody for their science, nor was Copernicus afraid of persecution. No Pope tried to ban human dissection or the number zero. On the contrary, as Hannam reveals, the Middle Ages gave rise to staggering achievements in both science and technology: for instance, spectacles and the mechanical clock were both invented in thirteenth-century Europe. Ideas from the Far East, like printing, gunpowder and the compass, were taken further by Europeans than the Chinese had imagined possible. The compass helped Columbus to discover the New World in 1492 while printing allowed an incredible 20 million books to be produced in the first 50 years after Gutenberg published his Bible in 1455. And Hannam argues that scientific progress was often made thanks to, rather than in spite of, the influence of Christianity. Charting an epic journey through six centuries of history, "God's Philosophers" brings back to light the discoveries of neglected geniuses like John Buridan, Nicole Oresme and Thomas Bradwardine, as well as putting into context the contributions of more familiar figures like Roger Bacon, William of Ockham and St Thomas Aquinas. Besides being a thrilling history of a period of surprising invention and innovation, "God's Philosophers" reveals the debt modern science and technology owe to the supposedly 'dark' ages of medieval Europe.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gods-Philosophers-Medieval-Foundations-Science/dp/1848311508/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321560353&sr=1-1 [amazon.co.uk]

    http://jameshannam.com/ [jameshannam.com]

  • Re:Amazing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Luyseyal (3154) <swaters&luy,info> on Thursday November 17, 2011 @04:46PM (#38090224) Homepage

    Another commentator mentioned the economic aspect. I won't repeat what s/he said but I did want to add that the Roman economy was largely predicated on conquering territories to generate tax revenue. Why? Because the Senate had voted to exempt themselves from all taxation. As they gained more and more land, it generated less money for the treasury necessitating conquering more people.

    -l

    P.s., I don't have a citation right now.

  • Re:vanity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday November 17, 2011 @05:16PM (#38090566) Homepage Journal

    On the other hand, I can't figure out why anybody would carry a cell phone, unless for fashion.

    Dad? Is that you? When did you get a computer? I can't figure out why anyone would want a landline phone, all you can do with one is make and recieve calls, and it doesn't even work unless you're home. I don't have a landline. But my phone makes and recieves calls, texts, emails, accesses the internet, is a calandar, a calculator, a camera, a movie camera... it's a damned handy device to have.

    If you're not my 80 year old dad you must be trolling.

  • by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @06:46PM (#38091818) Journal

    It was looking awesome until I saw the close up, where horribly misuse Greek letters according to their coincidental resemblance to Roman letters. They use a Lambda instead of an "A"! ARRRRRGHH! I'd hate myself for having that on my wrist.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie

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