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Friday, December 15, 2006

An Ancient Computer Surprises Scientists

John Noble Wilford, long-standing science writer for the NY Times, and author of one of my favourite books about dinosaurs, writes about the antikitera mechanism, the most complex greek artifact ever found.

I first heard about it from the pages of Martyn Mistere, an irtalian mistery comic where the namesake is an investigator of strange cases. kind of X-files ante litteram, but with lots of histor thrown in - definitely better.

anyway, back to reality: a 3D X-Ray scan revealed that the "thing" is, in fact a mechanism to predict moon phases accordingly to hypparcos theory, and the same scientist probably had a hand in designing it. well, it sounds way cooler than the mysterian hypothesis where the mechanism was suggested to humans by superior intelligences.

Knowing that 2200 years ago we were able to make something that complex, and then we lost the ability for around one thousand years, gives a certain perspective. particularly, may be computers aren't here to last...

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