Decoding the Heavens : Solving the Mystery of the World's First Computer Paperback
by Jo Marchant
In 1900 a group of sponge divers blown off course in the Mediterranean discovered an Ancient Greek shipwreck dating from around 70 BC.
Lying unnoticed for months amongst their hard-won haul was what appeared to be a formless lump of corroded rock, which turned out to be the most stunning scientific artefact we have from antiquity.
For more than a century this 'Antikythera mechanism' puzzled academics, but now, more than 2000 years after the device was lost at sea, scientists have pieced together its intricate workings.
In Decoding the Heavens, Jo Marchant tells for the first time the story of the 100-year quest to understand this ancient computer.
Along the way she unearths a diverse cast of remarkable characters - ranging from Archimedes to Jacques Cousteau - and explores the deep roots of modern technology not only in Ancient Greece, the Islamic world and medieval Europe.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 336 pages
- Publisher: Cornerstone
- Publication Date: 18/04/2009
- Category: Ancient history: to c 500 CE
- ISBN: 9780099519768
- EPUB from £3.99
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Review by drmaf
Thsi book is required reading for anyone who thinks our ancestors were dumb barbarians vastly inferior to the sleek, sophisticated version of Homo sapiens doing his level best to wreck the planet today. The 2000 year old Antikythera Mechanism was nothing less than a computer of outstanding sophistication. designed to calculate the positions of heavenly bodies in a number of extraordinarily complex motions. So sophisticated, in fact, that its taken near a century to figure out exactly how it works, and there is still debate about the findings today. A lively, entertaining book, popular science at its best.