7th January 2019 – The Antikythera Mechanism

For our first talk of the new year, Maurice Rushby, a retired chemical engineer with a strong interest in mathematics, will talk about the Antikythera Mechanism, which is (quoting directly from Wikipedia): “an ancient Greek analogue computer and orrery used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses for calendar and astrological purposes decades in advance. It is a complex clockwork mechanism composed of at least 30 meshing bronze gears.” It was discovered in the sea in the early 1900’s, and is believed to have been constructed many decades BC.

Maurice has spent a lot of time researching this on the internet, and has put together a presentation. In his words:

“The Antikythera Mechanism is something which caught my imagination when I first heard about it. – A computer made in the years BC! It’s mechanical and not electronic, which is hardly surprising, and is programmable. It emulates the solar system and can predict things like a solar eclipse, many years ahead, giving not just the date and hour, but the colour of the eclipse. It’s mathematics includes the fact not only that the moon’s course is elliptical, but includes the precession of that ellipse.

There are the questions of where and when was it discovered, how did it get there? How was it understood/ and of course, who made it?”

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