This week marks the 115th anniversary of the Antikythera mechanism’s discovery and it is celebrated as the Google doodle for 17/05/2017. On 17th May 1902, the Antikythera mechanism was retrieved from the wreckage of a cargo ship in the Aegean sea. The highly sophisticated, geared, astronomical calculating device is often regarded as the world’s first computer.
The Antikythera mechanism is an astounding landmark in the history of science and technology—one of the true wonders of the ancient world. Understanding how it worked has been a fascinating detective story over more than a hundred years.”
Although the mechanism is no bigger than a shoe box, it is too priceless and unique to leave the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, so a major expedition in late 2005 brought an X-ray computed tomography machine, weighing over 7.5 tonnes, to examine the artefact in Greece.
Nikon Metrology’s imaging equipment has been instrumental in advancing our current understanding of the mechanism. It was originally thought that the CT results would be vital in providing good images of the gear train, allowing researchers to obtain good teeth counts for the mechanism’s gears, and finally resolving any arguments regarding the relationships between the gears. The CT results have achieved this, and much more. The results have revealed many more details of the mechanism, including the so called ‘pointer-follower’ in Fragment B which allows the back dial to be interpreted as spiral dials, not circular dials as previously thought. The 3D CT images have also revealed the pin and slot mechanism that has allowed researchers to discover that the mechanism models the first anomaly of the Moon’s motion.
To learn more about this fascinating device, read the original blog post here.
Or head over to the Nikon Metrology website to find out more.