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back to article Archaeologists resume Antikythera Mechanism hunt

Scientists from the USA and Greece have returned to the site where, in 1901, a device widely regarded as the world’s first computing mechanism was found, in the hope that similar devices can be found. The device in question is the Antikythera Mechanism, an apparatus of interlocking gears dated to the first century BC. The …

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Alien

Aliens done it.

Obvious icon is obvious.

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Alien

Re: Aliens done it.

If they open the Stargate underwater, we are DOOMED!

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Black Helicopters

Re: Aliens done it.

It's not alien, it's Atlantean!

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Re: Aliens done it.

"If they open the Stargate underwater, we are DOOMED!"

Well, for a start, all our ocean will drain into some foreign planet.

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Re: Aliens done it.

"Well, for a start, all our ocean will drain into some foreign planet."

So there is no mechanism for protecting against a pressure differential between source/target locations for a stargate? Strikes me as an odd thing to do (but then I never watched the series).

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Re: Aliens done it.

Excepting that the gates contained various technologies to ensure that atmospheres (gaseous or aqueous) wouldn't pass through the gate. Smart folks those Alterra. Without this little plot mechanism, the entire "Atlantis" series would not have been possible. Every time they opened a wormhole to a space gate, Lantia's atmosphere would go roaring through the event horizon, dragging all the unfortunates in the control room with it.

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Re: Aliens done it.

"It's not alien, it's Atlantean!"

Depends who you ask -- plenty of fairyfanciers out there who will gleefully tell you that Atlantis was not a human construct.

This really is David Icke or El Ron Hubbard territory.

It was really a free gift out of an Atlantean corn flake packet - a kids toy.

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Re: Aliens done it.

"So there is no mechanism for protecting against a pressure differential between source/target locations for a stargate?"

It's uncanny how XKCD already has an answer to anything - http://what-if.xkcd.com/14/

"would happen if you opened a portal between Boston (sea level) and Mexico City (elev. 8000+ feet)?"

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Trollface

Re: Aliens done it.

I think the aliens that planted that device look more like this

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Re: Aliens done it.

"Excepting that the gates contained various technologies to ensure that atmospheres (gaseous or aqueous) wouldn't pass through the gate."

1) You spend far too much time watching sci-fi, Sheldon.

2) How does the gate know the difference between an atmosphere and you breathing, between a cup of water or a wet exterior and the sea coming through? For any race, breed, species that happens to use it (what about a slug?) How does it apply force to individual molecules to stop them transiting after having determined their part of the organic system that wanted to travel through the gate, compared to - say - some bacteria in the ocean or in your breath?

There's a reason sci-fi glosses over such things - they are impossible to work simply in practice because of such issues (e.g. "Heisenberg compensators" et al). And if you have two stargates, you have an infinite energy source, which is probably quite capable of blowing up both of them if you do something wrong (e.g. a single particle gets trapped in an inter-gate loop with differing gravity on both sides, where it then gains more and more energy from gravity until it blows the hell out of the gate - space-debris-like).

3) It's a joke about a sci-fi series, something that should NEVER be taken seriously. But apparently you missed that the first time round.

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Anonymous Coward

perhaps not

Might explain what happened to all the water on Mars.

Or, after the Mars try they further developed the gate so that they do not get flooded so badly the second time?

Just saying.

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Headmaster

Re: Aliens done it.

There is a Stargate Safety mechanism AFAIK as they can also be used to launch ships into space (small ones mind ;) ). There do find one Stargate in orbit of one planet. One of the reasons they always send a probe first. ;)

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Re: "David Icke or El Ron Hubbard"

Well make your mind up. David Icke is a rather sad case of mental illness. El Ron Hubbard was an entirely sane man who figured he could swindle gullible people out of money and thought, "Well, why not?".

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Boffin

Re: Aliens done it.

Actually, every time they even opened a gate to somewhere with a 'normal' atmosphere but at a few thousand feet altitude distance, they'd all be fucked, too!

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Holmes

Re: Aliens done it.

"There's a reason sci-fi glosses over such things"

Sci-Fi *doesn't* gloss over such things: It always attempts to explain them. That's pretty much the definition of *Science* fiction.

It's Space Opera that glosses stuff over.

qv 2001 vs Star Wars.

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Re: Aliens done it.

"...It's uncanny how XKCD already has an answer to anything - http://what-if.xkcd.com/14/..."

Actually, I recall the same plot line being used in a 1950s British SF short story. The Mad Nazi Professor (tm) develops a dimensional gate to enable armies/battleships/etc to be rapidly moved to tactically superior positions.

The Hero alters the gate settings to position the first test portal at the bottom of the Atlantic, and the whole research centre is destroyed by the lake that suddenly appears on top of it....

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Vic
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Re: Aliens done it.

> It's uncanny how XKCD already has an answer to anything - http://what-if.xkcd.com/14/

...But not necessarily the *right* answer to everything. The discussion of HPNS on that page is ... somewhat awry...

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "David Icke or El Ron Hubbard"

"El Ron Hubbard was an entirely sane man who figured he could swindle gullible people out of money and thought, "Well, why not?"."

Indeed, why not? We let the financial services industry swindle the gullible out of their money, and they haven't even given us any pulp fiction novels, or even a proper cult (if we overlook the Cult of Goldman).

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Re: Aliens done it.

"You spend far too much time watching sci-fi, Sheldon."

So says the man who then goes on to analyze whether an imaginary device made of bullshitium would cause health problems.

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Looking for more?

Maybe they should swing through The Netherlands

http://www.tatjavanvark.nl/antikythera/antikythera.html

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Re: Looking for more?

Also:

http://libra.msra.cn/Publication/4756394/the-antikythera-mechanism-a-computer-science-perspective

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Sounds like fun

Diving on an ancient wreck looking for the coolest stuff in the world. Even if they don't find anything it would still be a fantastic experience and to think they actually get paid to do it. Do you think it's too late to send them my CV? How about if I just take a few vacation days and do the dives gratis... please?

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There aren't any

The makers of the Antikythera successfully sued everyone else for using their patented round circles - and computer development stalled for 2000 years.

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Devil

Re: There aren't any

There would not be any for another reason - making one would have been very expensive by those days standards I would expect a ship to carry one (at most).

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Re: There aren't any

I wouldn't expect a ship to carry any, there were known navigation methods that didn't use one and as you say, it would have been hideously expensive (you'd need to buy about 5 years of the time of someone like Archimedes to get one).

I saw one theory that said that the missing dial on the back (period deducible from the gearing) might have highlighted the major games. A sporting almanac for some super rich merchant? That makes sense, wealthy sports fans spend ludicrous amounts on being one up on their peers to this day. Think of a device that tells you when's a good time to make a bet (this event, that conjunction of planets).

When evaluating the various theories on offer, there's one thing to consider. People back then were people, not aliens. We don't have ordinary merchant ships with above military grade experimental navigation systems today, but we do have sports nuts with more money than sense.

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Re: There aren't any

There was a TV programme about it a short while ago (BBC 3 / 4 ?) and they had a couple of engineering experts examining the mechanism to recreate the various parts. They were able to make most parts really quickly; some took less than an hour.

Most of these would also have been fairly easy to make by the standard of skills of the time; the big issue was that people producing the parts needed to understand the mathematics of the calculations behind the movements of the planets that were required for construction. There would only have been a few such people capable of this.

Add to that, it would only have been the aristocracy / theocracy that would have allowed the construction. Quite probably, they would have ordered a few to be made by one person and these may possibly have been shipped together. (But probably not)

We can be an awesomely inventive species when we choose; it's a shame that we so often turn that talent to finding ways to hurt other people in new and exciting ways.

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Re: There aren't any

" There was a TV programme about it a short while ago (BBC 3 / 4 ?)"

I think it was repeated a week or two ago, so should still be available on iPlayer.

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Trollface

Re: There aren't any

...and thus Apple was born.

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Re: There aren't any

Been at least a couples of programs on BBC about it. One is an Horizon type of program with loads of wizzy graphics and jumping all over the place, the other is more of an investigative program where you actually get the persons involved explain their line of thoughts and mistakes - just like Horizon use to be like.

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Re: There aren't any

I'm pleased to hear that there's at least one other person that thinks Horizon has degenerated to the point of being barely worth the effort. I used to tolerate the insane camera work because there was at least some useful information, but in recent years the bit rate has dropped to a point where the actual information if delivered sensibly, would have occupied about 15 mins.

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Unhappy

Re: There aren't any

Horizon: They don't want to scare off the casual viewer. When was the last time you saw a diagram or graph on it? Much easier (on the eye) to spend 10 minutes watching people on a beach throwing a ball to each other while 'explaining' the difficulties of shooting a space probe from one planet to another.

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Re: There aren't any

When was the last time you could actually watch an entire episode of Horizon? The bit rate is so slow that a four year old child could follow the story. I cant watch it anymore, despite the tantalizing synopsis in the RT or on the EPG, I find it so frustrating. It makes me feel like I'm some sort of genius bored by a potentially interesting subject. why cant they cant speed things up a bit and get more detail into the time alloted?

Maybe I should just fit a Matrix port and be done with this broadcast information upload?

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Boffin

Don't know about the Beeb,

but there are a couple of videos from Nature on YouTube ; here a link to the first....

Hope the expedition finds more relevant material - this is a wonderful machine !...

Henri

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Re: There aren't any

Its nothing to do with scaring of the casual viewer. These things are sold abroad now in preparation for the loss of license fee and so the larger audience now consists of couch omega3 free substitute potatoes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There aren't any

> I'm pleased to hear that there's at least one other person that thinks Horizon has degenerated to the point of being barely worth the effort.

The New Scientist is the same :(

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Anonymous Coward

Re: New Scientist

Oh my, it was so poor I stopped buying it. They make the horoscopes look informative.

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WTF?

Re: There aren't any

They still make Horizon?!!

Who knew ..?

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Re: New Scientist

I've been reading it since I was at school, then I moved abroad and haven't read it for a few years

I got an online subscription - I couldn't believe how bad it is

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Boffin

Re: There aren't any

> The New Scientist is the same :(

It took longer than Scientific American but, sadly, you're right.

How long before the lights go out?

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Anonymous Coward

There's not really much surprise that there is a thousand year gap, anything as dark and mysteriously able to predict the actions of 'gods' was usually burnt by the pitchfork brigade. or locked away in the popes vaults. So yeah, thanks religion.

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Holmes

hmph...

Still happens in this time and age - only whatever it is, is simply destroyed http://www.rawa.org/statues.htm

"Forward to the 7th Century..."

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Happy

Clive Sinclair built it. It's a ZX00.

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5th disk wobble was a common failing with the first series of Sinclair "Antiky"s: some owners just blamed the erratic results on a hypothetical "chunty aether" but others, as here, insisted upon a warranty repair. Of course this meant posting it back to Cambridge, and sadly this mail ship didn't make it: the dive is likely to find a large collection of bills and direct marketing for The Amphora Stora.

Even less-known fact: the largest surviving collection of "Antiky"s is in some boxes balanced on a radiator at the back of the Cambridge Sorting Office (it was raining so the driver left a "sorry you were out" card at Sinclair Research)

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Coat

But

But what will they do if they find the font cover and it has a picture of an a apple on it.

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What if they found ...

a wrecked TARDIS ?

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Re: What if they found ...

"What if they found ... a wrecked TARDIS ?"

Don't open the doors! Unless you want the entire ocean to go gurgling into the near-infinitely larger inner space.

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It wasnt a sinclair or an apple

There seems to be a lot of circumcisional* evidence that it was Archimedes what done it.

And while we're on the subject how did his folks know to call him 'top thinker'?

*like circumstantial but possibly quite close to bollocks.

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Boffin

easy.

Large Man with Dead Body: Who's that then?

The Dead Collector: I dunno, must be a king.

Large Man with Dead Body: Why?

The Dead Collector: He hasn't got shit all over him.

;)

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Re: It wasnt a sinclair or an apple

+1 just for circumcisional and accompanying explanation.

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Joke

The Ultimate Prior Art?

I bet Samsung is hoping they find the case of the device, and that it has rounded corners

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