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Still from video
Still from video

2,000 year old computer reconstructed in Lego

…Eh, how did he do that?
Jan 9th 2011, 1:14 PM 1,363 0

WE DON’T MIND patting ourselves on the back nowadays for our advances in science and technology – and that’s fair enough – but it’s sometimes all too easy to forget the level of sophistication our ancestors displayed in engineering and mathematics.

Few artifacts serve as so strong a reminder of the sophistication of our predecessors as the Antikythera mechanism; an artifact fished out of an ancient shipwreck by spongedivers off the Greek mainland at the turn of the last century.

For almost a century the significance of the mechanism was not fully understood, until – at last – science historians realised the artifact was nothing less than a complex 2,000 year old analogue computer, designed to calculate astronomical positions with near-perfect accuracy.

All in all, a pretty good find from 100 BCE.

The actual Antikythera mechanism is displayed the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, so your chances of having a poke at it are minimal. However Andrew Carol thankfully decided to have a crack at building a mechanism that reproduces the algorithm out of Lego – with very impressive results: Using all plastic gears, Carol’s creation predicts the year, date, and time of future solar and lunar eclipses accurately to within two hours.

(Warning: Watching video below may cause doubt over the superiority of one’s own Lego techniques.)

Video via Vimeo

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Jennifer Wade

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