Posted by: Dr Churchill | January 4, 2015

Dialogue on the Ebb and Flow of Time, Science, and Civilization: How Archimedes Ancient Computer is a time capsule from Two Millennia ago that schools us today and trashes our current hubristic religious beliefs.

In today’s Science and Leadership, the problem with Irrational Decisions and Thoughts is not only that they block the Rational Ones, but the Ideological and Religious Doctrines prevalent in our Society today, completely obfuscate and cloud-out the Rational Alternatives that might prove life saving in Governance, Education, Climate Change, and all other Maximalist existential issue out there.  So this two thousand year old computer might give us some clues as to what is the preferred course to follow for our Civilisation…

Dialogue on the Ebb and Flow of Time – Science – and Civilization: How Archimedes Ancient Computer is a time capsule from Two Millennia ago that schools us today and trashes our current hubristic religious beliefs.

The Antikythera Computer, is an ancient analog computer and the first astronomical device proving that we live in a Sun centered planetary orbital system. This is what we call in Astronomy — the Heliocentric planetary system we inhabit.

This ancient mechanical astronomical computer models the movement of the Stars and planets accurately to the minute, proving not only that the knowledge of this Earth revolving around the Sun existed in the Golden Era of Science — but also that it was possible to built astronomy computers to model this “knowledge” for regular calendar functions. The precise modeling included all the solar and lunar eclipses and this was the prevailing State of the Arts and Sciences in the Greek-Hellenistic world some twenty-two hundred years ago…

Today the calcified and corroded remnants of this marvel of ancient science and engineering, have been thoroughly researched, verily studied, and re-studied, and accurately re-dated, through the latest research to find the exact date of it’s manufacture. This date now falls to before 205 BC.

This is conclusive news that this ancient astronomical analog computer came from the working laboratory of the man who said with a serious face this: “Give me a lever long enough and I shall move the Earth”

This computing artifact was salvaged from an ancient underwater shipwreck discovered in Southern Greece in 1901, and has recently been re-dated to 205 B.C. based on improved “dating” science and knowledge gathered from a century of research on this most ancient of computers.

The Antikythera Computer Mechanism is exhibited today at the Archaeological Museum in Athens Greece where it has attracted renewed attention since the new research findings came to light and new underwater searches resumed at the site of this shipwreck.

The builder of this astronomical computer is now certainly the man who knew that He could move the Earth — Archimedes. The ancient cool geek thinker & doer, mathematician and extraordinary inventor, leader and innovator, with a mean engineering workshop employing hundreds of scientists and engineers as manufacturing needs of applied science tools, and smart devices as well as the making of weapons and computers demanded…

His ancient workshop was the Apple company of his day and Archimedes was the Steve Jobs of his world — building the coolest computers and machines for everyday use. A bit expensive and exclusive but so is Apple’s gear today too when compared with the average income around the world.

This highly precise astronomical calendar computational device consists of a vast series of intricate, interlocking gears designed to predict eclipses of the Sun, and calculate the present positions of the celestial objects such as the sun, moon and planets as they swept across the sky.

This is really surprising for the scientific community, because we had all assumed that after the loss of the ancient knowledge through the onslaught of the early Christian fundamentalist Taliban, the Heliocentric view — the theory that the Sun moves at the center of the Solar system —  didn’t come to us until the late 16th century with the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment, through Copernicus reviving the ancient Greek Heliocentric astronomical science. And the history of science tell us that later this Heliocentric view was mathematically proven through Kepler and finally observed with the telescope of Galilei more than a century later in the 1600s.

Yet this Antikythera Computer of 2,200 years ago, proves conclusively that our ancestors were a lot smarter than we give them credit for. And they had built computers that proved their knowledge of the Heaven and had built tools to take advantage of and maintain the application of that knowledge for useful everyday things like seafaring safely straight across the vast seas — away from the sight of coastal landfall.  The ancient scientists had observed and refined through Astronomy, Mathematics, Geometry, and Trigonometry, their mapping and navigational knowledge, and built it in their mechanisms like the Archimedes astronomical computers and the Astrolabe, in such a way that this “Art” survived to the time of Columbus and aided him in “finding” his way to the Americas.

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Still as we traverse the seas and the skies today, our current studies reveal that the Antikythera computer had at least 30 interlocking and interoperating gears, and levers, moving the dials that reveal the position of the stars, the date and day of the calendar, and even the hour of that day or night. And with the aid of an Astrolabe it give you a very definite idea of where you are in the middle of the sea and it orients you better than a modern magnetic compass. This ancient computer does a lot except it doesn’t have a meteorological app, so it can’t warn you for sudden vicious storms… that can spill you into the drink.

After tremendous study today’s latest researchers believe the Antikythera analog computer held at least a few dozen more wheels and differential gears, and a lot more secrets that are waiting to be discovered. This Astronomical computer back in the days of Archimedes, must have been a real boon to navigation, agriculture, governance, leadership, maritime commerce, war, and cybernetics, as well as a host of other applications.

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Yet when this Archimedes Astronomical Computer was new and fully functioning — it never received the widespread application computers receive today because it was probably too expensive and needed special knowledge to operate. Or at least this is the popular theory of why the knowledge was lost.

I have a better explanation: The ancient computer science and astronomy was lost to us for two thousand year because back then it was suppressed, much like today when certain complex knowledge areas, and especially science are easily attacked by fundamentalist believers and the scientific knowledge is prohibited therefore “lost” to all of us, when the simpleton adversarial system of belief overtakes Society and makes the real knowledge heretical. As an example think of the schoolbooks in Texas that describe the 7 day creation as the founding of the Universe and place the start of our world and humanity some 6 thousand year ago. Or take the leader of the science committee of the United States Senate who believe in an Apocalyptic Teleological end of Humanity — but doesn’t believe in Climate Change. When this becomes the prevailing belief of Society, just fold your hands, sit back, and wait for the clowns to start marching in…

So today in the US, the leader of the House Committee on Science is Lamar Smith who represents the 21st Congressional District of Texas as a lifelong Republican and Christian Fundamentalist. He serves today as the powerful Chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, of the US government. Sadly he doesn’t believe much in Science, or even in Climate Change, or in Space exploration, but he is truly a devout Christian Fundamentalist. And as luck would have it today he serves as the Chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, which has jurisdiction over programs of NASA, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The Science Space and Technology Committee oversees agency budgets of $39 billion, where the primary focus is on research and development.  As Chairman of the Science Committee, Congressman Smith promotes legislation that encourages scientific discoveries, space exploration, and new technologies. With this man at the helm of science in the United States am seriously scared, because somehow I see this as going down pear shaped pretty quickly…

This is also what happened back in the Roman Christian years when true science was suppressed and we lost the ancient knowledge of a Heliocentric astronomy and along with it the computers built by Archimedes, when the “primitive” and fairly barbaric Romans took over the science rich city of Syracuse and killed off all of it’s leading scientists… Later the Christian missionaries and church establishment completed the job, by destroying all the ancient Greek Universities, systematically burning down all the Libraries, and  demolishing the ancient hospitals and temples. Hunting down and killing the leading scientists of the day like the famed woman philosopher & astronomer Hypatia of Alexandria … who also promoted the Heliocentric view of the world, was how the Christian church silenced women and scientists alike. Much like the backwards Taliban of today shooting innocent girls like Malala on the head, just because they want to go to school and study science — the Christian Talib of the past killed those truly seeking the Observable and Scientific Empirical Truth; through the powers of the State whose might they had usurped — when they infected the Leaders with the virus of ignorance masquerading as religious belief. That is why the Founding Fathers of America defined sharply the separation of Church and State. The Founders saw the danger of the Church usurping the state through the Leader’s private belief, and put there is no seepage of viruses from the erroneous dreamy beliefs of goat herding prophets and assorted desert dwellers, with far too much time in their hands and too many wives and goats driving them batty.

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But all that is past history and even then, the ancient seafarers still searched, found, and used the “secret” knowledge to navigate, create accurate maps, and thus continue sailing the seven seas, even though theirs was heretical knowledge. For there is no way you can convince a sailing ship captain, a simple sailor, or a sailing mariner, that the earth is flat when their eyes tell them differently each and every day, when they see a ship’s mast appearing on the horizon before the vessel’s hull, or when they glimpse landfall seeing the mountaintops first from far out at sea.

Yet even today when the ancient computer of Antikythera and Archimedes wisdom is the basis of the science that allowed us to progress far enough and travel to the stars like modern spacefarers — there are those masses of ignorance amongst us, that believe the Moon landing of Apollo is a movie hoax staged in Hollywood, and that a vengeful God is coming back in a fiery Rupture as a finale to roll the end credits. Sadly now these folks occupy the seat of government House and threaten the Republic with their particularly viral threat of ignorance.

Yet for those of us who understand True Science, we also share the belief and responsibility, to honour and remember these ancient people who observed, recorded, and modeled the sky symphony. And we ought to remember, that we owe a debt of honour to the Ancient Scientists so that we don’t forget what happened and fall victims to it’s repetition.  That’s the thing with History. It tends to repeat itself… And it is especially important to recall this today, because the ancient astronomical and mathematical knowledge that was encapsulated in this remnant of the ancient computer of Antikythera is again under attack. This is really potent knowledge of Leadership, same as that scientific knowledge preserved in the libraries and the Greek books of the Arab world, during the darkest years of the Dark Ages in Europe.

And later thanks to the Arab traveling scientists, this ancient knowledge seeped back to Europe through Alhambra and the Iberian Maghreb, when the Arab scientists shared the books from their libraries, and translated the ancient Greek texts so everyone could benefit and “remember”. And thus they inoculated the world with the Scientific Truth against ignorance and blind religious belief. The search for empirical truth and science began all over again bringing the dawn of the latest Enlightenment that restarted the European civilization all over again. The rediscovery of ancient maps and the Astrolabe and devices like Archimedes astronomical computer used by the great navigators ushered the Age of Discovery that brought us the connection to America and Asia all over again.

And it all got started with Archimedes and the Alexandria Science University commonly known as the Library. Yet it might seem fanciful to endow this much to an ancient machine, but as a capsule of knowledge this computing chunk of metal made up of corroded together differential gearing, serves us mightily as a testament to our intelligence and the lack thereof.

Archimedes computer found in Antikythera. is a real time capsule of knowledge and a potent warning to all of us, in that it reminds us of what can happen when we refute science and fall back to the comfort of religious belief and ignorance. The tsunami of idiocy can swamp us all and destroy our civilization fully. Two thousand years of backwardness and pain can ensue … same as the Dark Age we’ve just woken up from, like yesterday, and in some places we are still coursing through.

And that is a potent lesson for today because whatever advances we make — we can reverse them just as easily as you can mouth the words:  “There is No Climate Change.” This form of nonsense or some other such Taliban inspired unscientific nonsensical doctrine is enough to turn off the lights on our own Civilization today.

So please don’t give too much room to the Anti-Science brigade to breathe, in America and beyond, because it might prove to be a far too powerful ideological movement to keep at bay. And if this faulty ideology takes over the “machine” of the greatest Superpower the world has ever seen – it might be a replay of the Roman empire being taken over by the Christian Doctrine and suppressing all sciences and by virtue of the Empire — launching us all in another 1500 years of Dark Ages.

And truth be told, this shoebox-sized chunk of ancient mechanical bronze although I call it the “Arc of the Science Covenant” is not impressive. At least it was not impressive enough at first, and thus didn’t attract much attention, when divers first retrieved it from the bottom of the sea in the shipwreck found off the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901. But in due time it came to be seen as an ancient Scientific instrument worthy of further study.

Patience is important in history and in the case of this “find” it didn’t help that archaeologists on that expedition had their hands full with far more impressive finds, including life-size artifacts, bronze-statues, statues of warriors and horses, glassware, delicate glass bowls and scores of ceramic vessels called amphorae — that needed to be surfaced, saved, and catalogued carefully — thus giving no attention to the bashed metal mess full of differential gearing.

Many decades would pass before scientists revisited the “find” and studied it separately from the rest of the sunken ship’s cargo, and realized that the nondescript bronze chunk of corroded metal gears, mashed tightly together and found in the bottom of the sea — was the biggest treasure of them all.

Now commonly called the Antikythera Computing Mechanism [Ante-kith-er-uh] this early computing device consists of a series of intricate, interlocking differential gears, springs, pivots, and levers, which when turned through a central winding knob, are designed to predict sun and moon eclipses, and calculate the exact positions of the sun, moon, and all the planets of our solar system, as they sweep across the sky over the space of centuries. It’s an astronomical computer clock par excellence far more complex than the Big Ben or any of your current timepieces.

And now we know at long last the builder of it. We finally figured it out by connecting the fragmented dots here. Am saying this because we just learned that this “find” was built around the time of Archimedes lifetime and it wa the Skipper’s computer at the long sea voyages. From here on it is easy to surmise that it wa built at that shop of applied science and physics “magic” the Archimedes famed workshop of antiquity. Archimedes had created a hotbed of Innovation in the ancient city state of Syracuse, in what is now Sicily — the largest island of southern Italy. Back then it was the most powerful Greek city state of it’s time until it was sacked by the emergent and powerful Roman state.

Thus when we come to talk about the Antikythera astronomical computational machine, we best remember the genius behind it. Archimedes the “builder” of this sort of “spheres” is credited with building this Astronomical Computer” called a “sphere” in his time. Cicero the noted Roman historian corroborates this story through his writings telling us the following:

The Antikythera Archimedes computer exhibits a level of technological sophistication no one dreamed possible when it was built, more than Two Thousand and two hundred {2,200} years ago. As a matter of fact Europe produced nothing to near equal this computer, until the complex mechanical planetary system renditions of astronomical geared clocks, of the late Renaissance period, more than eighteen hundred years later started appearing based on the knowledge gained by Copernicus reviving the Heliocentric view of the planetary solar system we course through.

Computer Scholars today describe the Antikythera Mechanism as the world’s first computer. And Science historians describe it as the evidence that first put Geocentrism to rest because it models & proves the Heliocentrism view of the world conclusively.

“The amazing thing is the mechanical engineering aspect,” says James Evans, a physicist and science historian at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. Part of an international group working to crack the puzzle of the device’s origins and purpose, Evans recently added a new twist with an analysis that suggests it dates back to 205 B.C. -— Two Thousand and Two hundred year ago {2,200} as much as a century earlier than previous studies had led us to believe the original building date of this compact astronomical computer was.

Now assuming that the current dating of this ancient computer is right — that means that the Antikythera Mechanism was actually inspired if not directly created by the legendary Greek mathematician Archimedes, since it contained his Heliocentric {Sun-centric} view of the world in it’s working system of “eclipse” computations. This is significant for the History of Science and not just the history of ancient computers, because it contains the knowledge of the Heliocentric view of our Solar System, and therefore a correct view of our Universe.

Keep in mind that the Heliocentric scientific view did not come back in vogue, until more than a Millennium and a half of “Dark Ages” later in the 1700’s and well after Galileo Galilei was almost burned at the stake of the Holy Inquisition, and had to recant his scientific findings to save his life.

It would also mean that the Antikythera Computer, was a Scientific Innovation built at a turbulent time when scientific traditions from multiple cultures were coming together to create a new view of the cosmos. The Heliocentric {Sun-centric} view of the Universe and of our Solar system, was always correct based on today’s science, and was the proper way to view our Solar System back then, and is the same as we view the sky and the celestial objects even today.

This was proper science and it contained an enlightened view of the sky above. Unfortunately it was also anathema to the leadership of the Christian church which came to power as the dominant religion of the Roman empire in the 3rd century AD, and viewed the Heavens up above, as the celestial adobe of God and saw the earth as the centre of his unwavering attention. Sadly to the Christians of the time up until pretty much yesterday — the Sun revolved around the Earth. This erroneous belief is still held by some religious tribes occupying the House of Representatives of the United States of America.

But going back to the Heliocentric Antikythera Computer of the Cosmos it serves us to remember that this valuable knowledge of a Heliocentric solar system with the Earth revolving around the sun — was fiercely suppressed all over the world and even in ancient Greece, by the Christian church and the flat earth beliefs of the anti-science “Christian Taliban” of the time. These are the folks that destroyed the ancient sciences and launched Greece, Europe, and the whole world into the Dark Ages for far too many years and certainly more than a Millennium.

And they did it the easy way. By variously controlling and usurping the power of the leading Empire of that time — same as they attempt to do today. The faulty ideology of anti-science religious doctrine is like a virus that infects the necktop computer of this world. It infects the brain of the Human Leaders, in the leading empire of our world, and thus causes us to take faulty decisions that ravage the lives of us all… in the US and beyond.

Does this remind you of the Anti-Science brigade of the Christian Right in America? Or of the GOP and the Republican Tea Party Flat Earth society?  It is a difficult world to accept if you are so myopic that you still think the Sun revolves around the Earth but there you have it… These kind of “smart” folks now control both the Senate and the House of Congress in the United States.

Let us be careful of that as we move towards the next US elections in 2016 now that the Religious Right controls all of the Legislative and the Judicial branch of the US government… If they also manage to take over the Executive branch — we are all going to be royally and thoroughly screwed.

But going back to the real science as that produced by the University of Puget Sound researcher from Washington State, who had this to say about the Antikythera Computer: “Pushing the date of the Antikythera computer’s manufacture back is exciting.” Professor Evans further elaborated: “We think it would be highly significant because it could change the picture of the development of ancient Greek astronomy, science, and engineering.”

While excitement over ancient computers, and especially ones that can calculate Heliocentric astronomy events, might not be widespread — the mechanism’s discovery and the mystery that surrounds it are so steeped in drama it has already inspired popular science books, articles, and an episode of “Nova” TV series on computer science.

The story of the Antikythera Computer’s re-discovery, is not new, but it is quite interesting. It has enough twists and turns to make it a story in and of itself without the ancient computer in charge. It is an evolving story holding our attention for over a century.

Greek sponge divers stumbled across the wreck of the ancient ship in 1900, after being blown off course and taking shelter in the lee of the tiny island Antikythera in the South of Greece and north of the island of Crete. During their usual sponge hunting and gathering underwater activities, there — they found the ancient shipwreck littering the sea floor, on this underwater site, by accident. Naturally more sustained underwater excavations followed. The next year, with the assistance of archaeologists, the sponge divers, dived deep and searched widely, and they hauled up one of the richest bounties of Greek ancient artifacts ever uncovered. It was a giddy time, with plenty of riches surfacing “unearthed” from the sea floor — but one diver lost his life and two others were crippled for life, from spending “too much time” while working at depths of up to 200 feet under the sea surface with rather primitive diving equipment. Today they are remembered as pioneers of the underwater archaeology field.

Fifty years later — famed French explorer Jacques Cousteau, also visited the site in the 1950s and 1970s, using an underwater vacuum to suck up sediment and reveal buried objects. He also contributed to the completion of our knowledge about this ancient shipwreck and of the Antikythera Computer.

Scientists think the ship was a Greek merchant vessel of a standard built of the time, that fell into a storm and foundered on this unforgiving sea around the year 60 B.C. And the computer mechanism on board was used as a Captain’s aid to navigate at night or under cover of clouds, or in the event of an eclipse, and to calculate the year, the date, and the month, the time and length of the sea voyages he was coursing through, his position on the map, how far he were from his destination, as well as the time of day, and even the bi-annual dates of the famous sporting events of the Era such as the Olympic Games and the Nemean Games taking place on alternate years.

I don’t recall ever having all of this computational power in time short and long at my fingertips in one device as a Sea Captain in all my years sailing for fun and competitive sport. But this ancient Mariner had all of this at his fingertips and more… And this old sea Captain had to have a fancy astro-calendar computer at his disposal, along with an astrolabe, in order to know the time and date and thus set his position and course at sea by seeing all of this hugely useful information. This was the ultimate “tool” for a man who spent long times at sea voyaging away from land and coastal navigation and thus needed a celestial triangulation instrument such as Archimedes computer and the Astrolabe, to assist him in traveling straight, when viewing no landmass, by sailing in the middle of the seas.

So it follows that this computer whose manufacturing date comes to be revised at two hundred years before the Christian Era was the boon to navigation that the early sea captain used to connect the world back then. Two thousand years, twenty two centuries, or Two Millennia earlier than our own toying with computers today erroneously lead us to think that Alan Turing manufactured the first complex computer in the 1940’s…

The Antikythera Computer schools us all in that Innovation is a series of rearrangements of science “idea parts” into a novel way. So as we profit from our computer knowledge today — best we remember our Innovating ancestors as they trod down the same paths we walk on today. In Antikythera the archaeologists eventually identified more than 80 corroded fragments believed to be part of the Antikythera Mechanism, including the shoebox-sized piece with dials and gears clearly visible on the surface, and are all collected in the Athens Archaeological Museum for your view and examination.

And it took far too many years of careful study to get to the real breakthrough in understanding the Antikythera Computer. This came in 2005, when a team of scientists used both spectrography and X-ray tomography to peer through the encrusted metal and reveal the layers of gears inside. Further digital imaging techniques yielded the first sharp images of the inscriptions on the dials and casings. thermoluminescence and radiocarbon dating also gave us the better dating we have today… that places the manufacture of the Antikythera Computer on the year 205 BC

The scientific studies reveal at least 30 interlocking gears, and researchers believe the device held at least several dozens more.

The assembly was housed in a wooden box and operated by a hand crank. Elaborate dials traced the movement of heavenly bodies, while ingenious gearing mimicked the fluctuating speeds at which the moon crosses the night sky, proving the Greeks had an understanding of the elliptical orbit responsible for the effect.

One dial plotted the four-year cycle of Olympic Games. Another predicted the timing of solar and lunar eclipses, apparently down to the hour.

That was the dial Evans and Christián Carman, of the University of Quilmes, Argentina, focused on for their new analysis, published in the Archive for History of Exact Science.

Based on the style of Greek lettering on the Antikythera Mechanism, previous estimates of its construction date ranged between 150 to 100 B.C. But Evans and Carman took an astronomical approach, comparing eclipse dates on the mechanism to Babylonian eclipse records and a NASA eclipse catalog.

They concluded that the “start date” for the eclipse predictor was 205 B.C.

That doesn’t prove the device was built then, but Evans thinks it was built well before that date or even much earlier to accommodate the calendar projections. “For us, it seems most likely that it was built close to the period for which it would have worked best,” he said.

Science historian Alexander Jones, who was not involved with the analysis, called it “a really remarkable piece of work.”

Evans and Carman clearly establish the oldest possible age for the device, said Jones, of New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. But he’s still not convinced it was actually manufactured that long ago. It’s possible that 205 B.C. was a historic date, chosen by the maker as the starting point for his dial, Jones pointed out.

The 205 B.C. date is tantalizing because it would bring the device closer to the life time of Archimedes. Archimedes is the genius who revolutionized geometry, mathematics, and engineering, and was a prolific inventor of various early complex machines and engines. Archimedes invented the corkscrew water transfer system, the grain elevator, the mechanical elevator, defense weapons, internal combustion engines, weapons like the “Greek Fire”, as well as steam cannons, complex mirror machines, focusing lenses, and other complex engineering marvels, like the Antikythera planetary movement modeling computer, war mechanisms and machines, compound-pulleys and various buildings. He was credited as the original creator of many of DaVinci’s innovations, and was killed in 212 B.C. during the Roman conquest of the Greek city state of Syracuse, on the island of Sicily in Southern Italy.

Archimedes is credited through a story written by the famed Roman historian Cicero, who claimed that the Roman general who killed Archimedes and sacked the Greek city of Syracuse, brought back to Rome a mechanical brass sphere created by Archimedes, that modeled the movements of all the heavenly bodies…

And this brings us back to the Antikythera Computer and the attribution to Archimedes, the famous Greek inventor, as it’s father. Sure Archimedes died a full seven years before 205 B.C., and there’s no direct way to link his hands to the manufacture of the Antikythera Computer… but his mental footprint is all over this ancient computer. And as such the New Research suggest that He is the ultimate father of Computer Science.

Archimedes of Syracuse (/ˌɑːkɪˈmiːdiːz/; Greek: Ἀρχιμήδης; c. 287 BC – c. 212 BC) was an Ancient Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity.

Generally considered the greatest mathematician of antiquity and one of the greatest of all time, Archimedes anticipated modern calculus and analysis by applying concepts of infinitesimals and the method of exhaustion to derive and rigorously prove a range of geometrical theorems, including the area of a circle, the surface area and volume of a sphere, and the area under a parabola. Other mathematical achievements include deriving an accurate approximation of “Pi” defining and investigating the spiral bearing his name, and creating a system using exponentiation for expressing very large numbers. He was also one of the first to apply mathematics to physical phenomena, founding hydrostatics and statics, including an explanation of the principle of the lever. He is credited with designing innovative machines, such as his screw pump, compound pulleys, and defensive war machines to protect his native city Syracuse from the Roman invasion.

Archimedes died after the Fall of Syracuse when he was killed by a Roman soldier despite orders that he should not be harmed. Cicero describes visiting the tomb of Archimedes, which was surmounted by a sphere and a cylinder, which Archimedes had requested to be placed on his tomb, representing his mathematical discoveries.

Even if you can’t get your head around to the fact that Archimedes who lived twenty three hundred years ago, had the requisite knowledge to built the Antikythera Computer — You would have to admit that whoever built the Antikythera Computer, must at least have made use of what Archimedes had invented or innovated upon, what he had created, or what came out of the Scientific, Astronomical, and Mathematical traditions that started with the earlier ancient Greek Scientists and evolved with Archimedes himself.

If the date of the Antikythera computer holds up, it would also mean that this astronomical computing device was built before the invention of trigonometry, a branch of Mathematics long linked to the golden era of Greek astronomy. “I think that would make it much more interesting, because it would come from a more formative period of Greek astronomy,” Evans said.

Future revelations about the device may hinge on the discovery of additional fragments. A new series of underwater research excavations on the Southern Greek underwater site where the shipwreck and the treasured computer mechanism was found — started last year and will resume in the spring. This time, divers will be able to spend hours instead of minutes on the bottom, thanks to a pressurized robotic suit developed in Vancouver, B.C., and originally used to inspect New York City’s water system.

And as Science progresses today it’s good to remember Archimedes scientific origins come from high studies in the city I hail from intellectually — Alexandria in the Ptolemaic era.

Archimedes was born c. 287 BC in the seaport city of Syracuse, Sicily, at that time a self-governing Greek colony in Magna Graecia, located along the coast of Southern Italy. The date of his birth is based on a statement by the Byzantine Greek historian John Tzetzes that Archimedes lived for 75 years. In Archimedes own book, The Sand Reckoner, Archimedes gives his father’s name as Phidias, an astronomer about whom nothing is known. Plutarch wrote in his Parallel Lives that Archimedes was related to King Hiero II, the ruler of Syracuse. A biography of Archimedes was written by his friend Heracleides but this work has been lost, leaving the details of his life obscure. It is unknown, for instance, whether he ever married or had children. During his youth, Archimedes may have studied in Alexandria, Egypt, where Conon of Samos and Eratosthenes of Cyrene were contemporaries. He referred to Conon of Samos as his friend, while two of his works (The Method of Mechanical Theorems and the Cattle Problem) have introductions addressed to Eratosthenes  of Alexandria.

Archimedes died c. 212 BC during the Second Punic War, when Roman forces under General Marcus Claudius Marcellus captured the city of Syracuse after a two-year-long siege. According to the popular account given by Plutarch, Archimedes was contemplating a mathematical diagram when the city was captured. A Roman soldier commanded him to come and meet General Marcellus but he declined, saying that he had to finish working on the problem. The soldier was enraged by this, and killed Archimedes with his sword. The last words attributed to Archimedes are “Do not disturb my circles”, a reference to the circles in the mathematical drawing that he was supposedly studying when disturbed by the Roman soldier. This quote is often given in Latin as “Noli turbare circulos meos“.  Valerius Maximus, writing in Memorable Doings and Sayings in the 1st century AD, gives the phrase as “…sed protecto manibus puluere ‘noli’ inquit, ‘obsecro, istum disturbare’” – “… but protecting the dust with his hands, said ‘I beg of you, do not disturb this.'” The phrase is also given in  Greek as “μὴ μου τοὺς κύκλους τάραττε!” (Mē mou tous kuklous taratte!) General Marcellus was reportedly angered by the death of Archimedes, as he considered him a valuable scientific asset and had ordered that he not be harmed. Marcellus called Archimedes “a geometrical Briareus” and when he returned to Rome he brought with him several of Archimedes astronomical and calendar computers with him as the most important Treasure of his campaign…

The tomb of Archimedes carried a sculpture illustrating his favorite mathematical proof, consisting of a sphere and a cylinder of the same height and diameter. Archimedes had proven that the volume and surface area of the sphere are two thirds that of the cylinder including its bases. In 75 BC, 137 years after his death, the Roman orator and noted Senator, & historian Cicero, was serving as quaestor in Sicily. He had heard stories about the tomb of Archimedes, but none of the locals was able to give him the location. Eventually he found the tomb near the Agrigentine gate in Syracuse, in a neglected condition and overgrown with bushes. Cicero had the tomb cleaned up, and was able to see the carving and read some of the verses that had been added as an inscription.

The standard versions of the life of Archimedes were written long after his death by the historians of Ancient Rome. The account of the siege of Syracuse given by Polybius in his Universal History was written around seventy years after Archimedes’ death, and was used subsequently as a source by Plutarch and Livy. It sheds little light on Archimedes as a person, or as a Mathematician and Inventor and instead focuses on the war machines that he built in order to defend his city of Syracuse from attack and invasion.

Cicero (106–43 BC) writes about Archimedes in his dialogue De re publica, which portrays a fictional conversation taking place in 129 BC. After the capture of Syracuse c. 212 BC, General Marcus Claudius Marcellus is said to have taken back to Rome two mechanisms, constructed by Archimedes and used as aids in astronomy, which showed the motion of the Sun, Moon and five planets. Cicero mentions similar mechanisms designed by Thales of Miletus and Eudoxus of Cnidus. The dialogue says that the Roman General Marcellus who attacked, sieged, and eventually sacked Syracuse; kept one of the astronomical computing devices built by Archimedes, as his only personal loot from Syracuse, and donated another one to the Temple of Virtue in Rome. Marcellus’ mechanism was demonstrated, according to Cicero, by Gaius Sulpicius Gallus to Lucius Furius Philus, who described it thus:

Latin = “Hanc sphaeram Gallus cum moveret, fiebat ut soli luna totidem conversionibus in aere illo quot diebus in ipso caelo succederet, ex quo et in caelo sphaera solis fieret eadem illa defectio, et incideret luna tum in eam metam quae esset umbra terrae, cum sol e regione.”

English = “When Gallus moved the globe, it happened that the Moon followed the Sun by as many turns on that bronze contrivance as in the sky itself, from which also in the sky the Sun’s globe became to have that same eclipse, and the Moon came then to that position which was its shadow on the Earth, when the Sun was in line.”

This is a description of a planetarium or orrery made in Archimedes workshop who used to call them “Spheres”. Pappus of Alexandria stated that Archimedes had written a manuscript (now lost) on the construction of these mechanisms entitled “On Sphere-Making.” Modern research in this area has been focused solely on the Antikythera mechanism, an analog computing device created by Archimedes for Astronomy, and navigation and built well before 205 BC. This analog computer was probably designed for the same purposes and used extensively for navigation. Conceiving and constructing computational mechanisms of this kind would have required a sophisticated knowledge of differential gearing and the industrial working of a serious scientific and industrial workshop. This was once thought to have been beyond the range of the technology available in ancient times, but the discovery of the Antikythera mechanism in 1902 has confirmed that computing devices of this kind were not only known to the ancient Greeks, but were also widely used by specialized knowledge workers such as Captains, Generals, Navigators, and Admirals.

One thing is known about Archimedes conclusively: He was a prolific writer, mathematician, and astronomer, whose many Inventions and Innovations changed the world in fantastic ways. From Archimedes Theorem, to the Principle of Archimedes, the Archimedean Screw, and Pulley, the differential gears, the maximum levers, the naval war claw [ship crane], the Heat Ray, and from his inventing the odometer, and the steam cannon, to finessing the catapult, and creating the apogee of computer science through his “sphere making” which is the manufacture of astronomical computing mechanisms, such as the Antikythera computer. The Archimedes computer with differential gearing, movable pivots, sustained levers, and exact planetary calendar functions for millennia –prove that he was the ultimate Man of Science and Engineering.  e was also using the infinitesimal as the precursor to modern integral calculus some two thousand year ago before anyone else…

His Method, or better preserved as the Method for Mechanical Theorems is the best example of an early form of Integral Calculus.

To explain Archimedes’ method today, it is convenient to make use of a little bit of Cartesian geometry, although this of course was unavailable at the time. His idea is to use the law of the lever to determine the areas of figures from the known center of mass of other figures. The simplest example in modern language is the area of the parabola. Archimedes uses a more elegant method, but in Cartesian language, his method is calculating the integral

 \int_0^1 x^2 \, dx  = \frac{1}{3},

which can easily be checked nowadays using elementary integral calculus.

One of his mathematical discoveries that remains unproven is the following one:

In The Sand Reckoner, Archimedes set out to calculate the number of grains of sand that the universe could contain. In doing so, he challenged the notion that the number of grains of sand was too large to be counted. He wrote: “There are some, King Gelo (Gelo II, son of Hiero II), who think that the number of the sand is infinite in multitude; and I mean by the sand not only that which exists about Syracuse and the rest of Sicily but also that which is found in every region whether inhabited or uninhabited.” To solve the problem, Archimedes devised a system of counting based on the myriad. The word is from the Greek [μυριάς] murias, for the number 10,000. He proposed a number system using powers of a myriad of myriads (100 million) and concluded that the number of grains of sand required to fill the universe would be 8 vigintillion, or 8×1063.

This number would be equally difficult to prove or maybe just disprove, so serious mathematicians have left this one alone.

Go Figure that one out…


I want to think positively about the future but in case we embark on another longish “Dark Age” am wondering what future historians will make out of the remnants of an I-phone or an I-pad that might be found at the bottom of the sea…

Seems to me digital computers will not weather the extended time in salt water too well, to be of any use to the future archaeologist a couple of Millennia hence.

Note to myself: Built a bunch of Analog I-phones and drop them in the sea within large sunken vessels, as a time capsule of Human achievement from this time and space, before our civilization collapses through the ideologue ignoramus usurping the power of the state.

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Ostomachion from Archimedes Palimpset
















































The problem with Irrational responses to crises and Irrational Decisions by Leaders is that they obfuscate and cloud-out the Rational Decisions and Responses  needed to keep our fragile Civilization on course….

That’s All.






Reason is all the Power we have.



Rational Thinking makes computer Science possible and Computer Software building an industrial pursuit…



All the rest is Hearsay….




And here are some more useful links: {Heliocentrism} {Geocentrism} {Archimedes} {Antikythera Official Site} {Archimedes Science} {underwater excavations}
{Antikythera mechanism episode of NOVA TV} {underwater pressurized robotic suit} {University of Quilmes} {Archimedes} {Galileo Galilei} {Archimedes Genius in Defense Manufacture} {Archive for History of Exact Science}


  1. In today’s Science and Leadership, the problem with Irrational Decisions and Thoughts is not only that they block the Rational Ones, but the Ideological and Religious Doctrines prevalent in our Society today, completely obfuscate and cloud-out the Rational Alternatives that might prove life saving in Governance, Education, Climate Change, and all other Maximalist existential issue out there. So this two thousand year old computer might give us some clues as to what is the preferred course to follow for our Civilisation…


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