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Antikythera mechanism

The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient mechanical analog computer (as opposed to digital computer) designed to calculate astronomical positions.

It was discovered in the Antikythera wreck off the Greek island of Antikythera, between Kythera and Crete, and has been dated to about 150-100 BC.

The Antikythera mechanism is one of the world's oldest known geared devices.

It has puzzled and intrigued historians of science and technology since its discovery.

The device uses a differential gear, previously believed to have been invented in the 16th century, and is remarkable for the level of miniaturization and complexity of its parts, which is comparable to that of 18th century clocks.

It has a differential gear arrangement with over 30 gears, with teeth formed through equilateral triangles.

When past or future dates were entered via a crank (now lost), the mechanism calculated the position of the Sun, Moon or other astronomical information such as the location of other planets.

The use of differential gears enabled the mechanism to add or subtract angular velocities.

The differential was used to compute the synodic lunar cycle by subtracting the effects of the sun's movement from those of the sidereal lunar movement.

It is possible that the mechanism is based on heliocentric principles, rather than the then-dominant geocentric view espoused by Aristotle and others.

Note:   The above text is excerpted from the Wikipedia article "Antikythera mechanism", which has been released under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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October 10, 2015

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