Watch a working model of the ancient clockwork device that some call the world’s first computer
Regulars of the Science Weekly podcast will remember our interview with Jo Marchant, the author of Decoding the Heavens. The book tells the story of the Antikythera mechanism, a mysterious clockwork object made up of numerous meshed cogs that was discovered more than a century ago among the cargo of a Greek shipwreck.
The mystery of how the Greeks had made a machine that appeared to be 1800 years ahead of its time and why that knowledge was seemingly lost is fascinating, but Marchant’s story is really about the scientists and engineers who have fallen under the spell of the Antikythera mechanism over the last century. It is a gripping tale of scientific obsession, rivalry and skulduggery.
If there is one thing that lets the book down, it lacks clear diagrams of how the cogs fitted together and hence how the mechanism worked. This video makes up for that. It shows Michael Wright’s working model of the Antikythera mechanism. I defy you not to be amazed.