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Ancient Greeks Built An Eclipse-Predicting ‘Computer’ 2,000 Years Ago

More than 2,000 years before the Great American Solar Eclipse, which will darken the skies over the U.S. on Aug. 21, astronomers in ancient Greece developed their own “supercomputer” to predict eclipses just like this one. The ancient gearbox, called the Antikythera mechanism, was used to identify astronomical events that could anchor their calendar. Sponge divers discovered the mysterious gearbox in 1900, when they took shelter from a nearby storm on the island of Antikythera. The divers unearthed an ancient shipwreck, and archaeological investigations revealed that the Antikythera shipwreck likely sank about 2,000 years ago, on its way between Rome and Asia Minor, Live Science previously reported. When explorers looked through the wreckage, they found a shoe-box-size contraption covered with dials and filled with about 30 gears made of bronze. Though the mysterious object had fragmented into dozens of pieces, archaeologists soon figured out what the enigmatic object was used for: The hand-cranked gearbox would have allowed ancient Greek astronomers to figure out the position of the sun, moon and stars at any given time in the future. Though the mysterious astronomical calculator’s 2,000 years under the sea have corroded it, scientists have used 3D imaging to reveal some of the text on the box, which provides instructions on how to use it, according to a 2016 study published in the journal Almagest. (READ MORE)


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