Show Book List

Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Tim Gebhart
The Independent
Washington Post
PopularScience
Los Angeles Times
Telegraph.co.uk

Jo Marchant

Decoding the Heavens

In 1900 a wreck was discovered off the small island of Antikythera, and divers recovered many valuable artifacts from Greece in the 1st Century BC . But amid the statues was a small lump of corroded bronze which turned out to be the most important find of them all.In Decoding the Heavens: Solving the Mystery of the World's First Computer Jo Marchant tells the story.

The 'Antikythera Mechanism' as it became known turned out to contain gear mechanisms which shouldn't have been possible until over a thousand years later. Although writings from Ancient Greece had hinted at the possibility of such devices, it had seemed unlikely that they had actually been made. This object changed that view. But as it was so corroded, any attempt to work out what it was for seemed to be mostly guesswork. As technology has improved though, in particular X-ray technology, it has been possible to study it in more detail, and within the last decade a convincing explanation of its purpose had been found.

Its the sort of puzzle that researchers can become fixated upon solving. With restricted access to the object and different groups working on the solution, this has lead to a fair amount of competition and disappointment. The book tells a fascinating story of an important object in the history of technology - one that I hadn't heard of before - and I would recommend it as well worth reading.

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 336 pages  
ISBN: 030681742X
Salesrank: 725814
Weight:1 lbs
Published: 2009 Da Capo Press
Marketplace:New from $49.96:Used from $4.99
Buy from Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 336 pages  
ISBN: 0099519763
Salesrank: 256709
Weight:0.53 lbs
Published: 2009 Windmill Books
Amazon price £9.98
Marketplace:New from £4.74:Used from £5.42
Buy from Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.ca info
Hardcover 336 pages  
ISBN: 030681742X
Salesrank: 801876
Weight:1 lbs
Published: 2009 Da Capo Press
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 47.97:Used from CDN$ 14.04
Buy from Amazon.ca





Product Description
The bronze fragments of an ancient Greek device have puzzled scholars for more than a century after they were recovered from the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, where they had lain since about 80 BC. Now, using advanced imaging technology, scientists have solved the mystery of its intricate workings. Unmatched in complexity for a thousand years, the mechanism functioned as the world's first analog computer, calculating the movements of the sun, moon, and planets through the zodiac.

In Decoding the Heavens , Jo Marchant details for the first time the hundred-year quest to decode this ancient computer. Along the way she unearths a diverse cast of remarkable characters—ranging from Archimedes to Jacques Cousteau—and explores the deep roots of modern technology, not only in ancient Greece, but in the Islamic world and medieval Europe. At its heart, this is an epic adventure story, a book that challenges our assumptions about technology development through the ages while giving us fresh insights into history itself.