The “world’s first computer” has just revealed a new secret, 2000 years after its creation

There are objects whose legend far exceeds knowledge. This is particularly the case of the Antikythera mechanism. This ancient mechanism, discovered in 1901 near Crete, is said to be the first “analog computer.” It would have allowed the Greeks to know in advance the position of the stars in the sky thanks to a set of complex gears.

Recovered in very poor condition, historians suggest that the piece as a whole must have been composed of about ten bronze cogwheels. These fragments make it the oldest gear mechanism in the world, several centuries ahead of the technologies of the time.

A lunar calendar?

A recent study by scientists at the University of Glasgow attempted to understand the usefulness of this device. Because while scientists agree, broadly speaking, that it is an analog computer, they do not all agree on the precise use of such a precise mechanism.

In their article, published in the journal Horological Journal, The researchers explain that they have discovered 354 cavities around the gear wheels of the mechanism. They would have been dug by Man in very precise places. The number 354 would also not be random. During antiquity the Greeks followed a 354-day lunar calendar.

To discover these microscopic cavities, the scientists used data from the LIGO gravitational wave detector. Specifically, on a circle 144 mm in diameter, they discovered between 354 and 355 holes at a average spacing of 0.028 mm.

An object still very poorly understood

The level of precision and the perfect symmetry of the mechanism demonstrate that nothing in the Antikythera mechanism was left to chance. Historians are now almost certain that this strange device made it possible to monitor astronomical phenomena with great precision. In March 2022, historians from the American University of Corwell estimate that the “commissioning” of the mechanism dates back precisely to the 22nd or before JC.

On this day, more than 2,150 years ago, an annular solar eclipse would have been visible in Greece. The Sun, Moon and Earth would have been aligned, but the Moon would have been unable to block all of the Sun’s rays, leaving a “ring of fire” protruding from the darkness.

A famous inventor behind this mechanism?

The Antikythera Mechanism has fascinated ancient historians around the world for years. While it still raises many questions, the question of its inventor has been the subject of much debate. Several theories are in conflict on this point. Some scientists believe that Archimedes (who created the eponymous thrust) was the designer of this mechanism.

Other historians place their faith in Hipparchus of Nicaea, one of the greatest mathematicians of his time and founder of trigonometry. Finally, a smaller minority of scholars mention the name of Posidonius of Rhodes. This theory is however contested, as Posidonius was born after the annular solar eclipse of 178.

In some of his writings, the philosopher Cicero mentions the presence in Rome of two similar objects. In particular, there is mention of a planetarium that was supposedly made by Archimedes and brought back from Syracuse after the scientist’s death by a Roman general.

📍 To not miss any Presse-citron news, follow us on Google News And WhatsApp.