The Antikythera Mechanism made out of Lego

Named after the place of discovery in 1901 in a Roman shipwreck, the Antikythera Mechanism is one of the most fascinating artifacts of the ancient world. I first heard of the Antikythera Mechanism after reading science writer, Jo Marchant’s Nature feature in 2006. Marchant later wrote a book Decoding the Heavens; a beautifully written account of the incredible 2000 year computer, its discovery and the challenge of unraveling what is was, where it came from and who made it. According to Marchant the clock-like mechanism, ‘computed and displayed the movement of the Sun, the Moon and possibly the planets around Earth, and predicted the dates of future eclipses‘.

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What’s incredible is the sophistication of the device and that there is no physical record of anything as technically complex for at least another millennium, with western civilisation suffered from some sort of collective amnesia for over a 1000 years as it entered the Dark Ages. The high value of Bronze (the main material of the mechanism), also means similar devices were probably melted down over time.

Last week, Adam Rutherford a self-proclaimed “professional geek”, successful science writer and broadcaster released a video of a fully functional Antikythera Mechanism, made from Lego! According to Wired, Rutherford approached Lego-master and Apple software engineer, Andrew Carol, after hearing that he’d built a Babbage Difference Engine , also made from Lego.

Check out the video below. Family members – if you’re reading this, I want one for Christmas…

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