Academic enrichment

26 March 2024

Classics and Computing talk at Abingdon School

Ash (L6E)

On 5 March, President of the Royal Astronomical Society Professor Mike Edmunds presented a talk on Computing and Astronomy in Ancient Greece at Abingdon School, and I had the pleasure of attending.

Professor Edmunds talked about the Antikythera Mechanism, and how its existence changed and shaped our view of the Ancient Greeks and their engineering capabilities. It was amazing to learn how the device functioned, and what it was for; I was especially amazed to find out that the device contained 29 gears, and how the number of teeth on each of the gears was particularly important! The talk shifted my view of the Ancient Greeks to find this out, as systems this complex weren’t seen until roughly 1,400 years later.

Professor Edmunds went on to explain that he had personal experience with the mechanism being one of the handful of people who worked on the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project. He talked about the processes they used to photo and model the device – which is currently in over 80 fragments – and what they discovered about the function. There were multiple dials on the device, each with specific individual mechanisms, and all of them were operated by one big gear called ‘The Chariot Wheel’.

It was nice to hear Professor Edmunds share his reasoning as to why he thought the device was made on Rhodes, which entailed an interesting quote from Cicero. Everyone attending enjoyed the talk, and I gained knowledge of a new area to research!

Ash (L6E)

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