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The Fée Verte Absinthe Forum - The Oldest, Largest, Most Authoritative Absinthe Forum. > The Monkey Hole > Arts & Philosphical Sundries
I saw last night on public TV a NOVA show called The World's First Computer. I liked it so much I watched it twice.

Basically, the "computer" is an intricate piece of clockwork built over 2000 years ago to track lunar eclipses, and probably other celestial events. I won't say "predict" like they continually do in the show, because you don't have to "predict" what you already know is going to happen, and they knew because the Babylonians had watched these things in the sky for hundreds of years, knew they were cyclical (the cycle is 18 years, I think) and documented it all. This little box not only told the date and time of the upcoming eclipse, but the color of the moon that could be expected.

Kirk, you should catch this show if you get a chance. I did read that book you gave me about the Italian guy and the dome he designed, btw. Fascinating stuff.
I saw the show and I've been admiring the mechanism for many years. The first time I saw the Antikythera mechanism was in an Eric Van Daniken book, maybe "chariots of the gods" and I remember even then being offended for the ancient craftsmen who laid out such a gear train with simple dividers and cut them out by hand, no mean feat, even today but explainable by more humble means than ancient astronuts, ( not to say there never were any).
That book about Brunelleschi's dome, I loved the part where the tiny lantern structure on top required so much stone it filled every yard and curb for several square blocks and caused much alarm when people realized it was all destined for top of the delicate dome.
Yeah, he seems to have made a career of freaking out the average schmo and one-upping the brighter ones. Some of the scientist men want to believe Archimedes designed that eclipse box, and maybe he did. The scene in the video of a present-day craftsman laying out one of those gears using simple calipers was instructive. Believe it or don't, I recently laid out a three-foot hex sign for the side of a barn. I had no calipers, but I did build a simple jig for laying out the circles with pretty good results.

I have the same reaction when my nephew tries to convince me that aliens built the pyramids. I find it offensive; not that I could build one myself, but it comforts me somehow to know that somebody could.
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