The Antikythera Mechanism may well be the most extraordinary surviving artefact from the ancient Greek world. It dates from around the beginning of the 1st century B.C., contains some thirty gearwheels and is an order of magnitude more complicated than any surviving mechanism from the following millennium. There is no surviving precursor. It is covered in fragmentary astronomical inscriptions, and is undoubtedly an astronomical calculating device. Despite ingenious investigations since its discovery in a shipwreck in 1900, its exact purpose and functions have remained both controversial and unclear. I have been collaborating in a major joint UK/Greek/USA project which has carried out extensive new work over the past year. Our methods include 3-dimensional x-ray tomography and surface imaging of all surviving fragments. This is leading to the decipherment of many previously unknown inscriptions, and a fresh reconstruction of the Mechanism's structure. I will describe how we are at last coming to an understanding of what the Mechanism is for, the genius behind it and its profound importance in the history of astronomy and technology.
Our General Interest Seminars are an opportunity for distinguished speakers to present new research in physics and related areas. The material presented is suitable for undergraduate level upwards and all members of the School are welcome to attend..