Department of Classics

Mike Edmunds, Cardiff University: "The Antikythera Mechanism and the Mechanical Universe"

Fri, April 5, 2013 | Mezes Auditorium (MEZ 1.306)

4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Mike Edmunds, Cardiff University:

Perhaps the most extraordinary surviving relic from the ancient Greek world is a device containing over thirty gear wheels dating from the 1st century B.C., and now known as the Antikythera Mechanism. This device is an order of magnitude more complicated than any surviving mechanism from the following millennium, and there is no known precursor. It is clear from its structure and inscriptions that its purpose was astronomical, including eclipse prediction. In this illustrated talk, I will outline the results from our international research team, which has been using the most modern imaging methods to probe the device and its inscriptions. Our results show that ancient Greek mechanical design and technology were far more advanced than had been suspected in recent years. The existence of sophisticated mechanical representations of the Universe may also have had fundamental implications for the development of philosophy and cosmology in the Classical Era.

Dr. Edmunds is Professor Emeritus of Astrophysics at Cardiff University and former Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy. He was educated at Cambridge, but has lived and worked in Wales for over 35 years. His main research career involved the determination and interpretation of the abundances of the chemical elements in the Universe, and investigation of the origin of interstellar dust. Later work has partly focused on the history of astronomy, and on Science in Society activity. Mike is Chair of the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, Chair of the Astronomical Heritage Committee of the Royal Astronomical Society, a former member of two UK Research Councils (the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council and the Science and Technology Facilities Council), and can occasionally be seen in his one-man play about Newton "Sir Isaac Remembers...".

Sponsored by: Department of Classics

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