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The Discipline of Organizing: Core Concepts Edition, 3rd Edition by Robert J. Glushko

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11.11. The Antikythera Mechanism

By Murray Maloney, 2 March 2014.

Overview. In 1900, a strange looking mechanical device was recovered from a shipwreck off of the island of Antikythera, Greece. Only in the 1970s was it determined that the device was an ancient mechanical computer that performed astronomical calculations; it had a manual crank control with a rate of one turn per day, forward or backward in time; its user interface presented calendrical, solar, lunar, and planetary positions. The Antikythera Mechanism calculated the position of the moon by employing five gear trains to take into account the Metonic, Olympiad, Callipic, Saros, and Exeligmos cycles. Thus, it was able to predict the seasons, the dates of Olympiads, solar and lunar eclipses, and rising times of well-known stars.

The Antikythera Mechanism persists through time as a collection of artifacts and a model of intellectual achievement. Thought to have been constructed by Archimedes at Syracuse or by Posidonius at Rhodes, the mechanism was recovered from a ship wreck near the Greek island of Antikythera in 1900-1. The significance of the find only began to become apparent in the 1970s when researchers applied modern scanning technology.

What is being organized?  ...

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