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08/20/2006 09:36 PM ID: 56422 Permalink   

Computers Before Christ? Candidate for World's Oldest Computer Found


Scientists believe they are beginning to unlock the mysteries of an object known as the Antikythera mechanism, which spent over 2000 years at the bottom of the sea. So complex is the device, it is being called the world's oldest computer.

Heavily fortified with calcium and other waste deposits from its former ocean grave, the bronze device is a mesh of cogs, gears, and dials, apparently designed to work together in predicting the positions of our solar system's celestial objects.

Scientists who continue to investigate the object are stunned that something so complex could be made in that era. "The skill with which it was made shows a level of instrument-making not surpassed until the Renaissance," said one scientist.

    WebReporter: Quantum1.5 Show Calling Card      
ASSESS this news: BLOCK this news. Reason:
ironically, it probably also gives you the ouput faster than modern
  by: HAVOC666     08/20/2006 09:45 PM     
  I saw this  
on the history channel. Got to love the Greeks and Romans.
  by: Emp3r0r     08/20/2006 10:09 PM     
  Been around for a few decades...  
but still interesting.
  by: Fiebre   08/20/2006 10:35 PM     
  And it doesn't give  
the "Blue Screen of Death" or require re-booting.
  by: walter3ca   08/20/2006 10:37 PM     
Not to pick nits, but if anything, you'd be rebooting this thing on a regular basis. I doubt this thing could run without someone manually resetting the mechanism regularly.
  by: Ec5618   08/20/2006 10:46 PM     
wish they can find more of them and know more details.
  by: DarkAngelJG     08/20/2006 11:19 PM     
Couldn't agree more. And I also agree it's probably faster than modern computers, and ironically it's probably remained spyware free for the last 2000 years, when my PC can't even remain free of that crap for 5 minutes.
  by: NicPre     08/21/2006 02:45 AM     
Could it be a relic from this ancient civilization.
  by: Drudge   08/21/2006 03:45 AM     
  @ Drudge  
That is the first thing that popped into my head. I've always been sceptical, but this leads me to see perhaps... perhaps a basis for the claims of Atlantis? I mean, it's incredible to find something that advanced, that's that old... Just amazing.
  by: NicPre     08/21/2006 04:32 AM     
  My 2 cents again  
I don't know if Atlantis existed as the stories tell. I really have no believe in either direction; there's no way we can know for sure. If anything, its become somewhat fictionalized, just like any 2000 + year old story.

However, I do believe with conviction that thousands of years ago, its likely we did have SOME civilizations that were advanced in ways we can't even fathom know. There could have been technologies so advanced, that even if we did uncover them, we wouldn't be able to figure out how to use them, or even realize that it was an advanced technology.

Look at how far we have come technologically in the past 100 years. All it takes is one breakthrough. Then consider that there are thousands of years BC that we have absolutely no documentation of, but at that time, humans were as intelligent as they are now. On top of that, they were more spiritually... gifted. At this time humans still possessed many higher senses that have de-evolved into nothing more than vestigial relics within humanity. So, it is completely possible for something like Atlantis to have developed.

So, for me, a find like this is very interesting, but definitely NOT stunning. I find it ironic that most scientists and doctors are some of the most close-minded people in the world.
  by: maverick7h     08/21/2006 04:59 AM     
  by: Emp3r0r     08/21/2006 06:14 AM     
What a schlock of romanticism and false assumption!

"However, I do believe with conviction that thousands of years ago, its likely we did have SOME civilizations that were advanced in ways we can't even fathom know."

There is more than ample evidence to indicate that there were NO civilizataions that were advanced in ways we couldn't fathom now. From the construction of the pyramids, to temples in ancient peru, nothing hints at an ultra advanced civilization. On the other hand there is plenty of evidence of poorly developed understandings of physiology, back breaking labor, and rampant disease.

"There could have been technologies so advanced, that even if we did uncover them, we wouldn't be able to figure out how to use them, or even realize that it was an advanced technology."

Again, this is mere romanticism - which is nice and all, but hardly realistic.

"Look at how far we have come technologically in the past 100 years. All it takes is one breakthrough."

This much is true.

"Then consider that there are thousands of years BC that we have absolutely no documentation of,"

Mostly because documentation was still in it's most primitive forms.

" but at that time, humans were as intelligent as they are now."

Intelligent - perhaps, although it could be argued they were more intelligent, just as it could be argued they were less. However, they were certainly less advanced, and less educated in general. Even the greatest minds had to invent the wheel, whereas later years we walk on the shoulders of those giants. However truly gifted individuals were as few and far between as they are now.

"On top of that, they were more spiritually... gifted. At this time humans still possessed many higher senses that have de-evolved into nothing more than vestigial relics within humanity."

Another romantic assumption that owes more to novels than to impericial observation. There is little to suggest people were more spiritually or astrally advanced then than they are now.

"So, it is completely possible for something like Atlantis to have developed."

Which is the end point of all this assumption and fancy dreamery - there is little to prove or suggest the existance of a civilization as advanced as Hollywoods version of atlantis - which I assume is what you are thinking of by your previous statements. Actual real life references to Atlantis can be counted on one hand, and refer only to an advanced civilization that probably rivaled the greeks - certainly not more than that.

  by: lauriesman     08/21/2006 06:46 AM     
"There is more than ample evidence to indicate that there were NO civilizataions that were advanced in ways we couldn't fathom now."

There is no evidence, only a lack of evidence.

And so what the hell is this machine then? If over two thousand years ago, they possessed technology, of any form, that we only acquired about 10-30 years ago (this machine is an example), then how is it so hard to believe that "over two thousand years ago" plus 200 years, that same civilization surpassed us in many ways?

"Mostly because documentation was still in it's most primitive forms. "

We've seen only primitive documentation, because that's all that could've survived. Also, the oldest documentations we have are only from a very few small areas of the world.

Most of our current history is being documented electronically. It is plausible to say that in a couple hundred years, nearly all of the information of our civilization will be documented electronically.

Assume, 3000 years from now, somewhere in between there was a major event. A world war, EMP disruption all over the world, a massive solar flare - lots of possibilities. If any of these things happen, humanity would have to rebuild its technologies from the ground up.

Basically, what I'm implying is, one way or the other, it is extremely likely that technology 3000 from now will have absolutely no way of retrieving data from say, a modern hard disk drive. If it could happen in the future, as it is likely too, than it is plausible to have happened in the past. You could say that thanks to our international collaboration and step-by-step technological progression, we will maintain all that electronic data through the future indefinitely. However, it is entirely possible that an ISOLATED civilization had a breakthrough in the past, never sharing it with the rest of the world before said civilization was lost, for whatever reason. We would have no way of recovering advanced histories, even if they did exist.

" However, they were certainly less advanced, and less educated in general."

Again, this is gathered from very limited information about very isolated parts of the world in very fragmented time periods. I'm not talking about 2000 years ago here. I'm talking about, say, 5000 years ago.

"Another romantic assumption that owes more to novels than to impericial observation. There is little to suggest people were more spiritually or astrally advanced then than they are now. "

This is just a blatantly inaccurate and under-educated statement on your part. There is very much research to suggest that the parts of our brain responsible for extra-sensory perception have become almost completely vestigial in most people, but had been considerably larger and more functional in the past. It is also been PROVEN that these parts of our brain grow larger over an extended period of time in a person who makes constant efforts to expand their spiritual awareness and abilities. Research the pineal gland, for example.

Also, although (publicly available) science has only in isolated cases managed to verify the spiritual (extra-sensory) capabilities of a human being, said advanced people, millions of them, have been able to validate these truths for themselves. For an anology, while Christians have blind unyielding faith, these people have learned to look God in the face. The first group of people only have hope (faith). They hope, they hope so hard, because they are AFRAID. They are afraid that death is permanent, they are afraid of retribution, they are afraid that they can't handle their own problems and need extra help. They hope because they are not advanced enough to go beyond hope, but they are too weak to give up on it. The second group of people KNOW. They understand reality and the universe in a way that is at least hundreds of years ahead of lagging conservative science (but that does not mean they are innaccurate), and they try to help others, but in the end, they don't give a shit about what you believe or refuse to believe, because eventually, one way or the other, you will be face to face with the truth. Besides, these people can get anything they want in life, while everyone else just struggles to make a dismal and unhappy living. There is clearly a large rift developing in the evolution of humanity.

I do not believe in Hollywood's Atlantis. I am really getting sick of you implying that all of my statements, based on years of thorough in-depth research and truth-seeking, are nothing more than ideas garnered from watching a movie. On that note, every post of yours I've ever read indicates that your scientific education extends no further than high-school textbooks (a rather weak source of information), and a Bible (a terribly mistranslated and inconsistant source of information). Your philosophical knowledge is non-existant. Also I get the impression that you feel no need, and have no desire, even refuse to ever learn an ounce of new informat
  by: maverick7h     08/21/2006 09:07 AM     
Also I get the impression that you feel no need, and have no desire, even refuse to ever learn an ounce of new information, ever again.

I do believe however, that it is likely an ancient civilization found a way to harness free-energy or a currently unknown form of energy, and was able to use it to benefit their society and accelerate their development, as compared to the rest of the world at the time. I also believe past cultures were able to tangibly benefit from their spiritual awareness to an extent that far exceeds the nearly useless religious dogmas of today.

Frankly, the more you say, the more I see you as an incredibly close-minded, pessimistic, hard-core conservative determinist (if you don't know what a determinist is, please look it up). So much so that I believe you may have gone through some traumatic event as a child and were never able to psychologically digest it. That would surely explain your personality archetype. Don't get me wrong - if such a thing ever happened to you, you truly have my condolences. But people should never stop trying to improve themselves.

I pity you. I pity you for whatever terrible thing may have happened to you. I pity you for the shallow and unfulfilling life you have had and will continue to live. I pity you for being unable to possibly ever learn to experience the happiness others have found. I pity you for the struggle you will face in accepting your own death. Most of all, I pity you because your raw intelligence is clearly above-average, yet you offer nothing to humanity, or even yourself. Instead, you waste your intellectual strength in putting yourself in the tiniest, tightest box you can manage, because you are so afraid of anything and everything that might be outside of that box. Let me tell you this. This is a 100% accurate statement: whatever is outside of your box, it is SOMETHING.

Have I made a personal attack on you? It would be hard to say I didn't. In fact, I did, but they are far from baseless. Additionally, I feel like you have made personal attacks on me. You clearly underestimate my intelligence, and the extent of my knowledge. You have no idea how many thousands of hours I've spent already in my life trying to increase my awareness. You also have no idea (though in your defense, you couldn't have) how quickly I absorb and retain information. I can simultaneously read 4 to 5 lines of text, in half the time it takes the average person to read one, and I remember it. These shortnews articles take me about 1.5 seconds to read. I know there's no way I can prove that to you, but it is true. This is augmented further by my comprehension skills, which is just a by-product of raw intelligence.

What makes it worst, by far, is that I wonder if you make these inaccurate assumptions about me because of my age. That to me is a truly stupid thing, but, again, it does fit your personality archetype. I may be completely wrong on that theory, but to be honest that might have been the biggest factor in what caused me to unleash these statements in these wee hours of the morning.

I make a very strong and conscious effort to keep my ego on a short leash. After all, I prefer friends over enemies. Unfortunately, post after post, you've managed to wear down that barrier to the point where it broke through. Tomorrow, I'll be fine and civil and humble again, but congratulations, you are the only person on shortnews to have ever managed this feat. *addition*. You are also the only person that has ever prompted me to write a post twice as long as shortnews is programmed to allow. I guess you could take it as a compliment, that I deem you so worthy of my time. /addition

And for the record, my biggest pet peeve is when somebody refers to a publicly-available scientific fact, or even an unproven theory, as nothing more than a "false assumption". Its like calling yourself stupid, in front of other people. Its laughable.

Have a great night. Really, I do mean it. One thing I am not, is a liar.
  by: maverick7h     08/21/2006 09:10 AM     
  WEll yeah but...  
See if a massive solar flare, war or famin or what ever wiped out our civilisation, then wouldn't our massive buildings, cars, trucks and man made lakes and so forth stay at least in rubble? And a question about the Pinial gland, i could not find (a quick google) a good proof link, just wanted to read up on it.
  by: TiggyFiggy   08/21/2006 09:54 AM     
  Your assumptions  
amuse me. Please, never take a career in psychoanalysis.

I pointed out to you that your romantic notion of a uber-intelligent civilization predating even ancient writings was just that, a romantic notion not borne out in any way by the evidence collected to this date.

IF a hypothesis cannot be borne out by fact, then it remains fantastical - no matter how strongly you believe in it.

FTR - I do not discount the possibility of extra-sensory perception, nor do I discount the abilities demonstrated by people who have mastered varies arts and disciplines that focus the energy of the body and mind to product almost 'magical' effects. In fact, the latter I honestly believe in myself - however these are not supernatural, but mundane manefestations of human ability.

You pity me? What a waste of pity, and what a superior attitude. You know so little about me, as reflected in your writings. I enjoy life - generally speaking - I thirst for knowledge, and strive at self improvement. How badly you miss the mark. Are you hurt because I poo-poo'ed your romantic notions?

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" - generally true, although not always, however "The simplest solution is most often the correct one" also holds.

People have sought Atlantis and other cities such as El Dorado and since man had a mind to dream, but scant evidence, and no location has ever been uncovered. Does that mean we shouldn't dream? No, but it does mean that in the cold hard light of day, it is increasingly unlikely that those places existed, or existed in the way we think or hope they did.

WRT this instrument? According to Michael Wright from the Science Museum of London, it probably dates from no older than the first century BC - the age of the wreck it was found in. Cicero himself comments about sophisticated devices that tracked the motion of the 5 planets that were known in that era - the planetarium at Rhodes and other devices rescued from Syracuse. Interestingly Cicero described these devices as quite complex - however until the discovery of the Antikythera mechanism they had been thought to be considerably less complex than contemporary geared devices.

If nothing else, this device prompts us to consider how common place such technology was, and whether the wrecked cargo ship possessed some special signficance.
  by: lauriesman     08/21/2006 10:06 AM     
  For the record though  
If all that your extensive research, and in-depth study of these issues has turned up is available from your posts in this thread, then you have seriously wasted your time.

You at once irk me, and amuse me - which is a strange dichotomy to experience. I want to iterate how many ways you are wrong in every statement you've made about my character, yet at the same time I wonder if it is worth the time, or if anything would be achieved by doing so.

Folly has many faces, which one has she turned toward either of us now?

I could spout of about my academic prowess too - Dux of my highschool, OP1 (top 2.7% of the state, though I never really applied myself). I was reading about microprocessor architechture, and programming computers from the age of 6. I have academic awards in English, Physics and Chemistry, and oddly enough - Film and Television production (well, it was an interesting elective and I had a spare subject to fill). I sauntered through college, and the only difficulty was motivation to work on material that was too easy to engage my interest. Like many of the readers and posters on here, I'm elligble for MENSA - but that is no distinction in itself. I consume readable material at a rate that precludes extended enjoyment - I honestly get sick/disappointed when I reach the end of each novel, on the basis of there being no more to read - the more I enjoyed it, the worse the disappointment. I really envy slow readers, who can take their time to absorb every nuance, and detail. To savor each moment laboriously, stretching each morsel into a meal.

It might also interest you to know that I'm a published author of poetry, and while I've never taken first prize, have been runner up in a number of poetry competitions. I enjoy writing the occasional short story when the muse grabs me.

You should be aware by now that I do my own research into topics that interest me. My current flavor lies in comparing original greek and hebrew words with their translation in different versions of the Bible, an interesting past time.

I've also my share of inventors designs stashed away from various periods of my life, none of which have ever seen so much as a chisel in construction.

The only thing I truly miss right now is being involved in the performing arts societies. I lack the confidence in my voice, and I severely lack the grace of the kind demanded in Sydney.
  by: lauriesman     08/21/2006 10:22 AM     
  Reindeer Flotilla  
Phoenicians, as an example of advanced ancient civilizations, were highly advanced masters of the sea long before most other people even considered burning out a log to make a canoe. Arabs, Egyptians, Messopotamians.... Chinese.... hell, so many cultures had so many things going on that most people don't know about.

So much has been lost due to neglect, natural disaster, pillaging.... we'll never know true history (unless we can develop time-travel televison).

This discovery will certainly add a bit of a stir to the computer class I am teaching.

This puts the whole 'invention' of the differential gear into rehab.

But, does the Antikythera mechanism play MP3s?
  by: theironboard     08/21/2006 10:39 AM     
Pineal :p

If you do a search on it, you are bound to find lots of spirituality sites about how Descartes called it the seat of the soul, and how it atrophies from teen years onwards, and that you can use meditation and mantras to redevelop it into a powerful psychic organ.

Of course, none of these sites are actually scientific in any way, but that shouldn't stop you looking :p
  by: lauriesman     08/21/2006 10:44 AM     
The newest analysis indicates that there actually is no differential gear inside the Antikythera mechanism - the gears originally identified as a differential arrangement are now believed to be two gears in an elliptical orbit arrangement (which is pretty complex, just the same).
  by: lauriesman     08/21/2006 10:47 AM     
  I kind of agree with mav and tib  
we shouldn't assume things... ancients have done quite A LOT compared to this day and age...many of the things we use today are linked back to their discoveries and hard work!
as tib said (the time travel tv!) we can't really know or judge what was going on, and egyptians rocked!
=P ;)
  by: DarkAngelJG     08/21/2006 12:02 PM     
  Well it was  
A similer view that the acients knew more that led people belive that the universe circled the earth or the crazy 50 something crystal spheres (I think spheres) that held all the planets in place that was proposed by Aristrotle. Indeed some people at the time belived that planets circles the sun in a circuler (not right but far closer) orbit to the sun but they lost out to people who know better (but were wrong)
  by: TiggyFiggy   08/21/2006 02:01 PM     
  I more than agree with Mav and TIB  
because of your history here, lauriesman.

You have a long history of baseless personal attacks on other people just because their opinion/education/beliefs/morals differ from your ultraconservative views.

Please, next time--just take it to whisper.
  by: vanillaskye   08/21/2006 04:41 PM     
  A truly sad day.  
Although it is completely out of character for me to defend the arrogance of lauriesman I don't think others here are as innocent or as knowledgeable as claimed.
  by: Emp3r0r     08/21/2006 05:32 PM     
  I have to agree with lauriesman in some respects  
If we had not lost all of the knowledge of the classic world, we would be 1000 years more advanced today. We only reaquired the knowledge in the last few hundred years that they had 2 thousand years ago. Some may say "No way" but here are several examples. This device here is one, the baghdad battery is another, steam power, and many more discoveries. Even simple things such as Galen work into human anatomy was lost. He used surgical tools that were literaly identical to todays modern ones. If it werent for several variables such as the Alexandria Library fire, the dark ages and several more things, Man would be much more technologically advanced today. So I am sure there are many more things similar to this article that we are unaware of their use 2000+ years ago and are only just now rediscovering them in the last few hundred years.
  by: slavefortheman     08/21/2006 05:51 PM     
Don't forget the Archimedes claw or death ray!
  by: Emp3r0r     08/21/2006 06:12 PM     
  might I point out..  
There is a civilization that has a more or less existed in some form or another for the past 5000 years. It's in the East, you might have heard of it. Certainly it has had its share of periods of stagnation but still, take a look there and you get a pretty good idea that lauriesman is correct. Some of the accomplishments of the ancients are certainly impressive but the fact is that we're much more advanced now than they ever were. Part of the problem is that historians are not technology experts and they exaggerate the level of technological sophistication. A good, fairly modern, example of this is Japanese swords. Historians give it an almost mystical property, say that the methods are lost and give an impression that it's better than what we do now. Well, I guess no one bothered to ask a modern metallurgist what s/he could do if they set out to make a kick ass sword.
  by: bane39   08/21/2006 06:42 PM     
  Yes there are many other points  
Even today with our engineered wheat and fertilizers we still cannot match the wheat harvested per square meter that the ancient celts did. So its not just technology that we are just finding. Its also the agriculture and also exploration facts. And bane39 Im glad you mentioned the east. China's Zheng He was sailing his giant treasure ships to africa way before columbus sailed to america. The chinese possibly could have made contact with europe before the euros made contact with china if it were not for the emperors closing china up. I mean so many interesting things have hppened that we are now just finding. The norse beat columbus to america by almost a hundred years earlier. The reason why they still dont teach this last one in public schools is beyond me...
  by: slavefortheman     08/21/2006 09:41 PM     
"The reason why they still dont teach this last one in public schools is beyond me... "

They do. Or at least they did when I was there.
  by: Emp3r0r     08/21/2006 09:54 PM     
Really wow! I never heard one word about it in school. And that was only about 7 years ago. Must be my school district.
  by: slavefortheman     08/21/2006 10:23 PM     
when was the last time one of the great pyramids was duplicated... by modern civilization... its a known fact that those three pyramids have a shaft running from the basement out through the top end on one side and corralates with a constelation. i also find it odd that they are alligned just as orion's belt, doubtfully coincidential.

archimedes death ray was another one... the ability to burn a ship before it reaches your shores using solar power (to my knowledge we've not duplicated this yet)... the mythbuster only had a slight success at it... though what they lacked was scale.
  by: HAVOC666     08/21/2006 10:43 PM     
Building a pyramid and the ship burning deathray thing are purely engineering problems. They are not technology problems. We can definitely do it now... but the why would we? Hell... we could build a giant inverted pyramid aligned with the flow of global internet traffic if we choose to. Someone just needs to hire an engineering company and pay them the money to figure it out.

Pyramids is another good example of where historians tend to exaggerate. They make a big deal about some of the math related to the pyramids, including the height to width ratio. Actually the ratio can be figured out just using a carpenters triangle. Sure the astronomical math was impressive back then but it isn't anything we can't do now.

I certainly don't mean to belittle the accomplishments of the ancients but let's keep things in perspective. We're at a point now where we can travel to Mars if the money and the will is there. The technology is certainly available. Can you say that about any period in the past?
  by: bane39   08/21/2006 10:57 PM     
Archimede's death ray is likely a myth. There's no way to build a mirror device to reflect heat energy from the sun in a manner that would ignite ships at any distance that would be useful in the defense of a city.

You could certainly build something that would be useful in blinding attacking ships, maybe making some of them crash into one another, but there's just no way that ships at any distance that were moving would spontaneously combust because of mirrors.
  by: Dedolito     08/22/2006 02:12 AM     
"Even today with our engineered wheat and fertilizers we still cannot match the wheat harvested per square meter that the ancient celts did. "

Source? I find this "fact" dubious at best. Farmers during the Cultural Revolution in China claimed epic harvests as well. There's even footage of these fields of grain where the wheat was so thick that the farmers could walk across the top.

Except that is was all a fake. Very complex social reasons, but in the end it was due to national pride and such practices directly lead to the stravation of millions.

Moral of the story: don't believe everything you read.
  by: Dedolito     08/22/2006 02:21 AM     
MIT got the death ray to work.
  by: Emp3r0r     08/22/2006 05:05 AM     
  Another consideration  
in regards to the construction and use of the "death ray" (should really be called a heat ray) is one of simple practicality - any device made of mirrors like that would be vulnerable to damage, and require such precise crafting as to make it almost prohibitive.

Then there is the issue of focusing, and the materials required.
  by: lauriesman     08/22/2006 05:19 AM     
Yes, I know. Yet 129 hand aimed mirrors in their first run was unable to cause a blaze despite trying for over a half hour.

Later they tried again with 127 mirrors that were precisely and laboriously set up & aimed at a stationary target. This actually worked, but it took 10 minutes for the blaze to start and the distance was only 100 feet.

To be a feasible weapon, this thing would have to work at much greater distances, an order of magnitude really, and it would have to be aimed much quicker than the careful individual alignment of each mirror would really allow for.

And this assumes your target is going to hold still for you. I suspect that even the gentle bobbing up and down of a moored ship would be enough to seriously prolong, if not completely prevent, ignition of the wood. An attacking ship? Not a chance.

And even IF it were, you would have to ignite the wood very, very fast. At 100 feet, the earth rotates fast enough to move your target 6 inches a minute. At 150, it moves 10 inches. The further your target, the more your focused beam moves per unit time. Then you would have to realign all the mirrors again to compensate.

It also assumes that no passing cloud, even the thinnest wisp of a cloud, passes by while your device “fires”. Speaking of which, even if this thing WERE to have worked, and they were able to set a boat on fire, that in itself would be the end of the thing’s functionality, as the smoke in the air above and the general haze would be more than enough to prevent a second “firing”

No, I suspect that Archimedes had a functional prototype (vs. stationary targets) that he impressed folks with, and that in and of itself could have easily been a deterrent to an attack (not to mention working it’s way into the history). But in reality the difficulty that would arise from having to attempt aim & steady a multitude of constant coherent beams of light at a moving target would be too much to coordinate.
  by: Dedolito     08/22/2006 07:58 AM     
Not too mention that intensity is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from light source to target - and we're talkign at least several hundred meters here.
  by: lauriesman     08/22/2006 08:06 AM     
  @Anyone who doubts an ancient/advanced civil...  
Have any of you heard of the Piri Reis Map? Google it.

The map causes controversy because it shows the coastline of Antartica BEFORE an ice cap was present. If modern science knows anything, that shouldn't be possible.
  by: Daev     08/22/2006 08:10 PM     
come on no one said the death ray worked perfectly the city was sacked and Archimedes killed. But you know as well as i that there is an element of truth to many myths.
  by: Emp3r0r     08/22/2006 08:16 PM     
i doubt find that hard to believe...

not considering this of of the north pole
  by: HAVOC666     08/22/2006 08:21 PM     
  no granted  
thats was a long damn time ago... but it happened and thus is possible.
  by: HAVOC666     08/22/2006 08:23 PM     
  as i stated before  
scale is the problem 127/129 mirrors isn't what i picture of a deathray, but rather a coastline riddled with giant bronze mirror, concaved mirrors would of course work best, as it bowls in the light and has a more focused energy output.

i'm rather certian archimedes knew this and probably utilized this... flat mirrorrs while easier to make aren't as suited to the job... flat mirror were mostly what was used by the mythbusters... they had great success with the parabolic mirror, however it only worked at a specific distance, although it worked impressively fast on its own...

i firmly believe a deathray would be rather easy to make... personally though i'd try to combine a magnifying glass to the rim of the parabolic mirror... i'm betting you'd get a hotter more focused beam.
  by: HAVOC666     08/22/2006 08:33 PM     
Actually I didnt read it. I saw it on a documentary on the history channel about the celts and druids.
  by: slavefortheman     08/22/2006 08:40 PM     
you would also need a real ship to sink the one on myth busters was little more then a dingy.

There is at least on real trireme.
  by: Emp3r0r     08/22/2006 08:48 PM     
the problem with a concave mirror is that you self-limit the effective distance with it. There is a point in which the light point converges, then it spreads out again much, much more rapidly than the standard inverse that a flat mirror would have.

A coastline riddled would be utterly ineffective. How do you propose those thousands of individual points be aimed? Each one percicly calibrated to the exact same target point? Hand aiming would not cut it.

Again, the problem with this fabled device is distance and aiming. First, the target would have be be nearly perfectly placed to begin with, at the right distance between enough of the mirrors. Because the distance of your target would have to be an unknown in a battle situation, flat mirrors would actually tend to work better than concave.

Second, the range at which such a device would be operational is well within bow range, and takes much too long to work up. Your technicians scurrying about would be easy pickings.

Third you couldn't meaningfully keep a coherent beam on a target unless it was rock solid still.

Forth, the very rotation of the earth preculdes the ability to keep a coherent beam on a specified target at what would be a useful distance.

Fifth, the more mirrors you have (presumably increasing your effectivness), the more difficult it becomes to realign enough of the mirrors to cause damage.

No, I think it's a flight of fancy to belive this device was every deployed in a meaningful manner. It was a cool concept, and I'm sure the prototype worked to the amazement of the senate, but as a functional, working weapon it would be too cumbersome to use and too self-limiting to be effective.

  by: Dedolito     08/22/2006 08:54 PM     
as usual your right... although thats was an irrelevant point in proving whether or not it was possible to begin with.

i've noticed a number of mistakes on their show...

anyone catch the brown note???

it worked (though not as intended) yet they did it wrong... they had adam encircle in speaker playing the same sound from the same distance... which would in a sense cancel each other out, however the people that weren't centered all felt nausious... you can't do a test like brown note using sound in a 360 degree array.

i should be a mythbuster... i'd love that shit.
  by: HAVOC666     08/22/2006 09:00 PM     
  no pun intended at the  
  by: HAVOC666     08/22/2006 09:00 PM     
Pardon me then for remaining skeptical of your claim then until you can provide a verifiable source.

I know that the many early civilizations of that area made some pretty amazing - for their time - improvements to agriculture. Mostly in terms of irrigation, drainage, and land reclimation. This lead to some very bountiful harvests and propserous societies. Their techniques, no matter how ingenious for thier period, don't hold a candle to modern farming techniques with our GE crops, our tractors, our earth tillers, our harvesters. That doesn't take away from what they learned to do, which is why their methods are worthy of praise even today where some of the basic principles they uncovered are still utilized.
  by: Dedolito     08/22/2006 09:03 PM     
  You mean this map?

The Piri Reis map is believed to be an amalgam of a number of other maps - including maps made by Columbus, portguese explorers and spanish explorers.

The problem with researching the Piri Reis map and other detailed maps like it is that most sites that discuss how amazing it is inevitably going haring off on Atlantean goose chases, start stringing together the flimsiest pieces (a lot of it out of date) and making grand assertions about Atlantis.

For the record, I do believe in a highly advanced civilization in the past - heck, the Bible speaks of it as well! However, there is no solid evidence that such a civilization existed. Every discovery of Atlantis has been insufficient, and there have been many, all over the world from the mediteranean to the mid-altantic.

I believe that humans once spoke a different, uniform language, and possessed well advanced scientific knowledge, but I see no need to ascribe mystical or mythical attributes to such a civilization.

Consider - we have recovered pots, urns, statues, and all manner of household items from these ruins uncovered in the search for atlantis - but not a single vehicle, which surely would survive as long, or longer than a simple urn?
  by: lauriesman     08/22/2006 09:14 PM     
yes concave are distance spefic but much more powerful when they are appropriately placed, flat mirror would be ideal for the bulk off the mirror, and when i say shore riddle with mirrors i mean more as long formations of closely held mirrors held at varying heights along the shore... and this would probably consist of any person willing to help archimede's, surely more than 129, i'd hope to defend from invaders... and being the bright guy he was i'm sure he had some adjustable stationary deathrays.
  by: HAVOC666     08/22/2006 09:46 PM     
I also think that we have to take into account the frame of reference for "advanced." Advanced to whom? Advanced to us in the modern day? Advanced to the west during the dark ages? Advanced to the Greeks at the height of their power? Advanced to civilizations of pre-history?

The time era from which these stories of advanced civilizations arose were not terribly technological times. "Advanced" from that frame of reference does not need to mean "advanced" compared to modern day. Hell, in many respects the Greeks and the Egyptians were very advanced civilizations compared to Europe thru the Dark Ages. They were also more primitive in other respects, but overall I think it fair to say that the civilizations were more advanced in most technological respects.

This doesn't mean that the Greeks and Egyptians were advanced compared to modern technology, circa 1950+

Technological advance requires periods of peace where discovery can be built on top of discovery for generations. When war or distaster or disease comes through and wipes out a civilization, the advancements that civilzation made are also destroyed and as a whole mankind has to start over at square one.

It's a sign of the degree of "advancment" a civilization has that discoveries can pass to the rest of humanity such that if any one part gets destroyed the knowledge is not lost.

Also, advanced technology leads to prosperity. Prosperity creates population booms. Colonization, imperialism, spreading of the human scourge, however you want to say it. If a civilization more technoogically advanced than modern man existed, it wouldnt not be a challenge to find evidence of their time here on Earth. they would have spread, much like we in the modern day have, to all corners of the globe. We'd find evidence of their passing everywhere. We wouldn't have spent 2000 years or so seeking for the evidence, it would be all around us.

I suspect Atlastis existed in some form somewhere, and it was probably a very nice, reasonably advanced - for its time - place. But in the telling of its story it got embellished to the point where it became the mythical, even mystical, city of advanced technology that facinates pop culture today.
  by: Dedolito     08/22/2006 09:48 PM     
I agree, like I said - why can we find pottery but we cant find a vehicle? For that matter, why can we find pottery - surely a hyper advanced civilization would have been using plastics and advanced polymer technologies? Perhaps they developed plastics that biodegrade and it all rotted away?

There's always a fly in the ointment.
  by: lauriesman     08/22/2006 10:10 PM     
'yes concave are distance spefic but much more powerful when they are appropriately placed,"

That therein is the problem with this device. You can "appropriatly place" your mirrors to your heart's content. Getting your target perfectly within range at the point of effectivness, and getting him to stay there for the required minutes for ignition isn't a luxury you have on the field of battle where everything is in constant motion. Unless you expect your enemy to come in single file for you, and each pause at the exact distance required for a concave to work, it's not that feasible of a weapon.

"long formations of closely held mirrors held at varying heights along the shore"

I hope you don't mean hand-held, for the degree of precision required for this device to work, even at short range, is beyond our ability to aim by hand.

Consider -- how would any one person be able to tell if thier mirror was out of line on a target in the distance? Even at 100 feet it obviously becomes infesible to aim a hundred beams of light onto a small enough target to ignite.

No, you'd need arrays like MIT used where all the mirrors are already precision placed and trained techs in charge of running about making minute changes. This takes some skill at math. How many people in ancient greece could do the needed calculations to align the mirrors correctly? Certainly not enough to constantly calibrate enough devices to "riddle the coastline" with such devices.

According to the story there was only one of these devices anyway, with only Archimedes himself doing the aiming. I can see him getting a single shot off with the device, on an anchored ship, that was up close to the device. I suppose the panic that would have been caused would have done a number on the invaders, but destroying an entire battle fleet at range just isn't in the cards for a device like this.
  by: Dedolito     08/22/2006 10:12 PM     
Though, anything's possible. I think we've all watched a little too much stargate.
  by: robplatt   08/22/2006 10:24 PM     
  more mythbusting is needed  
i'm a firm believer that it can be done... whether or not it was done is up for debate.

its not a practical weapon but if engineered well enough i'm sure you could ignite a ship, hell you wouldn't even reall have to ignite wood so much as start a fire on the boat... for one if the ship has sails, sails are made of cloth and can more easily be set ablaze. at the very least this would slow the invading army.
  by: HAVOC666     08/22/2006 10:30 PM     
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