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Mike Edmunds MA PhD
Professor of Astrophysics, Cardiff University

Abstract: The Antikythera Mechanism Decoded
What may well be the most extraordinary surviving artefact from the ancient Greek world was discovered just over a century ago. Found in 1900 in a wreck off the coast of the Mediterranean island of Antikythera, the device contains over thirty gear wheels and dates from around 100 B.C. Now known as the Antikythera Mechanism, it is an order of magnitude more complicated than any surviving mechanism from the following millennium, and there is no surviving precursor. It is clear from its structure and inscriptions that it is an astronomical calculator, although its exact purpose is still shrouded in mystery. Over the past few years an international research programme has involved scientists from Greece, the UK and HP labs in Paolo Alto, California. The use of cutting-edge technology has revealed a great deal more about the structure, function and inscriptions of the Mechanism. This illustrated review will describe the modern research methods we have used, and the profound implications of the results for the development of ancient Greek astronomy, philosophy and technology.

Mike Edmunds M.A., Ph.D., FRAS, FInstP, CPhys, is currently a professor of astrophysics at Cardiff University, and a member of the Science and Technology Facilities Council of the UK. His research career has focussed on the chemical evolution of galaxies and the origin of interstellar dust.

In recent years he has been the academic lead of an international team investigating the ancient Greek astronomical calculator, the Antikythera Mechanism. He has a long history of strategic involvement in the provision and running of international observatory facilities. Strongly committed to public engagement with science, he is Chair of STFC.s Education and Outreach Advisory Panel and a consultant for the Higher Education Academy.

A frequent speaker and radio broadcaster on astronomy, he also occasionally appears in his one-man play as Sir Isaac Newton. He is a member of the Council of the Royal Astronomical Society.



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