June 7, 2014

Wearable submarine to hunt for 2000-year-old computer - June 7, 2014

A diver will fly around the wreck of an ancient Greek ship later this year, looking to shed light on the Antikythera mechanism.

The Antikythera was discovered by Greek sponge fishermen who found the shipwreck in October 1900. Attempts to explore the wreck resulted in recovery of many artifacts, mostly famously, one that is known as the Antikythera mechanism—now referred to as the world's oldest computer.

In the 1950s scholars figured out that the rusty metal pieces could be assembled into a sophisticated analogue computer for predicting astronomical events. They called it the Antikythera mechanism.

The world's most advanced robotic diving suit is getting ready to help search for one of the world's oldest computers.

Called Exosuit, the suit has a rigid metal humanoid form with Iron Man-like thrusters that enable divers to operate safely down to depths of 300 metres.They can go straight to the bottom, spend 5 hours there and come straight back to the surface with no decompression."

Earlier this month it underwent its first trials in seawater at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts. The tests are readying the suit for a daring attempt to excavate the ancient Roman shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera in the Aegean Sea.

The Exosuit is needed both because of the depth of the Antikythera wreck – it reaches 120 metres – the pressure was such that in 1900, the Greek sponge fishermen had only 5 minutes on the seabed before having to ascend. Several divers were paralysed and one died from decompression sickness.

The Antikythera mechanism pre-dates all other computing devices by over 1000 years. Its 30 bronze gears encoded ancient Greece's astronomical expertise, including the movements of the sun, moon, planets and stars. Operated by a hand crank, the mechanism would automatically calculate phases of the moon, eclipses and even the dates of upcoming Olympic Games.

The team believes that the Antikythera shipwreck still holds many secrets. A preliminary survey last year showed artefacts scattered over an area 50 metres by 10 metres, and even revealed a previously unknown shipwreck alongside the first one.

Read full story here and here and watch video Deep-Diving Exosuit

Video: The fingerprints of a genius - The Antikythera Mechanism.

 

Video presentation of many artifacts found in the "Antikythera Shipwreck" (National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece.)

 

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