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Decoding the Heavens

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The bronze fragments of an ancient Greek device have puzzled scholars for more than a century after they were recovered from the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, where they had lain since about 80 BC. Now, using advanced imaging technology, scientists have solved the mystery of its intricate workings. Unmatched in complexity for a thousand years, the mechanism functioned as the worlds first analog computer, calculating the movements of the sun, moon, and planets through the zodiac. In Decoding the Heavens, Jo Marchant details for the first time the hundred-year quest to decode this ancient computer. Along the way she unearths a diverse cast of remarkable characters-ranging from Archimedes to Jacques Cousteau-and explores the deep roots of modern technology, not only in ancient Greece, but in the Islamic world and medieval Europe. At its heart, this is an epic adventure story, a book that challenges our assumptions about technology development through the ages while giving us fresh insights into history itself.
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Decoding the Heavens : A 2,000-Year-Old Computer--and the Century-Long Search to Discover Its Secrets

About the Author

Jo Marchant is a former editor for Nature magazine and the current editor for New Scientist . She traveled to Athens to research the Antikythera fragments, interviewing most of the people involved in the project. She lives in London.


Nature, 10/16/08 "[A] gripping and varied account...Fascinating final chapter." Nature, 10/16/08 [A] gripping and varied account Fascinating final chapter. " "Nature," 10/16/08 "[A] gripping and varied account...Fascinating final chapter." "Publishers Weekly," 1/26/09 "Marchant goes behind the scenes...[and] gives clear explanations of the questions and topics involved, including Greek astronomy and clockwork mechanisms...This globe-trotting, era-spanning mystery should absorb armchair scientists of all kinds." "Booklist," 2/15/09 "Science readers will be entranced by Marchant's vibrant depiction of the characters in this remarkable story of ancient technology." "Huffington Post," 2/14/09 "A fascinating new book...Clear prose...An intriguing journey into science, archaeology, and history...An intelligent account of what is apparently the world's first analog computer. The book and the story are well worth your time." "Nature," 10/16/08 "[A] gripping and varied account...Fascinating final chapter."

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