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Decoding the Heavens: A 2,000-Year-Old Computer -- and the Century-Long Search to Discover Its Secrets

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Decoding the Heavens: A 2,000-Year-Old Computer -- and the Century-Long Search to Discover Its Secrets Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"Marchant, editor of New Science, relates the century-long struggle of competing amateurs and scientists to understand the secrets of a 2000-year-old clock-like mechanism found in 1901 by Greek divers off the coast of Antikythera, a small island near Tunisia. With new research and interviews, Marchant goes behind the scenes of the National Museum in Athens, which zealously guarded the treasure while overlooking its importance; examines the significant contributions of a London Science Museum assistant curator who spent more than 30 years building models of the device; and the 2006 discoveries made by a group of modern researchers using state-of-the-art X-ray. Beneath its ancient, calcified surfaces they found 'delicate cogwheels of all sizes' with perfectly formed triangular teeth, astronomical inscriptions 'crammed onto every surviving surface,' and a 223-tooth manually-operated turntable that guides the device. Variously described as a calendar computer, a planetarium and an eclipse predictor,Marchant gives clear explanations of the questions and topics involved, including Greek astronomy and clockwork mechanisms. For all they've learned, however, the Antikythera mechanism still retains secrets that may reveal unknown connections between modern and ancient technology; this globe-trotting, era-spanning mystery should absorb armchair scientists of all kinds." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

In 1900, a group of divers and archaeologists salvaging an ancient ship fished out a corroded, fragmented box with Greek writing on it and bronze gearwheels arrayed with a sophistication unmatched until the Renaissance.

They had found the Antikythera Mechanism, an astronomical computer dating from about 80 B.C. that modeled the motions of the sun, the moon and possibly the planets,... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Synopsis:

The surprising story behind the 2,000-year-old Antikythera mechanism that challenges our assumptions about what ancient scientists knew, and the technological equipment they used to understand their world.

Synopsis:

Marchant details the 100-year quest to decode an ancient Greek computer device. This is the surprising story behind the 2,000-year-old mechanism that challenges modern assumptions about what ancient scientists knew, and the technological equipment they used to understand their world.

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.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780306817427
Author:
Marchant, Jo
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Subject:
General History
Subject:
General
Subject:
Ancient - Greece
Subject:
History
Subject:
Antiquities
Subject:
Greece Antiquities.
Subject:
Astronomical clocks -- Greece -- History.
Subject:
Astronomy, ancient
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
March 2009
Binding:
Hardcover
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
328
Dimensions:
8.30x5.80x1.30 in. 1.00 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Computers and Internet » Computers Reference » History and Society
Reference » Science Reference » General
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » Technology

Decoding the Heavens: A 2,000-Year-Old Computer -- and the Century-Long Search to Discover Its Secrets Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.50 In Stock
Product details 328 pages Da Capo Press - English 9780306817427 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Marchant, editor of New Science, relates the century-long struggle of competing amateurs and scientists to understand the secrets of a 2000-year-old clock-like mechanism found in 1901 by Greek divers off the coast of Antikythera, a small island near Tunisia. With new research and interviews, Marchant goes behind the scenes of the National Museum in Athens, which zealously guarded the treasure while overlooking its importance; examines the significant contributions of a London Science Museum assistant curator who spent more than 30 years building models of the device; and the 2006 discoveries made by a group of modern researchers using state-of-the-art X-ray. Beneath its ancient, calcified surfaces they found 'delicate cogwheels of all sizes' with perfectly formed triangular teeth, astronomical inscriptions 'crammed onto every surviving surface,' and a 223-tooth manually-operated turntable that guides the device. Variously described as a calendar computer, a planetarium and an eclipse predictor,Marchant gives clear explanations of the questions and topics involved, including Greek astronomy and clockwork mechanisms. For all they've learned, however, the Antikythera mechanism still retains secrets that may reveal unknown connections between modern and ancient technology; this globe-trotting, era-spanning mystery should absorb armchair scientists of all kinds." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,
The surprising story behind the 2,000-year-old Antikythera mechanism that challenges our assumptions about what ancient scientists knew, and the technological equipment they used to understand their world.
"Synopsis" by , Marchant details the 100-year quest to decode an ancient Greek computer device. This is the surprising story behind the 2,000-year-old mechanism that challenges modern assumptions about what ancient scientists knew, and the technological equipment they used to understand their world.
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