How to Decode NASA’s Message to Aliens

When NASA spent close to a billion dollars on the Voyager program, launching a pair of probes from Cape Canaveral in 1977, its primary purpose was not to find intelligent extra-terrestrial life. The program grew out of ambitions for a “Grand Tour”: four robotic probes that would visit all the planets in the outer solar system, taking advantage of a 175-year alignment of Jupiter and Saturn. A downsized version produced Voyager 1 and 2, each craft “a miniature marvel,” writes the Attic. “Weighing less than a Volkswagen, each had 65,000 parts. Six thrusters powered by plutonium. Three gyroscopes. Assorted instruments to measure gravity, radiation, magnetic fields, and more. Design and assembly took years.”

Since reaching Jupiter in 1979, the two probes have sent back astonishing images from the great gas giants and the very edges of the solar system. “By 2030, Voyager 1 and 2 will cease communications for good,” says Cory Zapatka in the Verge Science video above, “and while they won’t be able to beam information back to Earth, they’re going to continue sailing through space at almost 60,000 kilometers per hour,” reaching interstellar unknowns their makers will never see. Voyager 1 was only supposed to last 10 years. In 2012, it left the solar system, to drift, along with its twin, “endlessly among the stars of our galaxy,” Timothy Ferris writes in The New Yorker, “unless someone or something encounters them someday.”


As deep space detritus, the probes will make excellent carriers for an interstellar message in a bottle, the Voyager team reasoned. The idea prompted the creation of the Golden Record, an LP fitted to each probe containing a message from humanity to the cosmos. “Etched in copper, plated with gold, and sealed in aluminum cases, the records are expected to remain intelligible for more than a billion years, making them the longest-lasting objects ever crafted by human hands.” Produced by Ferris and overseen by Carl Sagan and a team including his future wife, Ann Druyan, the Golden Record includes the work of Mozart, Chuck Berry, folk music from around the world, the sounds of waves and whales, and one of the most universal of human sounds, laughter (likely that of Sagan himself).

The Golden Record also includes 115 images, etched into its very surface. No, they are not digital files. “There are no jpegs or tifs included on it,” says Zapatka. After all, “The Voyager’s computer systems were only 69 kilobytes large, barely enough for one image, let alone 115.” These are analog still photographs and diagrams that must be reconstructed with mathematical formulae extracted from electronic tones. The process starts with the diagrams on the record’s cover — simple icons that contain an incredible density of information. We begin with two circles joined by a line. They are hydrogen atoms, the most plentiful gas in the universe, undergoing a change that occurs spontaneously once every 10 million years.

During this rare occurrence, the hydrogen atoms emit energy at wavelengths of 21 centimeters. This measurement is used as “a constant for all the other symbols on the record.” That’s an awful lot of background knowledge required to decipher what look to the scientifically untrained eye like a pair of tiny eyes behind a pair of odd eyeglasses. But for spacefaring aliens, “how hard could that be?” says Bill Nye above in an abridged description of how to decode the Golden Record. We may never, in a billion years, know if any extra-terrestrial species ever finds the record and makes the attempt. But the Golden Record has become as much an object of fascination for humans as it is a greeting from Earth to the galaxy. Learn more from NASA here about the images encoded on the Golden Record and order your own reproduction (on LP or CD) here.

Related Content: 

Carl Sagan Sent Music & Photos Into Space So That Aliens Could Understand Human Civilization (Even After We’re Gone)

NASA Lets You Download Free Posters Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Voyager Missions

Carl Sagan Warns Congress about Climate Change (1985)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Charles and Ray Eames’ Powers of Ten Updated to Reflect Our Modern Understanding of the Universe

We’ve experienced some mindblowing technological advances in the years following designers Charles and Ray Eames’ 1977 film Powers of Ten: A Film Dealing with the Relative Size of Things in the Universe and the Effect of Adding Another Zero.

Cryptocurrency

Segways

E-cigarettes

And y’know, all sorts of innovative strides in the fields of medicinecommunications, and environmental sustainability.

In the above video for the BBC, particle physicist Brian Cox pays tribute to the Eames’ celebrated eight-and-a-half-minute documentary short, and uses the discoveries of the last four-and-a-half decades to kick the can a bit further down the road.


The original film helped ordinary viewers get a handle on the universe’s outer edges by telescoping up and out from a one-meter view of a picnic blanket in a Chicago park at the rate of one power of ten every 10 seconds.

Start with something everybody can understand, right?

At 100 (102) meters — slightly less than the total length of an American football field, the picnickers become part of the urban landscape, sharing their space with cars, boats at anchor in Lake Michigan, and a shocking dearth of fellow picnickers.

One more power of 10 and the picknickers disappear from view, eclipsed by Soldier Field, the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum and other longstanding downtown Chicago institutions.

At 1024 meters — 100 million light years away from the starting picnic blanket, the Eames butted up against the limits of the observable universe, at least as far as 1977 was concerned.

They reversed direction, hurtling back down to earth by one power of ten every two seconds. Without pausing for so much as handful of fruit or a slice of pie, they dove beneath the skin of a dozing picnicker’s hand, continuing their journey on a cellular, then sub-atomic level, ending inside a proton of a carbon atom within a DNA molecule in a white blood cell.

It still manages to put the mind in a whirl.

Sit tight, though, because, as Professor Cox points out, “Over 40 years later, we can show a bit more.”

2021 relocates the picnic blanket to a picturesque beach in Sicily, and forgoes the trip inside the human body in favor of Deep Space, though the method of travel remains the same — exponential, by powers of ten.

1013 meters finds us heading into interstellar space, on the heels of Voyagers 1 and 2, the twin spacecrafts launched the same year as the Eames’ Powers of Ten — 1977.

Having achieved their initial objective, the exploration of Jupiter and Saturn, these spacecrafts’ mission was expanded to Uranus, Neptune, and now, the outermost edge of the Sun’s domain. The data they, and other exploratory crafts, have sent back allow Cox and others in the  scientific community to take us beyond the Eames’ outermost limits:

At 1026 meters, we switch our view to microwave. We can now see the current limit of our vision. This light forms a wall all around us. The light and dark patches show differences in temperature by fractions of a degree, revealing where matter was beginning to clump together to form the first galaxies shortly after the Big Bang. This light is known as the cosmic microwave background radiation. 

1027 meters…1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Beyond this point, the nature of the Universe is truly uncharted and debated. This light was emitted around 380,000 years after the Big Bang. Before this time, the Universe was so hot that it was not transparent to light. Is there simply more universe out there, yet to be revealed? Or is this region still expanding, generating more universe, or even other universes with different physical properties to our own? How will our understanding of the Universe have changed by 2077? How many more powers of ten are out there?

According to NASA, the Voyager crafts have sufficient power and fuel to keep their “current suite of science instruments on” for another four years, at least. By then, Voyager 1 will be about 13.8 billion miles, and Voyager 2 some 11.4 billion miles from the Sun:

In about 40,000 years, Voyager 1 will drift within 1.6 light-years (9.3 trillion miles) of AC+79 3888, a star in the constellation of Camelopardalis which is heading toward the constellation Ophiuchus. In about 40,000 years, Voyager 2 will pass 1.7 light-years (9.7 trillion miles) from the star Ross 248 and in about 296,000 years, it will pass 4.3 light-years (25 trillion miles) from Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. The Voyagers are destined—perhaps eternally—to wander the Milky Way.

If this dizzying information makes you yearn for 1987’s simple pleasures, this Wayback Machine link includes a fun interactive for the original Powers of Ten. Click the “show text” option on an exponential slider tool to consider the scale of each stop in historic and tangible context.

via Aeon

Related Content:

Carl Sagan’s “The Pale Blue Dot” Animated

Watch Powers of Ten and Let Designers Charles & Ray Eames Take You on a Brilliant Tour of the Universe

Watch Oscar-Nominated Documentary Universe, the Film that Inspired the Visual Effects of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 and Gave the HAL 9000 Computer Its Voice (1960)

Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

The Amazing Engineering of James Webb Telescope

If you want to see the current height of technology, you could do worse than taking a look at the James Webb Space Telescope. Millions have been doing just that over the past few weeks, given that this past Christmas Day witnessed the launch of that ten-billion-dollar NASA project a decade in the making. As the successor to the now-venerable Hubble Space Telescope, the JWST is designed to go much farther into outer space and thus see much further back in time, potentially to the formation of the first galaxies. If all goes well, it will give us what the Real Engineering video above calls a glimpse of the “early universe from which we and everything we know was born.”

But one does not simply glance skyward to see back 13.5 billion years. No, “the combination of technologies required to make the James Webb telescope possible are unique to this time period in human history.” These include the heat shield that will unfold to protect its sensitive components from the heat of the sun, to the onboard cryocooler that maintains the mid-infrared detection instrument (which itself will enable the viewing of many more stars and galaxies than previous telescopes) at a cool seven degrees Kelvin, to the array of gold-coated beryllium mirrors that can pick up unprecedented amounts of light.

However complicated the JWST’s development and launch, “the truly nerve-wracking process begins on day seven,” says the Real Engineering video’s narrator. At that point, with the satellite finding its precisely determined position 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, the heat shield begins unfolding, and “there are over 300 single points of failure in this unfolding sequence: 300 chances for a ten billion-dollar, 25-year project to end.” With that process underway as of this writing, the teeth of the project’s engineers are no doubt firmly embedded in their nails.

As it plays out, also-nervous fans of space exploration (who’ve had much to get excited about in recent years) might consider distracting themselves with the above episode of Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk. In it Tyson has in-depth discussions about the JWST’s conception, purpose, and potential with both NASA astronomer Natalie Batalha and filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn, whose documentary The Hunt for Planet B examines the JWST team’s “quest to find another Earth among the stars.” But let’s not get ahead of ourselves: even if the shield deploys without a hitch, there remains the not-untricky process of unfolding those mirrors. What we see through the telescope will no doubt change our ideas about humanity’s place in the universe — but if it functions as planned, we’ll have good reason to be pleased with human competence.

Related Content:

The Beauty of Space Photography

Free Interactive e-Books from NASA Reveal History, Discoveries of the Hubble & Webb Telescopes

How Scientists Colorize Those Beautiful Space Photos Taken By the Hubble Space Telescope

Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ Re-Created by Astronomer with 100 Hubble Space Telescope Images

NASA Enlists Andy Warhol, Annie Leibovitz, Norman Rockwell & 350 Other Artists to Visually Document America’s Space Program

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

The Brilliant 19th-Century Astronomical Drawings of Étienne Léopold Trouvelot


The first photo of the moon was taken in 1850 by Louis Daguerre, from whom the daguerrotype gets its name. We have no idea what that first image looked like as it was lost in a studio fire. But the need to catalog the heavens with modern tools had started, and was both fascinating as it was lacking. Into this evolution of science and art stepped Étienne Léopold Trouvelot, the French immigrant, living in the States, an amateur scientist and an illustrator. He would dismiss photography of the heavens as “so blurred and indistinct that no details of any great value can be secured.” And by illustrating instead by he saw through telescopes, he secured a place in art *and* science history.

Trouvelot might have thought his scientific papers would be his legacy. He wrote fifty in his lifetime. Instead it is his roughly 7,000 illustrations of planets, comets, and other phenomena that still please us to this day. The New York Public Library has put 15 of his best up on their site, and over at this page, you can compare what Trouvelot saw—-the great astronomer Emma Converse called Trouvelot the “prince of observers”—-to photos from NASA’s archive.


Even if his Mars is a bit fanciful, looking translucent like a fish egg, his understanding of the planet echoes in the following century of sci-fi paranoia. Something strange must be there, he suggests.

Harvard hired him to sketch at their college’s observatory, and he used pastels to bring the planets to life. Engraving or ink would not have worked as well as these soft shapes and determined lines. His rendering of the moon surface is accurate but also fanciful, like whipped cream. And his sun spots might not be accurate, but they replicated the god-like forces at work on its tumultuous surface. His Saturn is the most realistic of them all. Even the NASA image doesn’t look too different to Trouvelot’s art.

These images also help rehabilitate Trouvelot’s other legacy—-the dreaded Gypsy Moth. Before his stint as amateur scientist, he was also an amateur entomologist, and while researching silkworms and silk production, accidentally let European gypsy moths into North America, where they wreaked havoc on the forests of North America. Saturn’s rings may look the same back then as they do now, but so does the damage of the gypsy moth, which according to Wikipedia is up to $868 million in damages per year.

via Kottke

Related Content:

A 9th Century Manuscript Teaches Astronomy by Making Sublime Pictures Out of Words

Jocelyn Bell Burnell Changed Astronomy Forever; Her Ph.D. Advisor Won the Nobel Prize for It

A 16th-Century Astronomy Book Featured “Analog Computers” to Calculate the Shape of the Moon, the Position of the Sun, and More

Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the Notes from the Shed podcast and is the producer of KCRW’s Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

17th Century Scientist Gives First Description of Alien Life: Hear Passages from Christiaan Huygens’ Cosmotheoros (1698)

Astrobiologists can now extrapolate the evolutionary characteristics of possible alien life, should it exist, given the wealth of data available on interplanetary conditions. But our ideas about aliens have drawn not from science but from what Adrian Horton at The Guardian calls “an engrossing feedback loop” of Hollywood films, comics books, and sci-fi novels. A little over three-hundred years ago — having never heard of H.G. Wells or the X-Files — Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens answered the question of what alien life might look like in his work Cosmotheoros, published after his death in 1698.

Everyone knows the names Galileo and Isaac Newton, and nearly everyone knows their major accomplishments, but we find much less familiarity with Huygens, even though his achievements “make him the greatest scientist in the period between Galileo and Newton,” notes the Public Domain Review.


Those achievements include the discovery of Saturn’s rings and its moon, Titan, the invention of the first refracting telescope, a detailed mapping of the Orion Nebula, and some highly notable advancements in mathematics. (Maybe we — English speakers, that is — find his last name hard to pronounce?)

Huygens was a revolutionary thinker. After Copernicus, it became clear to him that “our planet is just one of many,” as scholar Hugo A. van den Berg writes, “and not set apart by any special consideration other than the accidental fact that we happen to be its inhabitants.” Using the powers of observation available to him, he theorized that the inhabitants of Jupiter and Saturn (he used the term “Planetarians”) must possess “the Art of Navigation,” especially “in having so many Moons to direct their Course…. And what a troop of other things follow from this allowance? If they have Ships, they must have Sails and Anchors, Ropes, Pillies, and Rudders…”

“We may well laugh at Huygens,” van den Berg writes, “But surely in our own century, we are equally parochial in our own way. We invariably fail to imagine what we fail to imagine.” Our ideas of aliens flying spacecraft already seem quaint given multiversal and interdimensional modes of travel in science fiction. Huygens had no cultural “feedback loop.” He was making it up as he went. “In contrast to Huygens’ astronomical works, Cosmotheoros is almost entirely speculative,” notes van den Berg — though his speculations are throughout informed and guided by scientific reasoning.

To undermine the idea of Earth as special, central, and unique, “a thing that no Reason will permit,” Huygens wrote — meant posing a potential threat to “those whose Ignorance or Zeal is too great.” Therefore, he willed his brother to publish Cosmotheoros after his death so that he might avoid the fate of Galileo. Already out of favor with Louis XIV, whom Huygens had served as a government scientist, he wrote the book while back at home in The Hague, “frequently ill with depressions and fevers,” writes the Public Domain Review. What did Huygens see in his cosmic imagination of the sailing inhabitants of Jupiter and Saturn? Hear for yourself above in a reading of Huygens’ Cosmotheoros from Voices of the Past.

Huygens’ descriptions of intelligent alien life derive from his limited observations about human and animal life, and so he proposes the necessity of human-like hands and other appendages, and rules out such things as an “elephant’s proboscis.” (He is particularly fixated on hands, though some alien humanoids might also develop wings, he theorizes.) Like all alien stories to come, Huygens’ speculations, however logically he presents them, say “more about ourselves,” as Horton writes, “our fears, our anxieties, our hope, our adaptability — than any potential outside visitor.” His descriptions show that while he did not need to place Earth at the center of the cosmos, he measured the cosmos according to a very human scale.

Related Content:

What Do Aliens Look Like? Oxford Astrobiologists Draw a Picture, Based on Darwinian Theories of Evolution

Carl Sagan Sent Music & Photos Into Space So That Aliens Could Understand Human Civilization (Even After We’re Gone)

Richard Feynman: The Likelihood of Flying Saucers

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Jocelyn Bell Burnell Changed Astronomy Forever; Her Ph.D. Advisor Won the Nobel Prize for It

A few years back, we highlighted a series of articles called The Matilda Effect — named for the feminist Matilda Joslyn Gage, whose 1893 essay “Woman as an Inventor” inspired historians like Cornell University’s Margaret Rossiter to recover the lost histories of women in science. Those histories are important not only for our understanding of women’s contributions to scientific advancement, but also because they tell us something important about ourselves, whoever we are, as filmmaker Ben Proudfoot suggests in his “Almost Famous” series of short New York Times documentaries.

Proudfoot casts a wide net in the telling, gathering stories of an unknown woman N.B.A. draftee, a would-be first Black astronaut who never got to fly, a man who could have been the “next Colonel Sanders,” and a former member of the Black Eyed Peas who quit before the band hit it big. Not all stories of loss in “Almost Famous” are equally tragic. Jocelyn Bell Burnell’s story, which she herself tells above, contains more than enough struggle, triumph, and crushing disappointment for a compelling tale.


An astronomer, Bell Burnell was instrumental in the discovery of pulsars — a discovery that changed the field forever. While her Ph.D. advisor Antony Hewish would be awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery in 1974, Bell Burnell’s involvement was virtually ignored, or treated as a novelty. “When the press found out I was a woman,” she said in 2015, “we were bombarded with inquiries. My male supervisor was asked the astrophysical questions while I was the human interest. Photographers asked me to unbutton my blouse lower, whilst journalists wanted to know my vital statistics and whether I was taller than Princess Margaret.”

In the film, Burnell describes a lifelong struggle against a male-dominated establishment that marginalized her. She also tells a story of supportive Quaker parents who nurtured her will to follow her intellectual passions despite the obstacles. Growing up in Ireland, she says, “I knew I wanted to be an astronomer. But at that stage, there weren’t any women role models that I knew of.” She comments, with understandable anger, how many people congratulated her on her marriage and said “nothing about making a major astrophysical discovery.”

Many of us have stories to tell about being denied achievements or opportunities through circumstances not of our own making. We often hold those stories close, feeling a sense of failure and frustration, measuring ourselves against those who “made it” and believing we have come up short. We are not alone. There are many who made the effort, and a few who got there first but didn’t get the prize for one unjust reason or another. The lack of official recognition doesn’t invalidate their stories, or ours. Hearing those stories can inspire us to keep doing what we love and to keep pushing through the opposition. See more short “Almost Famous” documentaries in The New York Times series here.

Related Content: 

“The Matilda Effect”: How Pioneering Women Scientists Have Been Denied Recognition and Written Out of Science History

How the Female Scientist Who Discovered the Greenhouse Gas Effect Was Forgotten by History

Marie Curie Became the First Woman to Win a Nobel Prize, the First Person to Win Twice, and the Only Person in History to Win in Two Different Sciences

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The Sounds of Space: An Interplanetary Sonic Journey

There are those of us who, when presented with dueling starships in a movie or television show, always make the same objection: there’s no sound in outer space. In the short film above, this valid if aggravatingly pedantic charge is confirmed by Lori Glaze, Director of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate’s Planetary Science Division. “Sound requires molecules,” she says. “You have to be able to move molecules with the sound waves, and without the molecules, the sound just doesn’t move.” Space has as few as ten atoms per cubic meter; our atmosphere, by contrast, has more ten trillion trillion — that’s “trillion trillion” with two Ts.

No wonder Earth can be such an infernal racket. But as every schoolchild knows, the rest of solar system as a whole is hardly empty. In twenty minutes, the The Sounds of Space takes us on a tour of the planets from Mercury out to Pluto and even Saturn’s moon of Titan, not just visualizing their sights but, if you like, auralizing their sounds.


These include real recordings, like those of Venusian winds captured by the Soviet lander Venera 14 in 1981. Most, however, are scientifically informed constructions of more speculative phenomenon: a “Mercuryquake,” for instance, or a “Methanofall” on Titan.

A collaboration between filmmaker John D. Boswell (also known as Melodysheep) and Twenty Thousand Hertz, a podcast about “the stories behind the world’s most recognizable and interesting sounds,” The Sounds of Space was recently featured at Aeon. That site recommends viewing the film “as an exploration of the physics of sound, and the science of how we’ve evolved to receive sound waves right here on Earth.” However you frame it, you’ll hear plenty of sounds the likes of which you’ve never heard before, as well as the voices of Earthlings highly knowledgable in these matters: Glaze’s, but also those of NASA Planetary Astronomer Keith Noll and Research Astrophysicist Scott Guzewich. And as a bonus, you’ll be prepared to critique the sonic realism of the next battle you see staged on the surface of Mars.

via Aeon

Related Content:

NASA Puts Online a Big Collection of Space Sounds, and They’re Free to Download and Use

Sun Ra Applies to NASA’s Art Program: When the Inventor of Space Jazz Applied to Make Space Art

42 Hours of Ambient Sounds from Blade Runner, Alien, Star Trek and Doctor Who Will Help You Relax & Sleep

Plants Emit High-Pitched Sounds When They Get Cut, or Stressed by Drought, a New Study Shows

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch an Accurate Reconstruction of the World’s Oldest Computer, the 2,200 Year-Old Antikythera Mechanism, from Start to Finish

There’s nothing like an ancient mystery, especially one as seemingly insoluble as the origins of “the world’s first computer,” the Antikythera mechanism. Discovered off the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901, the corroded collection of gears and dials seemed fake to scientists at first because of its ingeniousness. It has since been dated to 100 to 150 BC and has inspired decades of research and speculative reconstruction. Yet, no one knows who made it, and more importantly, no one knows how it was made.

“The distance between this device’s complexity and others made at the same time is infinite,” says Adam Wojcik, a materials scientist at the University College of London. “Frankly, there is nothing like it that has ever been found. It’s out of this world.”


The expression should not make us think of ancient aliens — the Antikythera mechanism contains more than enough evidence of human limitation, showing a geocentric model of the cosmos with the only five planets its maker would have known.

The 2,000-plus year-old device continues to reveal its secrets, including hidden inscriptions found during CT scans of the object, as Smithsonian reported in 2015. The mechanism is “similar in size to a mantel clock, and bits of wood found on the fragments suggest it was housed in a wooden case. Like a clock, the case would’ve had a large circular face with rotating hands. There was a knob or handle on the side, for winding the mechanism forward or backward. And as the knob turned, trains of interlocking gearwheels drove at least seven hands at various speeds. Instead of hours and minutes, the hands displayed celestial time.”

If the Antikythera mechanism is a “celestial clock,” who better to design and build its reconstruction than a clockmaker? That is exactly what we see in the videos above, created for the clockmaking YouTube channel Clickspring. Using the best scientific model of the mechanism to date — published this year by Dr. Tony Freeth and colleagues of the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project — Clickspring shows how the device might have fit together and makes educated guesses about the right placement of its dozens of small parts.

You can see a preview of the Antikythera reconstruction project at the top, watch the full project above, and see individual episodes showcasing different phases of construction on YouTube. The model “conforms to all the physical evidence,” Freeth writes, “and matches the descriptions in the scientific inscriptions engraved on the mechanism itself.” What no one can figure out, however, is just how the ancient Greek artisans who made it shaped precision metal parts without lathes and other modern tools of the machine-makers trade. Researchers, and clockmakers, may have pieced together the Antikythera puzzle, but the mystery of how it came into existence at all remains unsolved.

Related Content:

How the World’s Oldest Computer Worked: Reconstructing the 2,200-Year-Old Antikythera Mechanism

Researchers Develop a Digital Model of the 2,200-Year-Old Antikythera Mechanism, “the World’s First Computer”

Modern Artists Show How the Ancient Greeks & Romans Made Coins, Vases & Artisanal Glass

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

More in this category... »
Quantcast
Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.