Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Antikythera Mechanism: A 2000 Year Old Eclipse Predictor

'The Antikythera Mechanism is a complex geared mechanism that is over 2000 years old. The remains of the device were first discovered in 1902, when an archaeologist noticed a heavily corroded gear wheel amongst artifacts recovered by sponge divers from a sunken Roman cargo ship. The ship was en route from the Greek island of Rhodes to Rome when it sank off the island of Antikythera, between Kythera & Crete. It is thought to be dated from 150 to 100 BC. & that it could possibly be the work of the great astronomer Hipparchus.

The mechanism, often described as the world's first mechanical computer, was used to calculate & display astronomical cycles & to accurately predict lunar & solar eclipses. The mechanism is technically more complex than any known device constructed for at least a millennium afterwards & is the first known instrument to use geared teeth within gears!'

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Halloween Story

This seems like an appropriate day to relay the story of Annie, the CPR dummy. I like to listen to historical ghost stories on NPR & came across this on Radio Lab. (See link below)

"Near the end of the 19th century, a mysterious young woman with a beguiling smile turned up in Paris. She became a huge sensation. She also happened to be dead. You'd probably recognize her face yourself. You might have even touched it.

Long ago, death masks were a common way of preserving the faces of famous people; surviving clay molds were made of Napoleon, Beethoven & Lincoln. One of the most famous death masks was of a woman who wasn't famous at all, while she was alive. Her face, known simply as "L'inconnue de la Seine", (the unknown woman of the Seine), eventually found her way into classrooms across Europe & eventually the United States.

In 1960, an Austrian named Dr. Peter Safar was just developing the basics of CPR & needed a way for people to practice his new method. He tracked down a talented toy maker in Norway named Asmund Laerdal, who had constructed prosthetic wounds for use in military training. Little did Laerdal know that Safer had a compelling, personal reason for getting involved. Laerdal decided the best way to learn artificial resuscitation would be to practice on a 'dummy' & all he needed was the perfect face......"

Listen to Podcast: