The Antikythera mechanism (, ) is an ancient hand powered Greek analogue computer which has also been described as the first example of such device used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses for calendar and astrological purposes decades in advance. It could also be used to track the four-year cycle of athletic games which was similar to an Olympiad, the cycle of the ancient Olympic Games.
This artefact was retrieved from the sea in 1901, and identified on 17 May 1902 as containing a gear by archaeologist Valerios Stais, among wreckage retrieved from a shipwreck off the coast of the Greek island Antikythera. The instrument is believed to have been designed and constructed by Greek scientists and has been variously dated to about 87 BC, or between 150 and 100 BC, or to 205 BC, or to within a generation before the shipwreck, which has been dated to approximately 70–60 BC.
The device, housed in the remains of a 34 cm × 18 cm × 9 cm (13.4 in × 7.1 in × 3.5 in) wooden box, was found as one lump, later separated into three main fragments which are now divided into 82 separate fragments after conservation efforts. Four of these fragments contain gears, while inscriptions are found on many others. The largest gear is approximately 14 centimetres (5.5 in) in diameter and originally had 223 teeth.
It is a complex clockwork mechanism composed of at least 30 meshing bronze gears. A team led by Mike Edmunds and Tony Freeth at Cardiff University used modern computer x-ray tomography and high resolution surface scanning to image inside fragments of the crust-encased mechanism and read the faintest inscriptions that once covered the outer casing of the machine.
Detailed imaging of the mechanism suggests that it had 37 gear wheels enabling it to follow the movements of the Moon and the Sun through the zodiac, to predict eclipses and even to model the irregular orbit of the Moon, where the Moon's velocity is higher in its perigee than in its apogee. This motion was studied in the 2nd century BC by astronomer Hipparchus of Rhodes, and it is speculated that he may have been consulted in the machine's construction.
The knowledge of this technology was lost at some point in antiquity. Similar technological works later appeared in the medieval Byzantine and Islamic worlds, but works with similar complexity did not appear again until the development of mechanical astronomical clocks in Europe in the fourteenth century. All known fragments of the Antikythera mechanism are now kept at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, along with a number of artistic reconstructions and replicas of the mechanism to demonstrate how it may have looked and worked.
Atmos is the brand name of a mechanical torsion pendulum clock manufactured by Jaeger-LeCoultre in Switzerland which does not need to be wound manually. It gets the energy it needs to run from temperature and atmospheric pressure changes in the environment, and can run for years without human intervention.
The clock is driven by a mainspring, which is wound by the expansion and contraction of liquid and gaseous ethyl chloride in an internal hermetically sealed bellows. The ethyl chloride vaporises into an expansion chamber as the temperature rises, compressing a spiral spring; with a fall in temperature the gas condenses and the spring slackens. This motion constantly winds the mainspring. A temperature variation of only one degree in the range between 15 °C (59 °F) and 30 °C (86 °F), or a pressure variation of 3 mmHg, is sufficient for two days' operation.
In order to run the clock on this small amount of energy, everything inside the Atmos has to work in as friction-free a manner as possible. For timekeeping it uses a torsion pendulum, which consumes less energy than an ordinary pendulum. The torsion pendulum has a period of precisely one minute; thirty seconds to rotate in one direction and thirty seconds to return to the starting position. This is thirty times slower than the 0.994 m (39.1 in) seconds pendulum typically found in a longcase clock, where each swing (or half-period) takes one second.
- "Atmos Clock" | 2015-06-14 | 37 Upvotes 6 Comments
Before Present (BP) years is a time scale used mainly in archaeology, geology and other scientific disciplines to specify when events occurred in the past. Because the "present" time changes, standard practice is to use 1 January 1950 as the commencement date (epoch) of the age scale, reflecting the origin of practical radiocarbon dating in the 1950s. The abbreviation "BP" has been interpreted retrospectively as "Before Physics"; that refers to the time before nuclear weapons testing artificially altered the proportion of the carbon isotopes in the atmosphere, making dating after that time likely to be unreliable.
In a convention that is not always observed, many sources restrict the use of BP dates to those produced with radiocarbon dating; the alternative notation RCYBP is explicitly Radio Carbon Years Before Present.
- "Before Present" | 2018-07-20 | 56 Upvotes 27 Comments
A blue moon is an additional full moon that appears in a subdivision of a year: either the third of four full moons in a season, or a second full moon in a month of the common calendar.
The phrase in modern usage has nothing to do with the actual color of the Moon, although a visually blue Moon (the Moon appearing with a bluish tinge) may occur under certain atmospheric conditions – for instance, if volcanic eruptions or fires release particles in the atmosphere of just the right size to preferentially scatter red light.
- "Tell HN: There will be a Blue moon in December" | 2009-12-07 | 29 Upvotes 8 Comments
The computus (Latin for 'computation') is a calculation that determines the calendar date of Easter. Easter is traditionally celebrated on the first Sunday after the Paschal full moon, which is the first full moon on or after 21 March (an approximation of the March equinox). Determining this date in advance requires a correlation between the lunar months and the solar year, while also accounting for the month, date, and weekday of the calendar. The calculations produce different results depending on whether the Julian calendar or the Gregorian calendar is used.
In late antiquity, it was feasible for the entire Christian church to receive the date of Easter each year through an annual announcement from the Pope. By the early third century, however, communications had deteriorated to the point that the church put great value in a system that would allow the clergy to independently and consistently determine the date for themselves. Additionally, the church wished to eliminate dependencies on the Hebrew calendar, by deriving Easter directly from the vernal equinox.
In The Reckoning of Time (725), Bede uses computus as a general term for any sort of calculation, although he refers to the Easter cycles of Theophilus as a "Paschal computus." By the end of the 8th century, computus came to refer specifically to the calculation of time.
- "Computus – The calculation to determine the day of Easter" | 2019-04-21 | 10 Upvotes 1 Comments
A digital sundial is a clock that indicates the current time with numerals formed by the sunlight striking it. Like a classical sundial, the device contains no moving parts. It uses no electricity nor other manufactured sources of energy. The digital display changes as the sun advances in its daily course.
- "Digital sundial" | 2014-07-16 | 232 Upvotes 47 Comments
The Doomsday rule is an algorithm of determination of the day of the week for a given date. It provides a perpetual calendar because the Gregorian calendar moves in cycles of 400 years. The algorithm for mental calculation was devised by John Conway in 1973, drawing inspiration from Lewis Carroll's perpetual calendar algorithm. It takes advantage of each year having a certain day of the week, called the doomsday, upon which certain easy-to-remember dates fall; for example, 4/4, 6/6, 8/8, 10/10, 12/12, and the last day of February all occur on the same day of the week in any year. Applying the Doomsday algorithm involves three steps: Determination of the anchor day for the century, calculation of the doomsday for the year from the anchor day, and selection of the closest date out of those that always fall on the doomsday, e.g., 4/4 and 6/6, and count of the number of days (modulo 7) between that date and the date in question to arrive at the day of the week. The technique applies to both the Gregorian calendar and the Julian calendar, although their doomsdays are usually different days of the week.
The algorithm is simple enough that it can be computed mentally. Conway can usually give the correct answer in under two seconds. To improve his speed, he practices his calendrical calculations on his computer, which is programmed to quiz him with random dates every time he logs on.
Golden hats (or Gold hats) (German: Goldhüte, singular: Goldhut) are a very specific and rare type of archaeological artifact from Bronze Age Europe. So far, four such objects ("cone-shaped gold hats of the Schifferstadt type") are known. The objects are made of thin sheet gold and were attached externally to long conical and brimmed headdresses which were probably made of some organic material and served to stabilise the external gold leaf. The following Golden Hats are known as of 2012:
- Golden Hat of Schifferstadt, found in 1835 at Schifferstadt near Speyer, c. 1400–1300 BC.
- Avanton Gold Cone, incomplete, found at Avanton near Poitiers in 1844, c. 1000–900 BC.
- Golden Cone of Ezelsdorf-Buch, found near Ezelsdorf near Nuremberg in 1953, c. 1000–900 BC; the tallest known specimen at c. 90 cm.
- Berlin Gold Hat, found probably in Swabia or Switzerland, c. 1000–800 BC; acquired by the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, Berlin, in 1996.
- "Golden hat" | 2015-04-20 | 87 Upvotes 28 Comments
The ISO week date system is effectively a leap week calendar system that is part of the ISO 8601 date and time standard issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) since 1988 (last revised in 2004) and, before that, it was defined in ISO (R) 2015 since 1971. It is used (mainly) in government and business for fiscal years, as well as in timekeeping. This was previously known as "Industrial date coding". The system specifies a week year atop the Gregorian calendar by defining a notation for ordinal weeks of the year.
The Gregorian leap cycle, which has 97 leap days spread across 400 years, contains a whole number of weeks (20871). In every cycle there are 71 years with an additional 53rd week (corresponding to the Gregorian years that contain 53 Thursdays). An average year is exactly 52.1775 weeks long; months (1⁄12 year) average at exactly 4.348125 weeks.
An ISO week-numbering year (also called ISO year informally) has 52 or 53 full weeks. That is 364 or 371 days instead of the usual 365 or 366 days. The extra week is sometimes referred to as a leap week, although ISO 8601 does not use this term.
Weeks start with Monday. Each week's year is the Gregorian year in which the Thursday falls. The first week of the year, hence, always contains 4 January. ISO week year numbering therefore slightly deviates from the Gregorian for some days close to 1 January.
A precise date is specified by the ISO week-numbering year in the format YYYY, a week number in the format ww prefixed by the letter 'W', and the weekday number, a digit d from 1 through 7, beginning with Monday and ending with Sunday. For example, the Gregorian date Monday 23 December 2019 corresponds to Monday in the 52nd week of 2019, and is written 2019-W52-1 (in extended form) or 2019W521 (in compact form). The ISO year is slightly offset to the Gregorian year; for example, Monday 30 December 2019 in the Gregorian calendar is the first day of week 1 of 2020 in the ISO calendar, and is written as 2020-W01-1 or 2020W011.
- "ISO week date" | 2019-12-26 | 141 Upvotes 84 Comments