Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Subcategory: Astronomy and Astrophysics
Ryan Acker - University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
Our universe is a mechanical one. We’ve discovered a system of physical laws that can be proved, handled mathematically, and used to explain the most amazing phenomena. To whom do we give credit for these fundamental rules of physics’ Copernicus is recognized for establishing a heliocentric model of the solar system; followed by Kepler’s laws of planetary movement. The ‘Father of Modern Science,’ Galileo, performed thousands of experiments that helped pave Newton’s laws of motion. These four fathers of science made their impressions between the 1500 and 1800 centuries. How did such prominent pioneers miss answers provided many centuries before their time? Recent investigations of an ancient Greek artifact, known as the Antikythera Mechanism, reveals the idea of mechanical design was actually implemented around 3rd century BCE. The device, a complex series of gears and pointers, predicts future eclipses and intricately models the universe in antiquity. Specific attention is given to the moon phase display on the front of the device; which includes a small, black and white ball that rotates with the lunar synodic period. The remains have a fragmentary contrate gear that may be placed in two different directions. Physicist and researcher, Michael Wright suggests that his working recreation of the device has the gear mistakenly placed in the wrong direction. Based on a provided detailed description of the moon display, I hypothesize the gear is correctly placed in order to represent the Greek mathematician, Aristarchus’ realization: the half-moon phase is observably displaced from exact quadrature. By literary review and example, I will prove that the original construction of the moon display on the Antikythera Mechanism is necessary to model the anomaly of eclipses and the movement of the moon. Further research regarding the Antikythera Mechanism is beneficial and important because it provides a more accurate account of the history of mathematics. Copernicus introduced his heliocentric model in 1514, yet the Mechanism dates back to the end of the 2nd century BC. This gap in history is unacceptable and proper research requires facts.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): HBCU-UP; Dr. Anna Harris; University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
Faculty Advisor: Anna Harris, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: Data and pictures are provided from the open source ongoing Antikythera Mechanism Research Project. I reviewed current findings and performed the research.