Decoding the Heavens: Solving the Mystery of the World's First Computer

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Random House, Aug 18, 2009 - History - 336 pages
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In 1900 a group of sponge divers blown off course in the Mediterranean discovered an Ancient Greek shipwreck dating from around 70 BC.

Lying unnoticed for months amongst their hard-won haul was what appeared to be a formless lump of corroded rock, which turned out to be the most stunning scientific artefact we have from antiquity. For more than a century this 'Antikythera mechanism' puzzled academics, but now, more than 2000 years after the device was lost at sea, scientists have pieced together its intricate workings.

In Decoding the Heavens, Jo Marchant tells for the first time the story of the 100-year quest to understand 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, the Islamic world and medieval Europe.

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About the author (2009)

Jo Marchant is Opinion Editor at New Scientist magazine. She has a PhD in medical microbiology and has been a science journalist for nine years. She spent three years of that as an editor at the journal Nature, and her articles have also appeared in the Guardian and The Economist. She lives with her boyfriend in Brixton, London.

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