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Brass Gears

One of the first major projects that a new small-scale metalworker with a mill is supposed to take on, almost like a rite-of-passage, is to build a clock. I mean machining the gears and everything.

This... hasn't really interested me that much. I mean, it's a clock. It spins two hands (or three) at fixed speed ratios. Making a torsion pendulum to regulate it makes it a bit more interesting, but really... It's still just a clock.

No, I know what I want to make when I go down the geared mechanism path. And I already hate myself for it. I can't be satisfied with something simple. No. I'm a flipping idiot.

I want to build an Antikythera Mechanism.

For those of you who have no idea what that is — most folks, I imagine — it's the oldest known artifact which contains complex gearing. It was recovered from the remains of a Roman shipwreck, and is believed to have been built between 150 and 100 BC. It is an analog computer used to calculate the positions of the sun, moon, some stars, and possibly the five then-known planets. It even has a mechanism to account for the first anomaly of the lunar orbit. It has at least 37 major gears, and may have had a number more to account for the planetary motions that the inscribed greek instructions reference.

It is at least a thousand years older than any other known device of similar complexity.

So. I'm stupid insane and I know it.

I'm not even going to try tackling this for a while yet. Honestly, the original design is still not fully known, though X-ray analysis has improved our understanding a lot. That hasn't stopped folks from building mechanisms based off the best known evidence so far. It just makes them somewhat speculative.

But someday... I wanna build That.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 19th, 2008 10:29 am (UTC)
Feb. 19th, 2008 03:47 pm (UTC)
2+ thousand years later, it still counts as an oopa. I'd go for it.
Feb. 19th, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC)
Oooooooh. Nice idea. :)
Feb. 19th, 2008 05:43 pm (UTC)
It is said that there is a fine line between Genius and Insanity. Tap dance on the line, dude! @:)
Feb. 19th, 2008 10:53 pm (UTC)
So basically this is your way of saying that you're here to make ART, damnit, not useful objects!
Feb. 20th, 2008 02:55 am (UTC)
Naw. Not so much. I just think the A.M. is really awesome. :)
Feb. 20th, 2008 12:31 am (UTC)
That is pretty darn cool indeed! The human mind is inevitably fascinated by hundreds and hundreds of gear going tick, tick, tick...
Feb. 20th, 2008 03:56 am (UTC)
This would be why a) I have a think for a certain popular brand of grandfather clock that had exposed mechanisms, and b) why I find Meccano orreries incredibly nifty };>. You can find the latter at hobby shows, usually.

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )