Decoding the Heavens: Solving the Mystery of the Worlds First Computer

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Jo Marchant

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 but in the Islamic world and medieval Europe too. At heart an epic adventure story, this is a book that challenges our assumptions about technology transfer over the ages while giving us fresh insights into history itself. An epic of forgotten geniuses, lost treasure, death-defying underwater exploration and egomaniacal scientists. LA Times.

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

A dizzyingly brilliant thing…Whatever else it might once have told its creators, the Antikythera mechanism bears a chilling message for our technological age. The Telegraph. Sunken treasure. A mysterious artefact.


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Scrambled inscriptions. Warring academic egos. Technology 1, years before its time.

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The tale…sounds like pulp fiction. But it is all true. The Independent.

The World's Oldest Computer - Full Documentary

Marchant blends the story of the Antikythera mechanism, the people bewitched by it, the year race to understand it, with the history, chemistry, archaeology, astronomy, engineering behind it. The account is sprinkled with the magic dust of an Indiana Jones adventure.

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New Scientist. For more information on Decoding the Heavens and the Antikythera mechanism as well as my old Decoding the Heavens blog, please click here: jomarchant. Surveys with grace what we think we know about the mysterious and troubling relationship between our minds and our bodies.


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The Guardian. A thought-provoking exploration of how the mind affects the body and can be harnessed to help treat illness. In 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.

Decoding the Heavens

For more than a century this 'Antikythera mechanism' puzzled academics, but now, more than 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 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.

Jo Marchant. See Dead People. An Impossible Find. Treasures of War. Rewriting History.