A Portable Cosmos: Revealing the Antikythera Mechanism, Scientific Wonder of the Ancient World
A Portable Cosmos presents the Antikythera Mechanism as a gateway to understanding Greek astronomy and scientific technology and their place in Greco-Roman society and thought. Although the Mechanism has long had the reputation of being an object we would not have expected the ancient world to have produced, the most recent researches have revealed that its displays were designed so that an educated layman would see how astronomical phenomena were intertwined with one's natural and social environment. It was at once a masterpiece of the genre of wonder-working devices that mimicked nature by means concealed from the viewer, and a mobile textbook of popular science.
Convincing. (Andrew Robinson, History Today)As riveting as any thriller or criminal investigation... Jones's text... is precise but calm, elegant and with a certain charm... We need more books like this. (Michael Bywater, Spectator)Jones takes the reader on a journey through the various years of research into the mechanism's background, as well as into the device itself, awarding a glimpse beneath the corroded surface and into the interior gears and cogs. (Jade Fell, Engineering and Technology)Jones' book is written in such a way that makes it profitable reading for a wide range of readers, from the specialists on the Mechanism to those who have never heard of it. (Efthymios Nicolaidis, Almagest)His virtue as an author is an exhaustive knowledge of his subject ... refreshingly candid (John J. Miller, Wall Street Journal Europe)A nimble, comprehensive survey of a wondrous machine (Barbara Kiser, Nature)A Portable Cosmos is set to become the definitive history of the Antikythera Mechanism, and will be of great value to specialists, as well as students and those interested in ancient Greco-Roman science and technology. (Liba Taub, University of Cambridge)Jones's text, too, is precise but calm, elegant and with a certain charm. His learning is broad: here's Ptolemy, here are gear ratios, here's Cicero and Galen, Babylonians, planets, lunar months, Glauco, epicyclics and the 'Spindle of Necessity'. And it is not just the cosmos that is demonstrated, but the vast difference, and astonishing similarity, between us and our ancestors. So out of the history of science comes a sense of our humanity and the ancient desire to comprehend. God knows, it's timely, in the shrivelled cosmos we are building. We need more books like this. And probably more sponge-divers, too. (Michael Bywater, The Spectator)
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