Guildford Astronomical Society

John Lancashire

John Lancashire BSc ACA
John graduated in Mathematics from Bristol University, where he studied general relativity and quantum mechanics in his final year. Torn between an academic career or a life in business he chose the latter, although he always retained his enthusiasm for science and mathematics. He spent many years working in IT for international companies as a software designer, risk manager and programme director. He retired 3 years ago. His interest in the Antikythera Mechanism was sparked back in 2006 and he has been following the developments and research ever since. In his project to create a modern reconstruction of the machine he's bult on his expertise in computer aided design and learnt much about modern manufacturing and prototyping techniques. He believes the Mechanism is a fascinating instrument which still has relevance and value today. Although a small number of bronze reconstructions of the Mechanism have been built by researchers, these are all now sitting in glass cases in museums. People cannot see the engineering inside or explore the functionality of the machine. Hence his aim has been to bring the Mechanism to life by creating a version using modern materials which can be reproduced in small numbers. He would like people to be able to "get inside" the mechanism, understand how it works and actually use it in real life.
DateTalk at GAS meeting
7 Feb 2019The Antikythera Mechanism

1. What is the Antikythera Mechanism?
In which I'll explain how the Mechanism was found and how it got there; what it looks like now and what the most recent scans have revealed; what the inscriptions on the Mechanism tell us and the conclusions we can draw from them.
2. How did astronomy develop in Ancient Greece? In this part I'll explain how early theories about the nature of the universe evolved, how data was obtained to support those mathematical models and how they were gradually refined through the period from 450BC to 150AD.
3. But what does the Mechanism do?
I'll then walk through each part of the Mechanism, explaining the design objectives and the technical challenges encountered by the engineers. I'll demonstrate how the complete Mechanism operates and consider what it could have been used for.
4. How could it have been calibrated?
One of the most difficult challenges is to work out how to calibrate a new Mechanism so that it gives accurate readouts in the present day. This hasn't been done before. I'll look at how to start the lunar calendar which drives the Mechanism and then consider how to translate our post-Newton heliocentric data for the planets into the geocentric model deployed in the Mechanism.