Temptation is to chuck it all overboard

Jim Redwine

It took over a hundred years of research, but some smart guys just disclosed the purpose of the brass junk found by a sponge diver off the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901. It is the remnants of the world’s first astronomical computer.

Before Al Gore invented the Internet, the bona fides of this analysis would have been attributed to Biblical truth or at least Shakespeare. But when it comes to the Hades created in our lives by computers, the Bible is a secondary source with the gospel coming from AOL. That is where I learned the following information.

According to the scribes of Wikipedia, about 95 B.C. this arcane device of cogs and wheels was somehow deposited in the mud and sand at the bottom of the Aegean Sea after its unknown diabolical creator cobbled it together by applying the mathematical theories of Greek philosopher Parmenides (c. 515 BC) and incorporating them with ancient Babylonian principles of astronomy.

Modern scientists now believe the sunken treasure was designed to determine the phases of the moon, movement of the then known five planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) and both solar and lunar eclipses. As the instrument was designed long before Galileo (1564-1642) was imprisoned for having the temerity to point out to the church that the earth was not the center of the solar system, this original computer could never give the right answer because it was based on the earth being the hub of the great solar wheel. This must have been ground zero of “garbage in, garbage out.”

Also, in my opinion, it explains why no other versions of the instrument have ever been found and why this devil’s machine was at the bottom of the sea beneath whale scat. I speculate it was thrown overboard by some sea captain who was trying to use it to navigate a route either from or to some port. Much as I have many times been tempted to destroy my computer, iPad, cellphone or even the annoying dinging of my vehicle’s superior sounding warning to fasten my seat belt, I can envision our mythical sea captain having been sold a bill-of-goods by some door-to-door, toga-and-sandals-wearing snake oil salesman who represented to him that this wonder tool would guide ships from port A to port B without fail. You know, the GPS of its day. Then, as the heavens refused to realign to accommodate the religious sensibilities of the day, the machine’s results were so frustrating our ancient mariner just chucked it overboard.

After that it took 2,000 years before our lives were recaptured by our contemporary Parmenides, Steve Jobs. If society could have just carried on without computers as our hypothetical old sea salt may have, we would not be at the mercy of either China or Silicon Valley today. I assign ultimate blame to whoever dredged up the modern-day sea monster known as the microchip and put it in charge of everything in our lives from pre-birth to post-death.

Now if we could just chuck those intermeddlers overboard, we might return to the peaceful existence we enjoyed for the previous 2,000 years.