When diving deeper into the far end of the historic roots of bioinformatics, I came across the Antikythera mechanism. To me, it has all the hallmarks of what bioinformatics is about: taking in the available knowledge of the time, integrating all the data there is into a functional machine model that actually makes useful and verifiable predictions. And all of that already happened approximately 2100 years ago. Wow!
Now you can wear this “timeless classic” on your wrist – see Hublot painstakingly recreates a mysterious, 2,100-year-old clockwork relic – but why?
But nevertheless, I am amazed by the whole story. For more in-depth info and videos, there is over half a dozen interesting articles related to the Mechanism listed here on boingboing alone. And of course, here is a 3D version:
I had to chew a bit on the fact that it took us (in Europe at least) well over 1500(!) years until the first mechanical clocks or mathematical adding machines re-appeared which were of comparable complexity. It’s more than just a bit, well, embarassing, isn’t it? Sobering up from the illusion that progress strictly is a one-way street leading uphill can give you a bit of an intellectual hangover. So what happened in between, I have been asking myself. Probably we had much more important stuff to worry about for a millenium or so, than, say, computing and toying around with models which help explain the world we live in. Like what? Well, you know the (hi-)story – go figure. Could it have to do with the romans favouring conquest over science as the method of choice for discovering new things, followed soon by the spread of a firm believe that all truth is contained in a single book (nothing to be gained from looking elsewhere and questioning the status quo) – maybe?! As always, I am open to consider alternative hypotheses. Perhaps it’s a gross oversimplification, but in the light reflected from occam’s razor, this one looks quite good to me, though.