Archimedes beats the Google guys …

… by about 2,200 years. Alright, not quite. But they did fish a thing they call “the first analog computer” out of a ship wreck off Crete, and it now turns out that the prodigious brain of Archimedes was involved in its creation. From the article:

Archimedes, who lived in Syracuse and died in 212 B.C., invented a planetarium calculating motions of the Moon and the known planets and wrote a lost manuscript on astronomical mechanisms.

Not from the article, but obviously of interest to us here, is how Archimedes died: It was–but of course!– during and because of Hannibal’s war against Rome. The Romans were trying to win Sicily, the large island between Italy and Carthage, and stormed the ancient Greek city of Syracuse. Archimedes, it appears, was so absorbed in the mathematical equations he was just then scribbling into the dust that he did not bother even to look up as the Roman legionaries ran toward him. Not knowing who the genius at his feet was, one young Roman brute plunged his sword into the old man. So it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut would say.

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