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Video: The Antikythera Mechanism

The Antikythera Mechanism is an ancient artifact discovered circa 1900 CE on a shipwreck known as the Antikythera wreck. The Mechanism is thought to be the world's oldest analog computer yet discovered (dating, scientists think, to the 1st or 2nd century BCE). The Mechanism apparently calculates calendar cycles and positions of celestial bodies using a shockingly intricate system of clockwork-style gears -- though its purpose has been the subject of debate for decades, as gears can be used for lots of stuff. The Mechanism is enormously complex, and analyzing it is difficult because of its age, its condition (we just have a crusty fragment that spent roughly two millennia on the sea floor), and the need to create reconstructions in order to see it operate.

Physical reconstructions have been made -- but now, a video of a virtual reconstruction is available, and I encourage you to take a look (there is no sound, don't adjust your speakers). The video below was created by Mogi Vicentini "based on the theoretical and mechanical model by Michael Wright." (Wright's machine is one of the aforementioned physical reproductions, created by using X-ray tomography.) Check this out, and just think for a moment about how much precision went into creating it -- two thousand frickin' years ago:

(View in higher resolution at YouTube).

For tons more on the Mechanism, check out this Wikipedia entry. Check the References section for lots of additional reading.

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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
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Space
Can’t See the Eclipse in Person? Watch NASA’s 360° Live Stream
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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Depending on where you live, the historic eclipse on August 21 might not look all that impressive from your vantage point. You may be far away from the path of totality, or stuck with heartbreakingly cloudy weather. Maybe you forgot to get your eclipse glasses before they sold out, or can't get away from your desk in the middle of the day.

But fear not. NASA has you covered. The space agency is live streaming a spectacular 4K-resolution 360° live video of the celestial phenomenon on Facebook. The livestream started at 12 p.m. Eastern Time and includes commentary from NASA experts based in South Carolina. It will run until about 4:15 ET.

You can watch it below, on NASA's Facebook page, or on the Facebook video app.

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iStock
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science
What Makes a 'Moon'? (The Answer Is More Complicated Than You'd Think)
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iStock

Not all moons look like the spherical glowing orb that hovers above Earth. In fact, to be a moon, a space rock technically only has to be the natural satellite of a star’s satellite.

That said, these rocks don’t all look, or act, alike. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and types, and they all have unique behaviors. For example, Jupiter has 53 known moons—including the solar system’s largest moon, Ganymede—and many of them have elliptical, backwards orbits. Meanwhile, Mars has two moons, and they're irregularly-shaped, dark satellites that orbit the planet’s equator in circles.

Since there are hundreds of moons—and even more conditional ones—in our solar system, this raises a question: Should we deem each and every one of these secondary satellites a “moon”? And if not, should the distinguishing criteria include factors like orbit, size, shape, or visibility from a planet’s surface?

MinuteEarth’s Kate Yoshida explores these questions in the video below.

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