Startup

Startup: And What Have You Accomplished Today?

A computer. Made of Lego. And you were proud of your little "house".

On yesterday’s date, in 1902, Greek divers recovered the Antikythera Mechanism, the world’s oldest known analog computer. We’ve touched on this amazing discovery before, but we hadn’t seen the recent extension of the research that we stumbled upon yesterday.

Andrew Carol, who is a mild-mannered Apple software engineer by day, Lego-engineering superhero by night, has taken the concept of playing with toys to an entirely new level.

He built, in his spare time, a fully-functioning Antikythera Mechanism out of Lego. That, in and of itself, is impressive enough, until you look into it a bit more. Andrew, you see, couldn’t simply re-create the Mechanism piece-for-piece. He was limited by the size of the gears that Lego already made, so in some cases it required some fairly complex math and intricate gearing to allow the same conversions using three, four, eight, or ten gears to do the same job.

He also had to deal with the fact that Lego pieces are not as sturdy as, say, the metal pieces used to make the original device. Overcoming friction often meant that he had to redesign the whole device to not only make the correct calculations, but minimize resistance across the structure.

It’s impressive, to be sure, but the more impressive detail is how effectively it makes our own Lego projects look insignificant by comparison.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/17648733[/vimeo]

Read the full interview over at FastCoDesign, where we borrowed the images from.

  • I just read that twice, watched the video twice and all I can think is, "Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaammmmmmmmmmmmmmnnnnnnnnnnnn."

    Honestly, I have nothing else to offer. I think my mind went numb from the awesome.

  • skitter

    My hat is off.
    Dare I ask how much this cost in Lego-parts, for the usual computations-per-dollar comparison?
    All snark aside, that is a fantastic explanation of the purpose and design of the device.

    Edit: Greeks 1, Mayans 0

  • dmilligan

    Damnit, my jaw dropped so hard that my teeth fell out onto the floor and bounced under my chair. But that's incredible! Not my teeth but the device. That's an amazing display of engineering. I wonder what the guy can do with Tinkertoys?

  • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    This is incredible, though I think the original device also showed more information like position of some planets. I saw this a while ago, it's pretty neat too:[youtube jHWDSnWk2jU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHWDSnWk2jU youtube]

    • Deartháir

      Only on AtomicToasters or Hooniverse could we actually get away with critiquing something like this.

      "Sure, you made a working full-scale model of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, using nothing more than Oreo's, Silly Putty and bathroom tiles, powered entirely by the orange-coloured spread in the Crackers 'N' Cheese packets… but that orange spread tends to be unstable at temperatures over 900 degrees Celsius, so you're taking an unacceptable risk."

      Anywhere else, that would be douchey. Here, with the level of knowledge in the heads of our readers, it's constructive criticism.

  • As a AFOL I am humbled by how cool that is. I don't think I could come up with the brain power to do it.

  • da damn!

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