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Antikythera Mechanism: World’s oldest computer? June 7, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
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For decades, researchers have been baffled by the intricate bronze mechanism of wheels and dials created 80 years before the birth of Christ.

The "Antikythera Mechanism" was discovered damaged and fragmented on the wreck of a cargo ship off the tiny Greek island of Antikythera in 1900.

Now, a joint British-Greek research team has found a hidden ancient Greek inscription on the device, which it thinks could unlock the mystery.

The team believes the Antikythera Mechanism may be the world's oldest computer, used by the Greeks to predict the motion of the planets.

The researchers say the device indicates a technical sophistication that would not be replicated for millennia and may also be based on principles of a heliocentric, or sun-centred, universe – a view of the cosmos that was not accepted by astronomers until the Renaissance.

The Greek and British scientists used three-dimensional X-ray technology to make visible inscriptions that have gone unseen for 2,000 years.

Mike Edmunds, an astrophysicist at Cardiff University, who is heading the British team, said: "The real question is, 'What was the device actually for?' Was it a used to predict calendars? Was it simply a teaching tool? The new text we have discovered should help answer these questions".

The mechanism contains over 30 bronze wheels and dials and was probably operated by hand, Mr Edmunds said. The most prominent appraisal of the mechanism's purpose was put forward in 2002 by Michael Wright, the curator of mechanical engineering at the Science Museum in London, who said it was used to track the movements of all the celestial bodies known to the Greeks: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

Mr Wright's theory is that the device was created in an academy founded by the Stoic philosopher Poseidonios on the Greek island of Rhodes. The writings of the 1st-century BC orator and philosopher Cicero – himself a former student of Poseidonios – cite a device with similarities to the mechanism.

Xenophon Moussas, a researcher at Athens University, said the newly discovered text seems to confirm that the mechanism was used to track planetary bodies. The researchers are looking at whether the device placed the sun, not the earth, at the centre of the solar system.

He said: "It is a puzzle concerning astronomical and mathematical knowledge in antiquity. The mechanism could rewrite certain chapters in this area."

Yanis Bitsakis, also of Athens University, added: "The challenge is to place this device into a scientific context, as it comes almost out of nowhere … and flies in the face of established theory that considers the ancient Greeks were lacking in applied technical knowledge."

Mr Edmunds said the researchers were prepared for an onslaught of conspiracy theories. "There's no indication that the device is anything we wouldn't expect of the Greeks or something that would require an extra-terrestrial explanation.

"I think it is a great testament to the sophistication of the Greeks and how far they advanced before the jackboot of the Romans came through."

A timeshift in the history of astronomy

If the Antikythera Mechanism turns out to have been a machine for showing the movements of the planets around the sun, it would greatly alter our understanding of the history of astronomy.

Although at least one Greek thinker posited a heliocentric view of the solar system, the dominant view at the time was Aristotle's – that the Earth was the centre of the universe and that everything rotated around it in perfect, circular orbits.

It was not until 1,400 years later that Copernicus and Galileo conclusively proved the heliocentric view, which greatly altered man's understanding of his importance and position in the universe.

Their work was met with stern resistance, as the Church believed the Aristotlean view – which put humanity at the centre of the cosmos – was integral to man's direct relation to God.

Researchers are now searching for clues that the Antikythera Mechanism might have been governed by heliocentric principles. If they are successful, it would suggest the heliocentric world-view was more accepted by the Greeks than thought.

For more info and photos please visit>  http://www.xtekxray.com/antikythera.htm

Scientists probe 2,000-year-old Greek computer June 7, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
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'Antikythera Mechanism' may be planetary calculator

A bronze Greek device constructed in around 80BC could be the world's oldest computer, joint British-Greek research seems to suggest.

The "Antikythera Mechanism" – consisting more than 30 bronze dials and wheels – was recovered from the wreck of a cargo ship off the Greek island of Antikythera in 1900. Its exact purpose was unknown, although a previous theory centred on it being used to calculate the movement of the planets then known to the Greeks: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

The researchers from the universities of Cardiff, Athens and Thessalonika now believe they are close to cracking the mystery, by bringing to bear very modern X-ray technology which has revealed a previously-hidden Greek inscriptions which may confirm the planetary hypothesis.

The imaging was done by the X-Tek Group (http://www.xtekxray.com/antikythera.htm) using a "unique" and snappily-named "400kV microfocus Computed Tomography System". British team leader Mike Edmunds of Cardiff University enthused: "The outstanding results obtained from X-Tek's 3-D X-rays are allowing us to make a definitive investigation of the Mechanism. I do not believe it will ever be possible to do better."

The exact nature of the inscriptions is not reported, and while Athens University researcher Xenophon Moussas is reported as saying the "newly discovered text seems to confirm that the mechanism was used to track planetary bodies", Edmunds advised caution. Acknowledging there was one word identified which may give an indication of the device's purpose, he said lots of decipherment work remained. He said: "It's still up in the air, and there's plenty of work yet to be done."

If the Antikythera Mechanism is indeed what the investigators believe it is, then there are further suggestions that it may be based on a heliocentric view of the solar system – highly unusual at a time when most Greeks accepted Aristotle's view that the universe revolved around the Earth.

According to Michael Wright, the curator of mechanical engineering at the Science Museum in London – who in 2002 advanced the planetary calculator theory – the device may have been constructed in an academy "founded by the Stoic philosopher Poseidonios on the Greek island of Rhodes". Poseidonios's student Cicero later described a device with "similarities" to the Antikythera Mechanism.

Although the researchers seem close to discovering the device's purpose, one poser still remains, as Edmunds explained: "The real question is, 'What was the device actually for?' Was it a used to predict calendars? Was it simply a teaching tool? The new text we have discovered should help answer these questions".

According to Yanis Bitsakis of Athens University, the challenge is to "place this device into a scientific context, as it comes almost out of nowhere … and flies in the face of established theory that considers the ancient Greeks were lacking in applied technical knowledge".

Edmunds agreed, saying: "I think it is a great testament to the sophistication of the Greeks and how far they advanced before the jackboot of the Romans came through."

antikythera1.jpg   antikythera2.jpg   A handout photo shows the Antikythera Mechanism (left), a mysterious bronze device recovered from a Roman-era shipwreck located in 1900, and its x-ray (right) made by a Greek-British team of scientists at the Athens National Archaeological Museum.

Visit the official Antikythera Mechanism Research Project website.

The Antikythera Research Project is a joint programme between Cardiff University, Athens University, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, X-Tek Systems UK and Hewlett-Packard USA, funded by the Leverhulme Foundation.

Music > The Zappas play Zappa in Athens June 7, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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Dweezil and Ahmet Zappa, sons and collaborators of the ingenious musician Frank Zappa, will play in Athens tonight at the Olympic Softball facility.

The two, along with regular collaborators of the ingenious musician, play a Zappa-only set in Athens tonight as part of a lengthy tour, ‘Zappa play Zappa’.

The music of Zappa, with Ahmet on vocals, Dweezil on guitar, and other Zappa-linked musicians, will be heard live in Athens for the first time.

“Use it! Danish Design in Everyday Life” > Exhibition June 7, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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The golden age of Danish design may be well over, yet something of its principle of functional objects which are intended to improve living standards continues to the present day and gives Danish design a character of its own.

“Use it! Danish Design in Everyday Life” at the Athens Concert Hall’s exhibition space shows, by its very title, the democratic, socially conscious aspect of Danish design. The show, which includes furniture and other design objects from the 1950s and 60s through today, is different from standard exhibitions on designs in that it invites the viewer to also handle and use the objects.

Organized by the Danish Design Center in collaboration with Megaron Plus and the Arts Department of the Danish Ministry of Culture, this touring show was first presented at EXPO 2005 in Tokyo and is now being shown for the first time in Europe. Curators Tine Nygaard, Charlotte Jul and the artists Bosch & Fjord have aimed for an exhibition that shows representative pieces of Danish design, there are also some contemporary fashion creations, and invokes thought as to how design can help create a more comfortable life style.

Functional, “intelligent” and user-friendly objects set the exhibition’s tone. A characteristic example is the “Kangaroo”, a bicycle with a two-seat, protected cubicle at the front for transporting children. It was designed in 2004 by Leif Hagerup & Lars Malmborg.

“Use It!” points to the democratic, socially conscious trait of Danish design. Besides furniture and objects made for children, the exhibition includes several objects that cater to the handicapped. Examples include “Cheetah” a flexible wheelchair for youngsters, and the “Microsound Pilot” which is a device for the hearing-impaired. Individually adjustable panties for colostomy patients are perhaps a bit unsettling to see yet they are extremely useful objects which show the social sensitivity of Danish design. One of the mottos of the exhibition is “Help Creates Independence”.

In the exhibition one will also find design with playfulness, inventiveness and flexibility. “Seesaw” is a tilting sofa that is fun to use. A wooden ladder designed by Cecilie Manz, which can also be used as a seat, emphasizes versatility and functionality.

There is also a beautiful selection of chairs. Those which stand out the most are from the great names of Danish design of the 1950s and 60s. The “Chieftain Chair”, a comfortable armchair with a totem-like shaped back in black leather, was designed in 1949 by Finn Juhl, one of the best-known designers of the Danish modern style, the style that became so popular throughout the world in the 1940s and 50s.

Organic, rounded shapes and natural materials inspired by abstract sculpture are defining traits in much of Danish postwar design. Hans J. Wegner’s “Ox Chair”, also shown in the exhibition, brings to mind the shape of an animal. The concave back of Borge Mogensen’s “Shell Chair” from 1948 and its smoothly rounded outlines offer another typical example of the Danish modern aesthetic.

Other classics include Arne Jacobsen’s “Egg Chair” from 1957. Besides its enveloping shape, an innovation of this particular design is that it required new production methods in order to fit the fabric upholstery to an unusual shape. The three-legged “Ant Chair” also by Jacobsen, was the first Danish chair designed for large-scale production and the most commercially successful design by Jacobsen. There is also Verner Panton’s stacking chair, the world’s first form-molded plastic chair, which was designed in 1960 and entered commercial production in 1967.

It is thanks to those classic early pieces that Danish design earned a worldwide reputation and entered the history of modern design. Contemporary designers follow the steps of their predecessors. They aim at the same kind of innovation and share their concern for making design a tool that upgrades our standard of living.

“Use it! Danish Design in Everyday Life” at the Athens Concert Hall’s exhibition space (Vasilissis Sofias Avenue and Kokalli street, telephone 210 7282000), through June 18. Open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Free entrance.

Danish culture in Athens > The exhibition on Danish design is part of a broader program of events presenting Danish culture in Greece. The exhibition has been organized by the Danish Ministry of Culture in Greece.

The events include an exhibition on Danish contemporary art, curated by Katerina Gregos and held at the Ileana Tounda Contemporary Art Center (to July 23), and an exhibition on the archaeological and cultural activities of the Danish Institute in Athens (to June 13). A tribute to Danish film was held in late May both in Athens and Thessaloniki. In October, a symposium is scheduled to take place on the late Danish writer Karen Blixen, also known by her pen name, Isak Dineson, who wrote “Out of Africa”.

UseIt1.jpg   UseIt2.jpg

Use it! The ‘Kangaroo,’ a bicycle for transporting children, was designed by Leif Hagerup  and Lars Malmborg in 2004 and is pictured at left. On the right is an image of the ‘Ox Chair’ that Hans J. Wegner designed in 1960. The Ox Chair is considered one of the classics of Danish design.

New lines for Athens Metro June 7, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Transport Air Sea Land.
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Public Works Secretary, Giorgos Souflias, announced the notice of tender for the construction of the new Chaidari-Piraeus metro line, with a total length of 8.1km.

The cost of the venture is estimated at 570 million euros, while the line will serve 160,000 passengers daily.

Mr. Souflias referring to the other extensions under consideration, noted that everything is proceeding satisfactory. Finally, he said that construction on the Thessaloniki Metro would commence by the end of June.

Greek Lampsa Hotels get a foothold at Hong Kong June 7, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Hotels Greece.
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The "Hellenic Hotels Lampsa SA" announced that the 100% affiliated Cypriot company Luella Enterprises Company obtained on June 6th 2006 with owned funds and for the amount of euro 11 million euro the 100% of shares of the company "North Haven", based in Hong Kong and affiliated company of "Hyatt International Holdings Company".

North Haven Ltd, owns 51% of shares of the company "Beogradsko Mesovito Preduzecee A.D", which is the owner of the hotel "Hyatt Regency" in Belgrade. The mentioned property is located in the most central place of the new town of Belgrade, it is the only 5 start hotel of the city and has 308 rooms and suites and also considerable banqueting and events spaces.

Hyatt International will remain operator of the hotel for the forthcoming twenty three (23) years.

Also, it was given to the "Hellenic Greek Hotels Lampsa SA", or to affiliated company, the right to the intention of purchase of the 100% of the shares of the company "Belven Associates" based in the Bahames, that is entitled to loan amounted 36.167.871,00 US Dollars, to the company "Beogradsko Mesovito Preduzecte A.D" insured with mortgage on the building.

The terms of the above loan are particular favourable, for the company, according to current conditions the company says.

Interim owner of the 100% of the shares of the company Belven Associates is from June 6th 2006 a company of the benefits of Laskarides Group, after purchasing it from company benefits of family Pritzker in Chicago, U.S.A.

The company intends to pursuit straight to the right to the intention of purchase as to assure the finance of the deal, with bank loan or with capital increase, says the statement.

The Board Of Directors with the support of the shareholders of the company intends to develop continuously the company in the tourist sector, is said.

Noted that this investment is the first one in the history of Lampsa , since for more than one century, the Hotel Grande Bretagne was the only asset of the company.

Finally, to be also stated that the occupancy and the revenues of the renovated "Grande Bretagne" this year have been continuously improving, says the statement.

Greece to punish workplace sexual harassment June 7, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Police & Crime.
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Greece is to introduce legislation punishing sexual harassment in the workplace, which affects one in 10 female Greek workers, with up to three years in prison, officials said yesterday.

Presenting the bill, which belatedly applies a European Union directive, Labour Minister Savvas Tsitouridis said sexual harassment at work would carry a prison sentence of between six months and three years.

A minimum fine of 1,000 euros ($1,290) will also be part of the sentence.

Studies show that 10% of Greek women have been subjected to sexual harassment at work, while an additional 30% know colleagues who have been harassed, said Evgenia Tsoumani, Greece’s general secretary for gender equality.

The new law also contains measures to combat discrimination against women in the workplace, and leaves the door open to affirmative action by allowing “the adoption of measures designed to obtain genuine equality”.

In a 2005 report, the World Economic Forum cited Greece as a European leader in gender inequality.

In March, figures released by the EU statistics service (Eurostat) ahead of International Women’s Day showed that Greek women received salaries 10% lower than those of men in 2004.

Greek women also had an unemployment rate of 15.5% in January 2006, compared to 6.4% among men.