Do you know about the Antikythera mechanism? Jennifer Ouellette (ARS TECHNICA) reports:
Scientists have long struggled to solve the puzzle of the gearing system on the front of the so-called Antikythera mechanism—a fragmentary ancient Greek astronomical calculator, perhaps the earliest example of a geared device. Now, an interdisciplinary team at University College London (UCL) has come up with a computational model that reveals a dazzling display of the ancient Greek cosmos, according to a new paper published in the journal Scientific Reports. The team is currently building a replica mechanism, moving gears and all, using modern machinery. You can watch an extensive 11-minute video about the project here (embedding currently disabled).
"Ours is the first model that conforms to all the physical evidence and matches the descriptions in the scientific inscriptions engraved on the mechanism itself," said lead author Tony Freeth, a mechanical engineer at UCL. "The Sun, Moon, and planets are displayed in an impressive tour de force of ancient Greek brilliance."
“We believe that our reconstruction fits all the evidence that scientists have gleaned from the extant remains to date,” co-author Adam Wojcik, a materials scientist at UCL, told the Guardian.
The hand-powered Antikythera mechanism has a long history. In 1900, a Greek sponge diver named Elias Stadiatis discovered the wreck of an ancient cargo ship off the coast of Antikythera island in Greece. He and other divers recovered all kinds of artifacts from the ship. A year later, an archaeologist named Valerios Stais was studying what he thought was just a piece of rock recovered from the shipwreck, but he noticed there was a gear wheel embedded in it. It turned out to be an ancient mechanical device. The Antikythera mechanism is now housed in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
For a little more background, here's WIKIPEDIA:
The Antikythera mechanism (// AN-tih-kih-THEER-ə) is an ancient Greek hand-powered orrery, described as the first analogue computer, the oldest known example of such a device[excessive citations] used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses for calendar and astrological purposes decades in advance. It could also be used to track the four-year cycle of athletic games which was similar to an Olympiad, the cycle of the ancient Olympic Games.
This artefact was retrieved from the sea in 1901, and identified on 17 May 1902 as containing a gear by archaeologist Valerios Stais, among wreckage retrieved from a shipwreck off the coast of the Greek island Antikythera. The instrument is believed to have been designed and constructed by Greek scientists and has been variously dated to about 87 BC, or between 150 and 100 BC, or to 205 BC, or to within a generation before the shipwreck, which has been dated to approximately 70–60 BC.
The device, housed in the remains of a 34 cm × 18 cm × 9 cm (13.4 in × 7.1 in × 3.5 in) wooden box, was found as one lump, later separated into three main fragments which are now divided into 82 separate fragments after conservation efforts. Four of these fragments contain gears, while inscriptions are found on many others. The largest gear is approximately 13 centimetres (5.1 in) in diameter and originally had 223 teeth.
It is a complex clockwork mechanism composed of at least 30 meshing bronze gears. In 2008, a team led by Mike Edmunds and Tony Freeth at Cardiff University used modern computer x-ray tomography and high resolution surface scanning to image inside fragments of the crust-encased Mechanism and read the faintest inscriptions that once covered the outer casing of the machine.
Detailed imaging of the mechanism suggests that it had 37 gear wheels enabling it to follow the movements of the Moon and the Sun through the zodiac, to predict eclipses and even to model the irregular orbit of the Moon, where the Moon's velocity is higher in its perigee than in its apogee. This motion was studied in the 2nd century BC by astronomer Hipparchus of Rhodes, and it is speculated that he may have been consulted in the machine's construction.
The knowledge of this technology was lost at some point in antiquity. Similar technological works later appeared in the medieval Byzantine and Islamic worlds, but works with similar complexity did not appear again until the development of mechanical astronomical clocks in Europe in the fourteenth century. All known fragments of the Antikythera mechanism are now kept at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, along with a number of artistic reconstructions and replicas of the mechanism to demonstrate how it may have looked and worked.
Back to the new discovery, Ian Sample (GUARDIAN) adds:
Now researchers at UCL believe they have solved the mystery – at least in part – and have set about reconstructing the device, gearwheels and all, to test whether their proposal works. If they can build a replica with modern machinery, they aim to do the same with techniques from antiquity.
“We believe that our reconstruction fits all the evidence that scientists have gleaned from the extant remains to date,” said Adam Wojcik, a materials scientist at UCL. While other scholars have made reconstructions in the past, the fact that two-thirds of the mechanism are missing has made it hard to know for sure how it worked.
The mechanism, often described as the world’s first analogue computer, was found by sponge divers in 1901 amid a haul of treasures salvaged from a merchant ship that met with disaster off the Greek island of Antikythera. The ship is believed to have foundered in a storm in the first century BC as it passed between Crete and the Peloponnese en route to Rome from Asia Minor.
[. . .]
According to the team, the mechanism may have displayed the movement of the sun, moon and the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn on concentric rings. Because the device assumed that the sun and planets revolved around Earth, their paths were far more difficult to reproduce with gearwheels than if the sun was placed at the centre. Another change the scientists propose is a double-ended pointer they call a “Dragon Hand” that indicates when eclipses are due to happen.
So that's some big news.
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Friday, March 12, 2021. The militias dictate terms to Iraq's prime minister, the US government has no concern over an activist shot dead in Iraq, Joe Biden babbles and much more.
Starting with violence in Iraq, PRESS TV reports:
Four roadside bombs have exploded separately near convoys of trucks carrying logistical equipment belonging to the US-led coalition forces in Iraq’s western province of Anbar, southern province of Muthanna bordering Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the central province of Babil, as well as the southern province of Basra.
They note that one of the attacks was claimed by the Iraqi militia group Saraya Awliya al-Dam. Earlier this week, at JUST SECURITY, Crispin Smith weighed in on legal issues with regards to the militias:
But despite their actions, and their close ties to Iran, there is another side to the militias. KH, AAH, KSS, HN, and other major muqawama groups are all officially and legally organs of the Iraqi state through their membership of the Hashd al-Sha’abi (Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF), an umbrella organization comprising mostly Shi’ite groups that rose up in 2014 to join the fight against ISIS.
At the end of 2016, Iraq’s parliament passed “Law Number 40 of the year 2016: the Law of the Hashd al-Sha’abi Committee.” The law formalized a governing body for the militias (the “Popular Mobilization Committee” or PMC), while incorporating the Hashd al-Sha’abi into the Iraqi armed forces. The law also formalized a command structure, with the PMC and subordinate brigades answering directly to the Iraqi Prime Minister as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces under country’s Constitution. A series of Prime Ministerial Orders built upon that law over the subsequent years to regulate the militias by formalizing pay structures, a rank system, and the applicability of Iraqi military laws and regulations.
The result is that many of the key militia groups responsible for attacking the coalition also draw Iraqi government salaries while operating as official members of the security forces. KH, a U.S. designated terrorist organization, is also the 45th, 46th, and 47th PMF Brigades. AAH, also designated and likely responsible for rocket attacks in November and December owns the 41st, 42nd, and 43rd Brigades. KSS operates the 14th PMF Brigade. Of course, in reality these units rarely take orders from the Prime Minister; any government coordination comes from Abu Fadak, the acting deputy chairman of the PMF and a former KH intelligence officer. Though he holds a senior Iraqi government role, Abu Fadak was designated for terrorist activities under Executive Order 13224 on Jan. 13, 2021.
While militias benefit greatly from their status, the Government of Iraq bears liability for their illegal actions. International law of state responsibility defers to domestic legislation when determining who or what is an entity of a given State. In this case, Iraq has very clearly elected to incorporate the PMF, and must own their conduct.
And according to Article 7 of the International Law Commission’s Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts Iraq must remain responsible even when its state organ (e.g. a PMF militia) exceeds its authority or contravenes instructions. This rule evolved in response to a need to ensure clarity in state relations. Rather than allowing states to avoid responsibility by simply disavowing their organ’s actions, international law supports the proposition (Article 7, paragraph 3 of commentaries, p.45) that “all Governments should always be held responsible for all acts committed by their agents by virtue of their official capacity.” This most certainly extends to the killing and maiming of allied personnel operating in Iraq at Iraq’s request.
He's on sounder ground above than he is earlier in the essay when he writes "of successive elecgted Iraqi governments." How was the 2010 government elected by a legal document? It wasn't. The voters rejected Nouri al-Maliki getting a second term. Nouri refused to step down. The government came to standstill for eight months (the political stalemate) until the US brokered Erbil Agreement gave Nouri a second term. Don't call that an election. Unless you're saying the US government is electing the prime minister which would be much more honest. On the topic of the militias, yesterday afternoon, Suadad al-Salhy (MIDDLE EAST EYE) reported:
After frantic meetings in Baghdad, Beirut and Tehran, Iranian-backed Iraqi paramilitaries have agreed to stop attacks against US forces in Iraq on the condition that Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi formally demands an American withdrawal, officials and faction commanders told Middle East Eye.
Kadhimi must tell Washington that the pullout has to be completed within 12 months, they added. Sources said it is likely that Kadhimi will comply and make the formal request.
On 1 March, the armed factions announced the end of an unofficial armistice with US forces in Iraq that had largely held since October, despite a few violations.
So the government paid security forces are dictating to the prime minister what will happen? Another reason that they should never have been made government forces to begin with. A stupid move that the US government didn't even lodge an objection to.
These militias are terrorizing the Iraqi people and the prime miniter either has no control over them or chooses not to exercise any control over them. Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor issued the following:
Iraqi citizen Jaseb Hattab, father of kidnapped activist Ali Hattab, has been killed by gunshot in Amara city in the Maysan governorate, southern Iraq, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said in a statement today warning of targeting activists’ families and its implications on the social peace.
At about 7 p.m. on Wednesday 10th of March, two gunmen on a motorcycle shot Jaseb directly while he was walking in Al-Maa’ard street in downtown Amara city in the Maysan governorate. Prior to his assassination, Jaseb had been participating in a memorial service for assassinated activist Abdul Quddus Qasim, which yesterday marked the first anniversary of his death.
“While the area witnessed a great overcrowding of citizens and widespread presence of security forces , two armed men on a motorcycle approached the victim,” an eyewitness, spoke on condition of anonymity, said to Euro-Med Monitor. “The victim tried to run as one of them got off the motorcycle and walked towards him. But the gunmen rushed towards him and shot him several times, which killed Jaseb instantly [before he could escape]”.
After the accident, a security force arrived at the scene, took the victim's body to the forensic medical office, and then began conducting an extensive investigation about the incident.
Jaseb had launched several distress calls demanding to know the fate of his son, lawyer and activist Ali Jaseb Hattab, who had been kidnapped since October 8th, 2019, for his participation in the popular protests. Since that time, no information had been known about his fate or whereabouts.
Euro-Med Monitor viewed a copy of a video of the victim, in which he confirms that he had reliable information about the identity of his son’s kidnappers. He said his son was kidnapped by Ansar Allah Alawfiaa faction, affiliated with the Popular Mobilization Forces, and demanded to meet the Prime Minister to provide him with documents confirming these claims.
The Hellija clan, to which the victim belongs, have made it clear in a statement to the media that the assassination of Hattab had nothing to do with any tribal disputes – contrary to what was stated in the provincial police statement about the incident. The clan held the security leaders and governor of Maysan governorate responsible for his assassination.
Political activists in Iraq have been subjected to great harassment and constant threats of liquidation. The number of activists who have received assassination threats since August of last year, reached about 30 activists, of which 19 have already been assassinated. Most recently, activist Salah al-Iraqi was assassinated on December 15th, 2020, near a security checkpoint in New Baghdad, southeast of the capital Baghdad.
"The assassination of the father of the kidnapped activist, Ali Jaseb Hattab, rings alarm bells that targeting activists extends to their families,” said Omar Al-Ajlouni, legal researcher at Euro-Med Monitor.
"The Iraqi authorities must commit itself to the provisions of the constitution that stipulates preserving the lives of activists and their families as Article 15 of it states: ‘Every individual has the right to enjoy life, security and liberty. Deprivation or restriction of these rights is prohibited except in accordance with the law and based on a decision issued by a competent judicial authority’.
Al-Ajlouni added that “This was also confirmed by Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which stated: ‘everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.’”
The Iraqi authorities should:
- urgently investigate the circumstances of the crime,
- bring the perpetrators to justice,
- make more efforts to put an end to the widespread assassinations that escalated since the start of the popular movement in October 2019,
- provide the necessary protection for political activists and their families who are under constant threats of liquidation, and
- allow citizens to express their views without being subjected to any harassment or threat.
Protesters took to the streets in five Iraqi provinces, including in the
capital Baghdad on Thursday and Friday morning, to condemn the shooting
death of the father of a protester. The killing of Jaseb Hattab has
exposed government failures to protect protesters and bring to justice
perpetrators of violence against demonstrators.
Widespread anger over Hattab’s murder sparked renewed protests in Baghdad, Muthanna, Babil, Maysan, and Dhi Qar.
Protests continued on Friday morning. In Samawah, Muthanna governorate, clashes took place between security forces and demonstrators, wounding dozens near the provincial government offices. Protesters called for the resignation of the local government, activist Musa Rahmatullah told Rudaw on Friday.
Hattab’s son Ali Jaseb is an activist who had participated in anti-government protests and was kidnapped in 2019. Hattab was outspoken in calling for the return of his son, even publicly naming the group he believed was behind the kidnapping – Ansarullah al-Awfyya’a, a powerful Iranian-backed militia part of the Popular Mobilization Forces (Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic) in Maysan.
We'll note this Tweet:
The European Union ambassador to Iraq, Martin Huth, highlighted the shooting on his Twitter page, posting a photo of Aboud with the comment, “Pope gone. Back to normal?”
Huth later deleted his post without explanation, much to the chagrin of some Iraqi social media users.
Aboud was a determined figure who for a time was a fixture on local media, reminding the Iraqi public about his missing son and seeking justice. He routinely took the six-hour bus journey from his rural town to the capital, Baghdad, to meet his lawyer. He always carried the documents he believed would deliver justice in a court of law.
The US government has had no official reaction -- not even a retracted one. This despite Antony Blinken's recent rhetoric about human rights and "gross rights violations" in other countries. The press also hasn't bothered to ask Jen Psaki, White House spokesperson, about the murder.
In fact, it was pretty much another fluff press briefing yesterday. The only thing of immediate news value would be this exchange:
Q If I can ask just an unrelated question. So, the relief bill includes subsidies for the healthcare exchanges and COBRA coverage. The President, during the campaign, talked about also implementing a universal public option, lowering the Medicare age to 60. Does he still plan to pursue those policy initiatives, and when can we expect to hear more on that from him?
MS. PSAKI: Yes. I mean, we’re only on day 50. We’ve got a lot more time to go here. Buckle up.
Yes, he is — of course, this was his number one priority was getting this American Rescue Plan passed. Today is a very big day here in the White House — significant moment for the American people, of course. But he remains committed to and interested in pushing forward with the rest of his agenda and the commitments he made when he ran for President over the course of the last two years.
In other words, no, it's not a priority and probably not happening.
Iraq just isn't an issue. This despite the fact that the 18th anniversary is soon upon us. Dan Caldwell hasn't forgotten the Iraq War and writes at THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE:
This month, the Iraq war—in which I served as a U.S. Marine more than a decade ago—turns 18. As a result, soon there will likely be service members deploying to Iraq who were born after the war began in 2003. When they arrive, they will find the conflict remains a dangerous one for Americans, as evidenced by the recent deadly rocket attacks against American bases.
Instead of conducting potentially unconstitutional and escalatory airstrikes in Syria to “defend” American troops in Iraq, who are performing a mission that is not necessary for our safety, President Joe Biden should withdraw the U.S. military from the country. Withdrawal would be not only good policy but good politics. Over two-thirds of the American people support leaving Iraq, according to recent polling.
There is no reason to keep sending Americans to risk life and limb in Iraq. We already lost the war when we made the disastrous decision to invade in 2003, handing a victory to Iran and Sunni jihadists who would exploit the chaos of post-invasion Iraq for their own ends. Everything we have done since—including the vaunted surge of Americans troops from 2007 to 2009—has been one failed attempt after another to overturn the terrible consequences of invading.
The inability of now four presidents to accept these realities has meant that America remains enmeshed in a country with no clear connection to our safety or other vital national interests. Over 4,500 American service members have been killed and tens of thousands more wounded in Iraq. Hundreds of thousands more who served continue to bear the burden of the war through mental health challenges and other illnesses connected to their deployments. Apart from the human toll, the war has cost American taxpayers nearly $2 trillion.
The price paid by the Iraqi people has been much higher. Between 200,000 and 1 million Iraqis died due to the war and up to 3 million more were displaced from their homes. Iraq’s Christian community—once the most vibrant in the Middle East, prior to the American invasion—has been driven “perilously close to extinction,” according to the archbishop of Erbil. The Yazidis, another Iraqi religious minority, have been victims of genocide by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), whose initial rise was fueled by the American occupation.
While the Iraqi people were promised freedom, they instead have a government that is increasingly repressive, corrupt, and under the sway of Iran. Maintaining a U.S. military presence in Iraq cannot undo this damage and would only needlessly endanger more American lives. It could even worsen the situation by providing to the anti-American and Iranian-backed militias who dominate the country a convenient foreign scapegoat for Iraq’s problems.
US President Joe Biden babbled away last night but said nothing of the ongoing wars. Patrick Martin (WSWS) offers:
The nationally-televised address by President Biden Thursday night combined self-delusion with a complete refusal to address the causes or the real consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden seemed to have set his speechwriters the task of cramming as many maudlin banalities as possible into the first ten minutes of his speech, as he sought to display the “empathy” that was so lacking in his predecessor, who clearly cared not at all as the COVID death toll in America mounted into the hundreds of thousands.
The language of collective loss, suffering and sacrifice, however, ignored the brutal fact that one section of American society, the super-rich, has lost nothing at all from 12 months of the worst pandemic in a century.
While 527,000 Americans died, the billionaires increased their wealth by $1.4 trillion. While the economy collapsed, millions lost their jobs and hundreds of thousands of small businesses closed their doors forever, the stock market reached new record highs, a process that continues to this day.
Biden, however, in pursuit of his goal of “national unity,” said nothing at all about the class divisions that the pandemic has brought to the fore so clearly. He said little about the tidal wave of economic suffering unleashed by the pandemic, and made only one reference to the congressional passage of his American Recovery Act. This legislation aims to buy time for American capitalism by putting off a full-scale collapse of consumer spending until the end of the summer.
The most striking feature of the Biden speech was its narrow nationalism. He spoke as though coronavirus was a meteor that had crashed out of the sky and struck only the United States, not a global pandemic that has affected every country in the world.
He did not acknowledge the 800,000 dead in Europe, or the nearly equal number of dead in Latin America, or the mounting death toll in India and through Asia—although not in China, where the pandemic began.
This served two purposes. It allowed Biden to avoid the question of how COVID-19 became such a disaster in the United States, which has performed worst of all the major capitalist countries, with 30 million infections and more than half a million deaths.
Okay, we're going to try to quickly get through a few non-Iraq things. First off, one of the attackers of Tara Reade has been revealed to be a paid political operator.
Yesterday's snapshot noted a column Tara wrote earlier this week and here's an excerpt:
In approximately 60 AD a warrior Celtic Queen of the Iceni and her daughters were raped by Roman soldiers and flogged publicly. According to Tacitus, Queen Boudicca said, “Nothing is safe from Roman pride and arrogance. They will deface the sacred and will rape our virgins.”
Now, Boudicca let the Roman empire know her rage at the killing of her husband, rape of her daughters and slaughter of the peaceful Druids. She led armies in rebellion for a couple of years. History is written by the victors and the Romans painted a harsh picture of Boudicca. Personally, I like her spirit and relate to fighting back against an Empire.
The New York Times and Washington Post among other media outlets provided my public flogging for daring to speak out; my truth about the beloved Democrat, the elite Joe Biden, was quickly dismissed.
Sometimes, I feel as if I am being held underwater, far from the surface of being able to be heard. Sometimes, in my darkest moment, for inspiration I whisper “Boudicca.”
An esteemed reporter once said to me, “Tara, we need numerosity to bring the allegations of Joe Biden forward in our piece.”
“Numerosity?” I asked, perplexed.
“More women to come forward.” He replied.
“How many murders make a murderer?” I shot back.
“How many rapes make a rapist?”
The reporter was silent. American rape culture functions on such assumptions.
I had heard this before. While there were seven other women discussing Joe Biden’s inappropriate touching, I was the only credible sexual assault allegation, at least in public.
Many times, by many well-known people, I was asked. “Are there any more names you can give us?”
I do know of more women that have complaints of varying severity about Joe Biden that may or may not ever come forward. However, their stories are not my story and I have no right to discuss their experiences. There is a photo, I have it, some journalists have it, that has not been released that shows Joe Biden in action with someone who does not want to receive his attention. When will it come out? Time will tell.
A prominent news anchor told me a very specific story about his wife receiving an unwanted hug that lingered too long and was “creepy.” The anchor said his wife did not want to discuss it but also added, “Tara, everyone knows this about Joe Biden, it’s an open secret.”
Glenn Greenwald. Sexist? Yes, I think he is. I've never refrained from saying that. That doesn't make him a unique creature on the face of the earth. With ten being the worst, I'd rate him a 2 on sexism. (I'd rate Michael Tracey an 8 on the same scale.) We highlight him because he's an important voice. He'd be a better voice if he'd look at how his college life reinforced ideas and agendas that led to his sexism. He is a product of his time and his environment.
Andrew Cuomo. "How can you remain silent!!!" That's the tone of several e-mails Martha and Shirley summarized for me.
This site, that I am responsible for, has not ignored the claims against Andrew. They have been covered in multiple videos -- including one that a CBS friend n NY called and told me that they had just posted -- it immediately went up at this site. I am not following the case. I know Andrew and I'm not offering a defense of him.
That's not an attack on anyone coming forward. They are getting the space to tell their stories even at this site.
I like Andrew. I am staying out of it. It shouldn't matter but I'm staying out of it due to stress. Two months in a row my diabetes has landed me in the hospital. I don't want March to be the third month and I don't want to lapse into a diabetic coma which I came close to last month. That's why I was off that week. My diabetes can go, in thirty minutes, from a normal range to 340 or higher based on stress. My doctor wants me to stop this site or to at least stop covering Iraq. He says that has to wear on a person if they're covering it every day. I'm not living it, the Iraqi people are. And if there was anyone opposed to war who was covering Iraq regularly -- even once a week -- I'd feel okay walking away. But I'm not going to walk away unless I have to -- not while the whole country ignores the suffering of the Iraqi people. They've been let down by too many Americans already.
I do have to set up boundaries for my health. And I'm not defending Andrew. I'm also not following that case. The courts and the people of New York will decide it. I will gladly repost things about it here but I'm not getting into it. I have enough on my plate and I'm supposed to be reducing stress. Covering what appear to be credible allegations that a friend has harassed women is not stress-free and there's no need for me to step up and do it when the media is already all over it. This is not a case like Tara Reade's where the media was ignoring it.
I hope that answers the many e-mails to the public e-mail account. That would be firstname.lastname@example.org which is for non-community members and really should be Iraq related.
The following sites updated: