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Lost: Amazing Scientific Achievements of the Ancient World

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This article originally appeared as part of SSA eNews No. 14 - Challenges & Opportunities.

Antikythera Machine (x-ray)Richard Carrier, the author of Sense and Goodness Without God, has just started his own blog. His second post is about the Antikythera Machine--a 1st century BC computer used to calculate the future positions of the sun and the moon. Sounds thrilling, right? Well, of course it's the context that makes it interesting. The computer was likely built by Posidonius, an ancient philosopher who calculated the distance to the sun, size of the sun and size of the Earth to a level of accuracy that wouldn't be improved upon until modern times. None of his writings survive today.

About this loss, Richard Writes:

"Posidonius was widely regarded in his own day, and still by knowing scholars now, as one of the greatest scientists and most influential philosophers of the Roman era. I can't tell you how often I run into this tragic loss in my study of the ancient world. Medieval Christians genuinely deserve condemnation for tossing great work like this in the garbage and instead exhausting their resources on copying tons of inane religious literature. "

It is for reasons like this that the ideals of scientific and critical inquiry, secularism, and human based ethics matter. Just as laws do not enforce themselves, knowledge does not preserve itself. We humans carry that burden.

We also look forward to more engaging posts from this promising young scholar.

This article originally appeared as part of SSA eNews No. 14 - Challenges & Opportunities.

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