Though it has stymied researchers for more than a century, most agree that the Mechanism is a calculating device, an analog precursor to the modern computer. Supposedly constructed by the great Greek astronomer Archimedes (inventor of the Pythagorean Theorem), it is believed to have been used as a calendar to predict solar eclipses as well as regular outbreaks of Olympic Syndrome, a little-known form of star-influenced mass hysteria originating in classical times, in which entire nations drain their physical strength in displays of athletic bravado and jingoism at four-year intervals.
All of which, of course, is barely two-fifths of the story. We had the rare privilege of handling the mechanism during a surgical midnight research raid on the Mechanism's Cardiff laboratory some few years ago (for which we sported a cute mask and a smart black turtleneck), and are thus, as usual, way ahead of the game. Here are some findings about the device that the researchers DON'T want you to know:
- Its calculating properties were used to create many of the world's most useful inventions, such as the hourglass, the sextant, and the mule.
- It contains primitive clockwork porn, expressed metaphorically as the meshing of gears.
- Despite its avowed status as a proto-computer, it employed not the well-known binary system, but a more primitive "singulary" system.
- It could be used for purposes of identity theft, for instance, by clocking someone on the head with it and stealing their clothes. (Needless to say, this is how the phrase "clocking someone on the head" was inspired.)
- Its original power source was a live cobra.
- Earlier versions of the Antikythera Mechanism were so large that they filled up an entire room!
- A small slot dispensed strips of papyrus containing the latest stock-forum quotes.
- It was capable of communicating with other Antikythera Mechanisms across long distances; unfortunately, no other Antikythera Mechanisms were manufactured.
- Archimedes was civilization's first Dungeon Master.
- It had the capability of solving world hunger and curing all disease, but no, man had to go and fuck it up as usual.
- It has Solitaire.