The Antikythera Mechanism is the oldest known computer, built around 100 B.C. and discovered in a shipwreck in 1901. The purpose of the device wasn’t discovered until 2006. It’s main function is predicting solar eclipses: if you know when an eclipse occurred in a specific location, you can predict another eclipse will occur there every 18 years, 11 days, and 8 hours. And it could do even more than predict eclipses; as we’ve mentioned before, the Antikythera Mechanism is also totally rad. How does one make it even more rad? If you’re Apple software engineer Andy Carol, you build a working model of the device out of 1,500 LEGO Technic pieces.
Carol’s LEGO Antikythera Mechanism (video below) took 30 days to build and is comprised of 110 gears in four gearboxes. And it actually works. So if you want to start your own Mayan civilization and dazzle your followers with solar eclipse predictions, just find a tribe that has had no contact with the outside world whatsoever, then show them your magic LEGO box ten minutes before an eclipse and hope they don’t blame the eclipse on you and throw you into an active volcano. Simple as that.
[Thanks to Geoffrey for the tip.]