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Gods, Myths, and Mortals exhibition, Chicagos new museum

Youll travel to Mt. Olympus, so to speak, when Chicagos new National Hellenic Museum debuts its first major exhibit, Gods, Myths and Mortals: Discover Ancient Greece, on Dec. 10. The 4,000-square-foot, interactive, family-friendly exhibit, which will christen the museums new home at 333 S. Halsted, will feature a 13foot Trojan Horse (suitable for climbing), a Greek Idol sirens karaoke cave, a working replica of the Antikythera Mechanism (purported to be the worlds oldest computer) and an interactive model of Homers Odyssey

Children's Museusm of Manhattan (CMOM) to Present New Model of "World's First Computer" Antikythera Mechanism to American Children

New York, NY, December 1, 2006 A team of top European scientists, collectively comprising the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, today announced its exclusive partnership with the Childrens Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) to reconstruct a new model of the Antikythera Mechanism made by Mr. Dionysios Kriaris a model maker, known in scientific circles as the worlds first computer. CMOM will be the first to showcase and interpret the Antikythera Mechanism for a family audience in the United States and the first to present the newest findings on this mysterious artifact in New York.

Collaborating with CMOM, the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project has agreed to provide exclusive images, insight, and information for CMOMs Gods, Myths, and Mortals: Discover Ancient Greece exhibit, which open in May 2007. Through this artifact, CMOM will present the role of Ancient Greece as the birthplace of the scientific process to the thousands of future scientists, mathematicians, engineers and historians that will experience this interactive journey.

Considered the most sophisticated known device from the Greek classical world, the Antikythera Mechanism, whose fragments are housed at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, was

recovered (from an ancient shipwreck) in 1901 by sponge divers near the island of Antikythera, Greece. Originally containing 30 bronze wheels and dials, the Antikythera Mechanism is now understood as an astronomical tool that operated as a complex mechanical "computer," tracking the cycles of the Solar System. While many scientists have, over the years, offered revealing glimpses into the remarkable operation and movements of the few dozen gears, the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project represents a dramatic shift in understanding the functions of those movements. The Antikythera Mechanism may truly be seen as the very beginning of science as we know it, said Andrew Ackerman, Executive Director of CMOM. Just as the Greeks gave us some of the top intellectual, astronomical, and mathematical minds.The Antikythera Mechanism will help make Gods, Myths, and Mortals a wholly unique and entirely unforgettable experience. The Antikythera Mechanism is but one component of CMOMs ambitious project that will immerse children and families in the world of Ancient Greece. From a challenging journey along the path followed by Odysseus, from the walls of Troy to his home in Ithaca, to a gymnasium where children learned to write and develop Olympic skills the exhibition and its series of public programs will be a oneof-a kind educational and interactive odyssey.

The name "Antikythera" has nothing to do with "Antique." It means "anti-Kythera" or "opposite Kythera," and is the name of a tiny island in the Mediterranean that lies between the islands of Crete and Kythera, off whose coast it was found in 1900 in an ancient shipwreck by sponge-divers looking for giant clams. An inconspicuous heap of hopelessly corroded metal lying among a treasure trove of pots and piles of human bodies, one arm of which was brought to the surface, and turned out to be bronze -- the first of 96 naked young men in bronze from the 4th c BC -- the ugly lump went unnoticed even by officials at the Athens Museum, until 1958, when Yale's Derek de Solla Price began studying it. And kept at it, right up until his death. . Recently an 8-ton X-ray machine called "Bladerunner," designed by X-Tek Systems of Great Britain, took 3000 X-ray images of one fragment in an hour, later reassembled by a computer into a 3-D image. (See my article, "The Sphinx and the Robot," for a detailed account of how the ancient Naxos Sphinx was digitally scanned by a French-Italian team and then reassembled into a 3-D image that was

then reproduced in marble by a computer-directed stone-cutting robot.) On the outer circular dial are the 12 Greek months of the year, marked after the Babylonian calendar into 360 days - which is why a circle has 360 degrees. The inner dial, with the 366 days of the Egyptian calendar, shows the Greek Zodiac; across its top are Hydrokoon (Aquarius), Icthyas (Pisces), Krion (Aries) and Tauron (Taurus). Between the last two is a pointer with the bronze ball of the Sun, while below, on a revolving pin extending from the central Earth (?) is the Moon, one hemisphere of which is white, the other black, to show its changing phases from full moon to new moon. The Metonic and Saros cycles on the Mechanism, and the Cosmos as a Geared Machine. On the back side of the Mechanism are two separate circular gears and dials, one for the Metonic cycle, the other for the saros cycle. Babylonian astronomers had discovered that one could reconcile the 360 days in the 12 months of a lunar year with the 365 days in a solar year only after 19 years, i.e. only after 235 lunar months. In other words, if you observe a full moon on April 13, there will not be another full moon in that same place on April 13 until nineteen years later. This cycle came to be known as the Metonic cycle, after the Greek astronomer Meton of Athens. It was a neat way to keep the lunar calendar and the solar calendar in synch Astonishingly, Derek de Solla Price had predicted those 235 divisions would be in there somewhere even though they were not visible until the recent 3-D Xray scan revealed them on spiral fragment E. On another fragment Price found the number 223, which is the number of lunar months in the saros cycle, a way of predicting eclipses, also discovered by the Babylonians, who found that 18 years, 11 days and 8 hours after an eclipse a nearly identical eclipse would occur. Since eclipses were omens that could predict important future events, such as the outcomes of battles and the births and deaths of kings, for thousands of years astronomer-astrologers were courted by princes and emperors. In fact two of the pioneers and "stars" of modern astronomy, Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler, earned money and fame as court astrologers. Working out the geometry of the Babylonian cycles as perfect circles, the Greeks built up a theory of the cosmos as a system of rotating circles and spheres. Since they still viewed the cosmos as an earthcentered ("Ptolemaic") system, to account for the apparent motions of the stars and planets around the earth, and each other, they had to introduce epicycles, or circles revolving on circles, just as smaller

gears rotate on larger gears in the Antikythera Mechanism. As Alexander Jones, a professor of classics at the University of Toronto, said to John Seabrook, author of the New Yorker article on the Antikythera Mechanism, The Greeks saw the Babylonian formulas in terms of geometrythey saw all these circles all spinning around each other in the sky. And of course this fits in perfectly with the concept of gearworksthe gears are making little orbits. But try to make such a machine with elliptical gears! Ironically, it was Kepler's obsession with proving and perfecting this divinely perfect mechanism of circular gears and orbits that forced him to break it. After a decade of trying to fit Tycho's observations, especially of the planet Mars, into circular orbits, he gave up and found they did fit into ellipses -- thereby discovering his famous law of elliptical planetary motion. A Voyage to Olympus for Young Mortals Correction Appended The Cyclops, hairy and forbidding, Aristotle, literally a talking head, The Trojan horse, 13 feet tall, and the Antikythera Mechanism are all on their places. But Odysseus the voyaging warrior and undisputed hero of this scene wont make his grand entrance until 10 of December. Thats because Odysseus is your child, or your neighbors child, or any other mortal visiting an exhibition that opens that day at the National Hellenic Museum of Chicago . Called Gods, Myths and Mortals: Discover Ancient Greece, the 4,000-square-foot show presents an odyssey that is physical, historical, cultural and technological. It is also the Odyssey that is, Homers with a section that invites a young visitor to navigate a virtual ship on a floor-to-ceiling screen through a hailstorm of boulders, walk a curving balance beam between Scylla and Charybdis, and face other challenges on the journey home to Ithaca. Its our first major exhibition about antiquity, Andrew S. Ackerman, the museums executive director, said in an interview, and the first time weve displayed ancient archaeological artifacts. Those antiquities, ranging from coins to a sixth-century-B.C. amphora, or

vessel, with an image of Athena driving a chariot, were borrowed from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Mr. Ackerman recalled one child in his research group who asked, Didnt the Greeks do anything more than make statues? He hopes the show will answer that question. Our goal was not to separate art from history from science from philosophy, he said. Traditionally, when you go to an art museum, you only see art. At a history museum, only history. But in ancient Greece, it was all of a piece. We wanted that holistic experience. The comprehensive approach is apparent in the four sections of the exhibition, which focuses on two main periods: the late Bronze Age (about 1500 to 1200 B.C.) and the Classical period (about 480 to 323 B.C.) The first area, The Gods of Olympus, includes a video introduction to Greek culture narrated by Zeus, Poseidon and Athena, whose tall painted figures preside. The space also includes digital quizzes about the gods and a chance to play what is essentially a game of 20 questions with Aristotle, a talking bust. The second, Growing Up Greek, introduces the household and the gymnasium, or school, with stations that explain the importance of weaving (there is a real loom to try) and the societys emphasis on physical fitness: two mechanical hands on pedestals invite children (and curious adults) to arm-wrestle. The Odyssey section opens with the huge Trojan horse, whose multilevel interior is open for climbing. Some of the subsequent journey is then presented in physical form like the cave of Polyphemus (the Cyclops), with fuzzy animatronic sheep that bleat when children crawl under them, as Odysseus did to escape and some in digital form, like a game that presents situations from the Odyssey and asks players to choose among strategies; the game then gives feedback on their responses. The last section, Discovering Greece, underscores why the museum undertook the project: In addition to models and digitized explorations of Greek science and architecture, the display links

Greek forms to contemporary buildings (the White House), Greek discoveries to modern research and ancient Greek to English words. One aspect that helped win the endowments support was the museums insistence on authenticity. The Greek government provided, at its own expense, replicas of objects votive sculptures, wall reliefs, household items that were too fragile to travel. The museum also contracted for a brand-new model of the reconstructed Antikythera Mechanism made by Dionysios Kriaris, a geared navigational device from 150 to 100 B.C. nicknamed the worlds first computer. Even the wall art is period style. The Odyssey section has a Sirens Cove that is a karaoke stand. Here children imitate those bad guys (or rather girls) by singing familiar pop with mischievous new lyrics. For instance, Gloria Gaynors I Will Survive becomes He Will Survive (a reference to Odysseus), with lines like these: He should have run into those rocks He should have slipped into that sea If wed known hed make it this far Wed have tried to sing on key. While test groups of children have found the karaoke and the video technology irresistible, the museum is hoping that young visitors will also remember the myths and achievements they refer to. Or, as two of the gods put it in the video, sounding a bit like disdainful middle schoolers: The Greeks did pretty well.. About The Childrens Museum of Manhattan

Founded in 1973, the Childrens Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) is New York Citys leading cultural institution dedicated solely to kids and families. CMOM inspires children and their families to learn about themselves and a culturally diverse world through unique interactive exhibitions. CMOM presents a full range of activities, exhibits, and special performances that stimulate children of all ages. Through multidimensional programs that reach deep into the community, the Museum serves New Yorkers from all backgrounds.