WHEN EXACTLY WILL THE ECLIPSE HAPPEN? A MULTIMILLENIUM TALE OF COMPUTATION
August 21, 2017, there will be a total solar eclipse visible on a line in the United States. But when the solar eclipse occurs exactly in a certain place? Being able to predict astronomical events has always been one of the great triumphs of accurate science. But in 2017, how can we do?
Stephen Wolfram is a computer scientist, physicist and businessman.
Register to receive the weekly return channel newsletter.
The answer, I think, is pretty good, even if the front of all the movements just over 1000 mph, it should be possible to predict when you will get to a certain spot in a second maybe.
And as proof, we have created a website to allow anyone to enter their geographical location (or address), then immediately calculate the eclipses when they reach and generate many other pages of information.
This is an old COMPANY
In these days, it is easy to know when the next solar eclipse will be; Although integrated with Wolfram’s language, there is a function that tells him (in this form, output is the “most hidden moment”):
It is also easy to find and track where the whole region will be:
Or to determine that the entire area will be about 16% of the surface of the United States:
But computer eclipses are not exactly a new business. In fact, 2000 years old Antikythera device was even trying to do it – with the help of 37 metal gears to get closer to the movement of the Sun and Moon (yes, with Earth in the center).
To me, there is something disturbing – and warning – in the fact that the Antikythera device is such a solitary, but not forgotten technology surpassed for over 1600 years.
But there, at the bottom of the unit, there is an arm that moves, and when a mark or mark Η Σ, indicates an eclipse of the Sun or the possible Moon. How to set the dates on the device is a bit weird (after all, the modern calendar would not be invented for another 1,500 years)
However, if we take the Wolfram Demonstration Project simulation (which was calibrated in 2012 during the creation of the demonstration), and turn the crank to adjust the equipment to August 21, 2017, here’s what you get:
And, yes, all these gears are moving to align the indicator of the moon with the sun – and to the arm in the lower right-hand point of Η – as it should for a solar eclipse. It is amazing what happens successfully in a device designed 2000 years ago.
Of course, the results are much more accurate today. Although, curiously, despite all the theoretical science that has been done, how we actually calculate the position of the Sun and Moon is conceptually very similar to the gears and efficiently – epicycles – the device of Antikythera. It’s just that we now have the digital equivalent of hundreds of thousands of gears.