Royal Institution July Event

Tuesday 28 July 7.00pm–8.30pm

Decoding the heavens

Speaker: Jo Marchant

In 1900, a group of sponge divers blown off course in the Mediterranean discovered an ancient shipwreck, dating from around 70 BC. Lying unnoticed for months amongst the divers' hard-won haul was what appeared to be a formless lump of corroded rock. Then it cracked open, revealing gearwheels, inscriptions and precisely marked scales - it was and still is the most stunning scientific artefact we have from antiquity. For more than a century this 'Antikythera mechanism' has puzzled academics. Author Jo Marchant will tell the story of the 100-year quest to understand this ancient computer and will explain how it used surprisingly sophisticated astronomy to accurately predict the motions of the heavens. This is a story that challenges our assumptions about technology transfer over the ages while giving us fresh insights into history itself.

Admission: Tickets cost £8, £6 concessions, £4 Ri members. You can book tickets online at or by calling the Events Team on 020 7409 2992 9.00am-5.00pm Monday to Friday.


Venue: The Royal Institution, 21 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4BS


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