The most advanced diving suit ever made is to be used in the hunt for the remains of the world’s earliest ‘computer’. The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient analogue device designed to predict astronomical positions and eclipses which was invented by the Greeks more than 2,000 years ago.
Some 82 separate fragments of the mechanism were recovered from a shipwreck off the island of Antikythera, near Crete, in 1900 – now the Stephen J Barlow Bluewater Expedition is to carry out further exploration in September. A diver will wear the Exosuit, crafted of aluminium alloy with a 50-hour oxygen supply and foot-controlled thrusters.
Its design qualifies it as an ‘atmospheric diving suit’ – a one-person submarine allowing divers to operate at depths where the pressure would crush an unprotected explorer. The original exploration effort led to injuries and death due to the 120-metre depth. The suit has rotary joints allowing the diver to move relatively freely, and can be used at a depth of 305m (1,000ft).
It is connected to the surface via a cord which provides power and carries a fibre optic cable through which live video is transmitted from the suit. The Exosuit suit is fitted with ‘claws’ for carrying out tasks on the sea bed, and in the event of an emergency a four man crew on the surface can take over control of the suit to bring the diver out of harm’s way. The Antikythera mechanism was particularly significant because artefacts with similar complexity and workmanship were not manufactured again for centuries. The mechanism is made of a complex system of dials, gears and cogs manufactured with a high amount of precision.