Iron Man Exosuit Will Look For 2000-Year-Old Computer Underwater

Iron Man Exosuit Will Look for 2000-Year-Old Computer Underwater

Remember that nutso Exosuit -- basically a wearable submarine -- we showed you back in February? The Exosuit is about to embark on its first real mission: the hunt for one of the world's oldest computers in the Aegean Sea. It's a quest that has paralysed and, in one case, even killed divers in the past, but the Exosuit will let humans safely dive deeper and longer than ever before.

The Exosuit was originally for the more humble purpose of diving in the murky depths of New York's wastewater treatment plans. But now it's part of an audacious plan to excavate a Roman shipwreck that once yielded the Antikythera mechanism, the world's oldest computer. When an Exosuitted diver descends 120 metres underwater in September, New Scientist reports, archaeologists are hoping to find a second such computer.

Now if you're me, you're probably thinking the suit looks rather ungainly, especially if you're handling delicate, millenia-old artifacts. Pedals inside the suit control thrusters that move the diver through water, but the articulated joints do let each arm and leg move separately. Instead of hands, divers handle objects through chopstick-like claws, as described by New Scientist.

Archaeologists will use the Exosuit's manipulators -- a claw-like pincer where each of the suit's hands would be -- to sift through silt, marine life and centuries of debris. "It's like chopsticks," [a diving specialist] said during trials at WHOI this month. "The first time you use them, you get covered in food. Then you start to get proficient. One drill we've been doing is to use one set of manipulators to open a folding knife attached to the other, then lock it and close it. I managed it twice yesterday."

Given all the technology behind the Exosuit, it's rather extraordinary to think that the Antikythera mechanism was discovered with primitive diving equipment in 1900. Because of the pressures at depths of 120 metres, divers could only spend five minutes on the seabed. Several were paralysed and one died. Over a hundred years later, we may finally be able to thoroughly explore this shipwreck -- safely this time, we hope. [New Scientist]

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    And why would they expect that the ship that held the first Antikythera mechanism, had any prospect of holding a second..? It's not like they were abundant back then, after all they've only actually ever found the one...

      Inscriptions on the first one indicate there were others that were sent with it... The one found is perfect, every scratch, engraving and cog is perfectly aligned with each other. This also indicates that there were others done to perfect subsequent reproductions

      One inscription reads that the deviceS will bring greatest understanding & measurement of the heavens and was meant for the Senate, while the other device was for old Julius C

        I've seen a doco on it, and none of that was mentioned, but I'll take 'yer word for it... :)

          Crap to that... Same thing as was on NatGeo? My first paragraph uses that as an initial source...

          Second one is the book that the docos researcher wrote

            Yeah, not sure where I saw the doco, or what it was called, but it was fairly bland from memory. I'm sure there was more than one made though...

    120m is achievable with current tech (dont need an exosuit), saturation divers can operate up to 500m,

    They could have done this previously.

      Umm you sure your talking metres or feet??

      Record depth for scuba comp air assist is around 300m....

        Saturation diving is different from using a re-breather etc. Check these

        If you're interested check out a rad book called Raising the Dead - about Australian David Shaw who was at one time the world record holder for depth on a re-breather. Bloody fascinating and supremely scary! The 12hr decompression for a 45 second max time at depth would be unbearable.

    I don't get why every suit thing now is called an "iron man" suit. These have been around for decades and decades, you do not need to make them sound amazing and sexy by referencing something that's currently a fad in popculture, the fact that they're looking for more Antikythera mechanisms though IS the interesting and significant thing here.

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