And another thing...

ANCIENT GEEKS. You think that old 386 machine in the basement is a computing relic? The Antikythera Mechanism has it beat by, oh, 2,100 years or so. The device, which apparently was used to calculate lunar and solar cycles, was recovered from a shipwreck near Greece about 100 years ago, but scientists are still discovering how it worked. The latest breakthrough, reported in the journal Nature (GCN.com, GCN.com/718), resulted from advanced imaging techniques and revealed some of its intricacies. The device, described as 'a little smaller than a shoebox,' contained at least 30 hand-carved gears, 'the smallest less than a centimeter across,' that projected the moon's orbit and phases. Its technology has earned the Antikythera Mechanism the title, in some circles, of first computer. What's also notable is how it stands out in technological progression'after that ship sank, it was about 1,000 years before anything that complex was produced again.

WIN-WIN? The Army is catching just a little bit of flack for its new PC game, Future Force Company Commander, which puts users in the Future Combat Systems world of 2015. The game, which was added as a recruiting tool in October, lets users conduct night raids, protect airstrips and help defend (fictional) allies from enemy infiltration. In general, gamers have given F2C2 good reviews. But they all notice that you can't seem to lose this game. The enemy never learns anything, and the good guys' technology always works. So all right, purists might want something a little more challenging or realistic. But it is a recruiting tool, not boot camp. You can get info and download the game at www.army.mil/fcs/f2c2/.

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