An Astrophysicist Who Is Inspired by «Chaos and Disorder»
Ioannis Seiradakis is an exceptional scientist, Professor of Astrophysics at Aristotle University in Salonika research member of the Antikithiron Machine,which is the first computer in history. He inspires respect the moment he says,” Good day.”
Pictures: Dora Topalidou (www.brightside.gr)
Video montage: Zoe Daliana
We spend hours with him, together with photographer Dora Topalidou and Zoe Daliana who is responsible for the video. Our four-hour meeting at Noisis will also be “aired” on the Internet. If we had not known about his research and science background, we would have thought we were speaking to our father, our teacher at school or our university professor.
The humility of his character, together with his well-documented and detailed research in both astronomy and astrophysics, makes him unique! Moreover, he is always positive and willing to spread his knowledge and hope for tomorrow with a smile on his face.
THE SIMPLEST INTERPRETATION FROM AN EXPERT ‘’WHAT EXACTLY IS THE ANTIKITHIRON MACHINE”
At the beginning of our discussion, we asked Mr Seiradakis: “How can you explain the Antikithiron Machine to the average person?” And his answer was informative: “The Antikithiron Machine was a computer in every sense of the word. It had an area where the user would add data. For example, the user would choose a date. While doing so, the gears involved would show various aspects of the Machine and various astronomy phenomena with indicators. For instance, it would show eclipses, full moons, and even dates when the Olympic Games would begin. In other words, it would do computations and the result was shown with the use of scientific evidence. As a result, one could make predictions. This was completely different from the instruments that were made before. Certainly a complicated machine and the manufacturer, who was apparently not a user, equipped it with a manual. To date, 3,000 letters have been found. We are now at the level of 3,400 letters. Also, words and sentences having to do with astronomy and technology are found. We also find geographical indicators.
With regard to the research team of the Antikitithiron Machine , when asked which word made the biggest impression , Ioannis answered: “A lot of words, for example, the word “support”. If you hear the word, you will think about someone who supports someone else. However, in the language of astronomy and with the machine being an instrument of astronomy “support” is the point at which the planets orbiting among the stars change their course. It is what astronomers call reverse motion.
“Mars, for example, moves in a backward direction in relation to the stars. Occasionally, because of the rotation of the sun in relation to the earth and the rotation of Mars, it looks as if Mars moves a little to the right and later in a backward direction. The two points at which this reversal of motion happens are the support points. The part we found has to do with the support for Venus, an internal planet on Earths’ orbit. Venus leaves the sun at an angle of forty-seven degrees and later returns because apparently it goes from the other side and returns to the sun on the internal side of the earth’s orbit.”
Ioannis Seiradakis observes all the strange and unknown things about us through a telescope at Aristotle University.
THE UNIQUE PERSONALITY OF BOTH MOTHEA AND ARCHAEOLOGIST, MERCY MONEY – COUTTS SEIRADAKI, WHO INSPIRED BOTH HER CHILDREN TO DO RESEARCH UNSELFISHLY
An article , a dedication from Hrisa Nanou at the Sunday Aggelioforo in 2010 for a woman symbol of our times..
Where did all this love of researching the unknown come from? Perhaps it is from the motherly presence of an important archaeologist, Mercy Money-Coutts Seiradaki. Professor of Astrophysics at Aristotle University, Ioannis Seiradakis answers movingly: “Why do you open such wounds? If only my mother were here. She never saw me work on the Antikithiron Machine because, unfortunately, she passed away a little while back. She would have helped me a lot. She really worked with Evans as an archaeologist during the excavations at Knossos. She had imbibed not only me but my sister as well an unselfish love of learning and research. We never understood if she had done anything for herself. She liked to study, to show and to learn. In the evenings, I remember her drawing pictures for her publications by using ink because there was no Photoshop or other such tools. She took us to many parts of Greece. We went to many archaeological sites with her and perhaps she instilled in us this unselfish love of researching the world around us. My mother was British, but she was a great philhellene. When she went back to England for the last time, years before she died, she told me: ‘My child, I am not going back there. It’s too cold. I like Greece’.” Recalls Mr Seiradakis.
“IN MY OPINION CHAOS IS SYNONYMOUS WITH FREEDOM”
When asked why he returned to Greece when he could have become a professor at the biggest universities in both England and America, he was specific: “Greece itself… That is, the country, the people, the sky, the environment , the beautiful scenery and maybe its lack of organization. Do not forget that being completely organized can be boring. If someone is too organized, if they hammer the same nail day and night, if they know the bus will arrive on time, then they are indifferent to life. Not only do we have feelings that characterize us, but we also have the curiosity to search the world and its beauty and to try to understand it.
‘’The chaos, in my opinion, is the same as freedom. Indeed, we use the term “degree of freedom” in physics. A system that has many degrees of freedom is freer and it has more solutions. In other words, it is chaotic. Let me use a technical term in physics: entropy. This is a beautiful ancient term that gives us the degree of chaos in a system.”
However, what is the life of a person who has seen so many different things and so many different planets like? How does such a person, after having used state-of-the-art telescopes, get back to the reality of Greece? He explains: “Do not think that the life of an artist or a researcher is different. Both observe the world and try to understand it. The artist tries to portray it and the scientist tries to find its beauty and its simplicity. If there are two theories, on simple and the other complicated, then the simple one will be valid in the end.”
‘’What is your view on death?” He responds: “I do not know what happens after death. However, what scares us is not death, but the journey towards it. If death is short and painless, I do not think it will scare us.”
Ioannis Seiradakis and his “ride” on the planets of NOISIS.
In 2005 Ioannis Seiradakis was awarded the Descartes Prize by the British Royal Society because his group researched neutron stars and discovered many new pulsars that revolve at unbelievable speeds. The fastest revolves 1,716 times per second despite its mass which is like the sun, and which is two million times bigger than the mass of the earth. The slowest pulsar revolves once every nine seconds. The pulses emitted by pulsars, with a frequency ranging from higher to lower on the stave, look like an orchestra with many musical instruments.
‘’ While I was being interviewed in Great Britain on the Descartes Prize, I was asked if I wanted to speak in English or in my language during the special event in the Royal Society. I spoke in Greek in a large amphitheater with a huge radio-telescope in the background, and it was a huge surprise because the first words that were heard at the event were Greek. Let us not forget that the first president of the Royal Society was Newton and that to date the Royal Society is one of the most important and famous science societies in the world he emphasized.
How did he start in science, which he serves even now with love complete devotion? “In fact, I started my career as a radio-astronomer. I worked with a huge radio telescope. At that time the two biggest ones were in Great Britain, which had a wire satellite at a diameter of 76 meters. The other one had a diameter of 100 meters and it was in Bonn. We did research with these telescopes. My expertise was to find pulsars, which are condensed stars. To give you an idea as to the thickness of such a star, one cubic centimeter of these neutron stars weighs much more than 7 billion people inhabiting the earth.”
THE PLANETARIUM DREAM THAT REMAINED IN THE MINISTRY DRAWERS FOR YEARS
“I am very happy to be at NOISIS, in the Ancient Greek Technology and at the Planetarium for one additional reason… While I was a graduate student in Great Britain and because there was no money for me to continue my studies, I worked in the planetarium. That is how my love of planetariums started and in 1993 I made a proposal that a planetarium be built in Salonika. Of course, it never got under way and it probably ended up in some ministry drawer. However, later the Technical Museum of Salonika took the proposal and continued it with the infrastructure that it had. That was how it founded NOISIS, an institute of science and technology,” Mr Seiradakis exclaims with a look of happiness in his eyes due to the realization of such an important project in Greece.
Our meeting will take place again during the “open night” observation of stars this October at the observatory at Aristotle University.
- We warmly thank the employees at NOISIS at the Center for Diffusion of Science and the Museum of Technology in Salonika for their flawless hospitality with regard to the needs of the interview, the photography and the creation of the video with Professor of Astrophysics, Ioannis Seiradakis.