Alexander Jones is a classicist and historian of science whose interests center on astronomy and related scientific traditions in the Greco-Roman world and the ancient Near East. Before joining the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World in 2008, he was for many years on the faculty of the Department of Classics and the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto.
Jones's text, too, is precise but calm, elegant and with a certain charm. His learning is broad: here's Ptolemy, here are gear ratios, here's Cicero and Galen, Babylonians, planets, lunar months, Glauco, epicyclics and the 'Spindle of Necessity'. And it is not just the cosmos that is demonstrated, but the vast difference, and astonishing similarity, between us and our ancestors. So out of the history of science comes a sense of our humanity and the ancient desire to comprehend. God knows, it's timely, in the shrivelled cosmos we are building. We need more books like this. And probably more sponge-divers, too. * Michael Bywater, The Spectator * A Portable Cosmos is set to become the definitive history of the Antikythera Mechanism, and will be of great value to specialists, as well as students and those interested in ancient Greco-Roman science and technology. * Liba Taub, University of Cambridge * A nimble, comprehensive survey of a wondrous machine * Barbara Kiser, Nature * His virtue as an author is an exhaustive knowledge of his subject ... refreshingly candid * John J. Miller, Wall Street Journal Europe * Jones' book is written in such a way that makes it profitable reading for a wide range of readers, from the specialists on the Mechanism to those who have never heard of it. * Efthymios Nicolaidis, Almagest * Jones takes the reader on a journey through the various years of research into the mechanism's background, as well as into the device itself, awarding a glimpse beneath the corroded surface and into the interior gears and cogs. * Jade Fell, Engineering and Technology * As riveting as any thriller or criminal investigation... Jones's text... is precise but calm, elegant and with a certain charm... We need more books like this. * Michael Bywater, Spectator * Convincing. * Andrew Robinson, History Today * [Jones] provides just enough general context for readers to understand the astronomical background, while being just technical enough for them to feel that they have a grasp of the object's complexity. * Serafina Cuomo, London Review of Books * This is a remarkable book about a remarkable device. After reading A Portable Cosmos, the Antikythera Mechanism seems a little less different and strange, a little less impossible but no less of an ancient wonder. In clear and lucid prose, Alexander Jones has successfully integrated all the necessary literary, archaeological, and forensic evidence relevant to the Mechanism. The result is a detailed, thorough, and perceptive analysis which will surely stand as the definitive handbook on the Antikythera Mechanism for some time to come. * Alex Nice, Bryn Mawr Classical Review *