Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

thought for the day/ Ancient astronomy before the Greeks



Sir Thomas Heath wrote what's still the technical history on Greek astronomy with his "Aristarchus of Samos", and a complementary book, "Greek Astronomy." Van Der Waerden wrote "Science Awakening II" as an astronomical complement to his "Science Awakening" which was about ancient mathematics from the Egyptians through Greek times.  As it turns out, Van Der Waerden's "Science Awakening II" is more about Egyptian and Mesopotamian" astronomy, so I've been eager to read it for years now!  For the longest time, the local library had no access to university libraries; but, recently, due to various events, I tried them again, and now they have partial access!  And, I was able to order it. What follows is my amazon review.  I'll be adding some more in due time. This I of course consider complementary to my Greek Astronomy writeup.  Of course, it should have been read, written, and posted before then, but that's the way things go sometimes!

- Van Der Waerden's Science Awakening II is comparably boring to Science Awakening I.  Science Awakening I is the mathematics from Egyptian to Greek times.  What I'm saying is the mathematics of these times is far more exciting than the astronomy which consists of motions of the moon, sun, and planets.  Noticing there's planets at all is more exciting than knowing their motions.  Knowing the twelve constellations is more exciting than knowing the motions themselves.  It's pretty hard to make this exciting.  You have to try pretty hard to make this interesting. But, if you try hard enough, you might find a few things here and there exciting!

In particular, the Babylonian astronomy game of determining the motions of the sun, moon, and planets from their periods.  Period is not just one cycle of a circular motion from a fixed point.  Period here means the planets after going around however many times, ends up at the same point. Perhaps an easier 20th/21st century example would be the motion of Mercury.  One of the first confirmations of Einstein's General theory of Relativity was the odd pattern of the planet Mercury's orbit.  Mercury of course has an elliptical orbit, and it just turns out to have a pattern, or a period where it comes back to the same point after so many elliptical orbits.  So, Mercury's orbit looks a little bit of a smooth star shape(more complex than a five pointed star).  Similarly, the motions of the moon, and planets from the perspective of viewers here on Earth, and in particular, the Babylonians, noticed there were patterns in the comings and goings in of the planets movement around the Earth(the geocentric view).  They sought as many periods as they could. For instance, 9 sidereal periods = 256 synodic periods.  Each planet had their own 'periods/theory'.  They were also interested in the "Great period" that stretches to 30,000 years.  This idea was brought to the Greeks by a Babylonian - Berrosis.  Carl Sagan mentions this guy in his Cosmos . . . about a great three volume history of the world, written by a Babylonian priest/astronomer Berrosis

Anyways, the Babylonians tried to be able to calculate where a planet would be by these periods.  They had all kinds of mean values, and correction factors that Van Der Waerden clothes in modern simple one degree algebraic equations.  Van Der Waerden also makes a pretty good case that the inspiration for the infinit series was Babylonian astronomy. They calculated some things like the risings of constellations from infinit series.  The Greeks would go on to relate infinit series to proportions and come up with a vast theory of irrationals due to Thaetateous.  This is found in book ten of Euclid's Elements.

Van Der Waerden notes that his account of Babylonian astronomy is only basics compared to Neugebauer's "Antiquity of Exact Sciences."

I've not mentioned much about Egyptian astronomy.  Egypitan astronomy is mostly noticing Sirius, making a calendar by it, and how remarkably, the Nile flooded at the rising of Sirius.  They have a mythology of deacons that is the degrees of nighttime.  They don't have much.  Mythology and Astronomy was almost more exciting in this book than the astronomy(until you kind of get the whole point about periods).

Van Der Waerden traces three periods of astrotheology.  An early Omen period, a primitive zodiacal astrology, and a Horoscope astrology. He goes through some of the major historical points of various Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultures.  Venus was discovered by a descendent king of Hammurabi; this was the high point astronomy of its day(about 1,700 B.C).  He notes some interesting history of the Persians who were probably the high point of Babylonian astronomy before the classical Greeks took over.  These are the kings of Xerxes, Darious, famous both in Greek history and the Bible. Van Der Waerden finds that Herodotus relates that Darious tried to wipe out the Chaldean astrologers. And then, later in Herodotuses Histories, he shows that Xerxes after Darious finds a place in the Persian empire for them to live comfortably. I find it interesting that Van Der Waerden notes all these things in Herodotus, and even much later in the book, the last chapter of the Book, he notes that the Greeks got their twelve constellations from the Egyptians. But, he doesn't note, after all the King Darious and Xerxes, and all the astrotheology he's poinint out, that right around the same paragraph of Herodotus saying the Greeks got the twelve constellations, Herodotus also says the Egyptians were the first to personify the twelve constellations - twelve constellations, twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. It seems clear to anybody who knows the twelve constellations and astrology, that the Gospels follow the twelve constellations pattern/story, and Jesus Christ is just a new Sungod, like all the sungods before him - the Egyptian Osirus, the Babylonians Marduk, Zoroastrianism, and Mithras, and the Greek Dionysius.  But, Van Der Waerden misses this!

- More tidbits from Van Der Waerden's "Science Awakening II"-

- Van Der Waerden  notes that celectial mechanics was the prototype of mechanics in general.  I write up some of the latest and chaos theory in my celestial mechanics article.

- Early astronomy was entirely geocentric. As Carl Sagan points out(does he get it from Van Der Waerden?  Or maybe, he picked it up from someone else who had read Van Der Waerden's Science Awakening II?), the sun sets, but also words like rest, motion relative to the Earth, and I'll add sidereal and synodic motions are all inferred units Jacob Bronowski like(see my origins of knowledge and imagination) that are based on the conditioning of the persons current perspective. The synodic month is the period from one full moon to the next. Sidereal motion; sidereal is the time planets take to cross through the zodiac constellations.  See, sidereal is defined on a very abstract and artificial definition - the constellations.  The constellations have some real meaning, but only from our current perspective; as the stars motions evolve, our constellations will become meaningless.  For Saturn and Jupiter, the sidereal motion is 12 and 29 years respectively; for Mercury and Venus who follow the sun much more closely, their sidereal numbers are . . . one year!(approximately)

- More on the inferred units described above; they are subjective and specific.  Mathematics seeks the general perspective; they are found by deductive logic.

- Egypt was conquered by the Egyptians around Assyrians around 670 B.C.  This was when they started their most intensive astronomical observations, and Thales and the Greeks would come and become inspired by it all. The Mesopotamian/Assyrian conquered Babylonian's calculated eclipses by the periodicities above, and Thales must have gotten this data to predict his Eclipse. The Assyrians seemed to be annoyed at these Greeks for coming in and taking their knowledge; knowledge is dangerous I guess. Ever since Miletians/Ionians such as Thales and Pythagoras went around taking everyone's knowledge(in particular the Assyrians), they held a grunge against the Greeks.  They sent wave after wave of armies at the Greeks in what would be some of the most legendary military battles in all human history(who knows what great battles occurred before the written word) - the Spartan 300, the peloponisian wars. At the end of it was the Delian league with Athens on top.  They were a partial Democracy.  But, all this only lasted a little more than a generation before political maneuvering of those who were not part of the cultural spark of Athens . . . in particular the Spartans siding with the Persians . . . almost put this awakening to sleep early.  But, then came along the Mycenean Alexander the Great to avenge the death of his own father. Alexander the Great went on to conquer the Meditteraenean and start 'Hellenistic society.'  But, through the Romans spending three hundred years conquering the three Greek division of the Med(leading to the famous sacking of Sicily and the killing of Archimedes), the Greek rationality pathway became less and less.  I've perhaps digressed enough here. The rest is explained, starting with my Gospel of Truth, first post of this blog.

- The Egyptians started their year with the rising of Sirius(a white dwarf star that shines brightly in our current sky). There's an ivory tablet from the first dynasty tomb of Abydos with the words, "herald of the new year and of the flood." The Assyrians just used periodicities, as described above.  The Greeks started the year with the Equinoxes.  Today, we don't even do that!  Our year's start is kind of meaningless.

- The Babylonians may have known about the tides because they explored the Persian gulf; the Greeks would later rediscover the tides.

- Kings tend to make themselves rule by divine rule.  Persian ruler Darius was no exception, "A great god is Ahuramazda, who created the Earth here, who created the sky there, who created man, who created happiness for men,  who made Darius to be king, the one to be king over many."

- Herodotus notes Xerxes took the Chaldeans golden bulls and killed the prients, link here - -  > herodotus histories 1-183 you'll have to read three pages in to see this.

- I remember seeing a documentary about researchers of Mount Nemrod-Dagh,


Here it is from far away and you don't know what secrets it holds!

It was destroyed soon enough (100 B.C. is the time of it's being built) for some reason,


Here's Antiochus who built the place,


I'm showing this because like the archaeological inscriptions found in Nysa and other places showing we can say that people's gods are previous people's gods recast and renamed, Van Der Waerden notes that Zues was identified by Antiochus 1 above to Mazda.  As I've shown in my Gospel of Truth and elsewhere, for instance my post about the Hittites, there's a tendency of dictators to make a one god and combine all gods of all the peoples he's conquered(usually, around this time, its a he) into one religion/god.  The significance of Nemrod-Dagh is that Antiochus 1 is doing this with this temple. He thinks he's going to live forever and so is his kingdom.  The Hittite post I made is on 'Sunday, August 7, 2011', titles, "thought for the day/ Yazilikaya - Hittite sanctuary where PuduHepa tried to make one god out of many and rule the world"

- The idea that the universe is ordered by the logical though of god goes to Socrates, not Medieval Christians. The supernatural religious believers sometimes try to argue science can't learn anything(moon landing disbelievers and so on), and sometimes you get these guys who believe in a god but have learned to do science and want to do science, so they twist this around and say the logical thought of god patterned the universe.  You can do this because god is a vague concept that can prove everything.

- Van Der Waerden finds a Roman emperor Julianus quote where he reveals the mysteries religions are just astrology of the twelve constellations and the sungod Helios.  Jesus Christ is made to cry out to a Elios in the Gospel of Mark when he's hanged on the cross.  Then a bunch of zombies come out of their graves and walk around . . .  Anyways, Emperor Julianus reverted the Roman empire back to paganism after Constantine died.  He was the last to do so.

- Persian king Cyrus, whom the Jews considered 'the anointed one', or the messiah because he released them from being Exhiled to Babylon, was considered a Mithra follower in Ezra 1-8, "Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer,"

- The Jews were influenced by this astrology to wish for the end of this or that kingdom, Isaiah 47 -13, "  Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. and 47 -14   Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it."

- Van Der Waerden determines mathematically, he reads the Babylonian tablets and works out the mathematics, and does the literature reading to show that King Darius attacks and wins various kingdoms based on which constellation the planet Jupiter is in.  Jupiter's sidereal number is twelve, which means it's in a constellation per month.  The first battle was on December 13th, 522 B.C, Jupiter was in Scorpio; the last battle was on December 28, 521 B.C, when Jupiter was in Sagittarius.

- More Herodotus -->, Herodotus, Histories, book 3, 78 , Darius kills the Magi, continue to section 79 according to the link provided.  I've shown that Xerxes did a certain amount of persecution of the Magi, but later in Herodotus, Xerxes makes peace with them -->, Herodotus Histories 7.37


Friday, October 17, 2014

astro picture for the day


Image Credit & Copyright: Rolando Ligustri (CARA Project, CAST)

Here's a comet in front of(by many light years!) of an open star cluster.  Expect far more exciting pictures of this comet as it grazes Mars in a couple of days!

astro picture for the day


Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

Here's a selfie(as they call it in todays cyberpunk internet terminology) of a robot spaceprobe in orbit around a comet; in this case that of Rosetta spaceprobe.

astro picture for the day


Image Credit & Copyright: Harald Albrigtsen

Thursday, October 16, 2014

astro picture for the day


Image credit - Mangalyaan(India's first Mars orbiter)


I have a new note in my Logical Disproof of the existence of God post. That would be Tuesday, July 12, 2011 post.

thought for the day/ 1491 - when the old and new worlds collided!





Highlights of the dark ages were the Spanish Arabs and the Byzantine. A people that were partly protected from the Germanic barbarians of the dark ages by the Byzantines was the Venitians. They'd go on to dominate the second half of the dark ages(from 1000 A.d to about 1500 A.D. Part of what happened was the Byzantine's were overrun by the Turks in the mid 1400s. Now, if you wanted to get silk and spices from the mysterious east, you needed to pay crazy amount of money or find another way. The Europeans found another way. Actually, they got their idea from Aristotle. Ever since the translation of Spanish Arab books around 1060 A.D., they had been reading and argueing over Greek texts(which is what the Spanish Arab texts are; well, there's some purely Arab and Hindu science and philosophy as well).  Just one thing they found was a suggestion from Aristotle that one can get to India by going west through the ocean.  This is assuming the Earth is round which was an idea first entertained by the Greeks(see my Greek Astronomy post in this blog) - reference, Aristotle, De Caelo, page 297
 
I've put up pictures of the Haglia Sophia before, but why not show it again?
 

I'll just say watch John Romer's Testament episode 6 I do believe for good video of the inside and outside of the Haglia Sophia.  He goes straight up the outside doors and knocks on them . . . and opens them up!  It's like something out of the 'Lord of the Rings"!
 
How about a Venice picture,
 
 
When the Portuguese, Spanish, English and French went west, they found a world of riches. This wealth essentially made Venice a relic of the past. A measure of the fame and former power of the Venicians was when Gasper Corte-Real found Venician swords and jewelry on some of the Natives that he captured! This was in 1501, just a few years after Chritopher Columbuses successful voyages.

Lots of things happened, lots of discoveries at this time of course. Even my writeup about rivers throughout human history doesn't cover it all! That kind of covers a good amount of the great voyages that happened back then. I can't help noting Tisquantum, Samoset and Massasoit. These three met what were called the Pilgrims around 1600 A.D.(a hundred years after lots of Spanish and Portuguese exploration had already been done). The Pilgrims first went to Denmark. But they left there because those people were too free thinking for their taste. So, they packed their bags and went all the way across the ocean to practice their Puritan religion. Their descendents went through the Salem witch trials.

Tisquantum led a remarkable life. Tisquantum met other explorers after the Puritans. A Thomas Hunt captured him. Thomas Hunt was a kind of lieutenant of a John Smith, of Pocahontus fame. Thomas Hunt took Tisquantum all the way to Europe and back where he died of plague from the Europeans.

As it turns out, plagues brought by the Europeans seem to be the major culprit for how the Europeans conquered the Americas comparatively easily. One recent remarkable revelation about this is the Native American's lack of immune system may be due to a cometary Impact tens of thousands of years ago. The impact removed lots of animals that would have carried and spread viruses.

One remarkable story of some of the great Native American empires conquered supposedly by one man army Europeans was a Spaniard Francisco Pizarro. Pizarro reportedly conquered the Inca around 1533 A.D. Maybe he did; but, he conquered a substantially weakened Inca empire. Pizarro was killed in a political assassination and power struggle. But, natives buried his remains in a Roman Catholic church that still stands to this day.
 

Here's the outside of the Cathedral of Lima
 
 
 
Today, the scientific exploration of both the great European discoveries of the America and who and how the Native Americans got there is a rapidly shifting field. There's no firm conclusions to be drawn. Everyone has a theory . . . Asians, ten lost tribes of Israel(which helped found the Christian sect of Mormons; it's in their book of Mormon), Egyptians, the people from the lost city of Atlantis. One remarkable possibility though has been the boat conjecture.

For the longest time, people assumed the Native Americans came across the Bering straight into North America. But, people argue that some of the 30,000 year old finds in South America suggest those people could not have gotten through all that wilderness in so fast a time. How could they have done it? The remarkable revelation here is by boat! Recently, I've posted about the remarkable Indonisian cave paintings to like 40,000 years ago. People would have had to boat from Asia to Indonesia, and as everyone knows, the Australians also would have had to boat to get there as well! So, the boat suggestion has plausibility, and in my opinion is a great revelation of contempory scientific understanding of Human history and of how Native Americans got to the Americas.

Remarkably, when the Europeans found the Americas, it didn't dawn on them that this was a challenge to their religion. Does the bible mention anything about the Americas and Native Americans? That they know nothing of their religion. If they knew nothing of Christianity, wouldn't that suggest something to the Europeans? It never dawned on 99.99 percent of them. They just went about trying to convert them. The technologies and science that are similar and dissimilar to one another are some of the real revelations of the discovery of the Americas(the fact that Jesus Christ was not known to the Native Americans should have been, but anyways).
Ecologists have argued that ecological diversity was of major importance of the founding of civilization. They argue that Mesopotamia was an ecologicaly diverse area. As Jared Diamond(through Charles Mann's "1491") says, "a wide ranger of altitudes and topographies within a short distance". The fertile crescent has mountains in Iran and the Dead Sea, and the lowest places on the Earth bracket the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Another place is Peru, where going from mountain to sea has 20 of the the worlds 34 major types of environment. Down there arose a variety of cultures. They ultimately led to the Inca. Another interesting diverse area was Oaxica a little bit higher in contemporary Mexico. This area originated Maize, or corn.
 
 
 
 
The area had a diversity of people who grew Maize in a great variety of colors.
 
Maize appears to have been a genetic engineering effort of the peoples of the Oaxica. Today's scientific thinkers would initially recoil from such an idea. They'd note that Gregory Mendel in the mid 1800s came up with the idea of genetics. But, if you learn about what he did, you might think, hey? This is a simple experiment he did; why could't some cultures thousands of years ago have done such simple things? Well yea. This is kind of like why didn't Archimedes think of the place value system for numbers? Why didn't the Greeks think to apply their deductive logic to numbers and algebra like they did to Geometry? This really comes to show that the cultural upbringing of a person influences what he innovates, and that every theorem is a precious thing because people innovate based on what's in their heads at a given time. It also suggests that taking the general viewpoint, philosophicaly/spiritiually is valuable for figuring out nature(everything in it, including humanity). I've struggled to say this in this blog! So, the discovery of Maize in the America was a great discovery. It spread all up and down North and South America. All Native Americans cherished Maize. They made their religion say they were made from Maize. One of the most mysterious Native American cultures were the Olmecs. They arose shortly after Maize was created.
The earliest we know of them so far is that of 1800 B.C. Within three centuries, San Lorenzo was built. San Lorenzo was destroyed around 1200 B.C. which is why all those gigantic heads are found dispersed all over the place. That's how far back in time those gigantic heads go! A La Venta and the last of the Olmecs was destroyed around 350 B.C. I'm not going to speculate too much on why the Olmecs fell. I've mentioned the reason those great heads are dispersed. Seeing those heads and realizing how far back they date is enough to suggest how great of a civilization they were. Charles Mann, in his 1491, says they figured out Venus and retrograde motion. I'm not sure how they know that.
Everyone knows the great architecture of the Aztecs, Maya, and Inca. I don't want to dwell on that. The Inca had another most remarkable science/technology in their language. It consisted of ropes and knots in them. In fact, it was a binary number language. I had suggested early on in this blog that maybe language gets its ability to swap words around by mathematics. That mathematics came first before natural language. I later tried to laugh it off; but, remarkably, the recent scientific studies of Native Americans history shows the Inca language was mathematical! Unfortunately, they were a comparative late and fleeting(two hundred years) culture. Still, it's a tantalizing piece of empirical evidence.
Another remarkable science/technology of the Native Americans was the use of fire. An ecological understanding of plants shows there's what's called 'succession plants.' Because of natural disasters, there's plants that have evolved to go into destroyed ecosystems to prepare the way for later plants to get the ecosystem going again. If there were no disasters, these plants would go extinct. Native Americans, and in particular the South American rain forest cultures(including the Maya), found that the use of fire allowed them to take advantage of this succession plants and shape the Rain forests . . . ! Instead of domesticating animals, they influenced where animals would go by the use of fire to shape ecosystems. This was done in the North Americas. In the South Americas, the use of fire was used to influence which fruiting plants they wanted to grow naturally. This is one major example of the great things we can learn about changing cultural lifestyles to be more ecologically friendly.
Another remarkable technology that still hasn't been taken advantage of much is tension architecture. Much is made of how the Native Americans never innovated the wheel. This is kind of an example of what people innovate depends on their cultureal upbringing. But, this is more geological influence. The Native Americans knew about circles and wheels, but their environment generally had no practial use for it. The science/technologies innovated by the New and Old world wasn't because one was dumber than the other.
In the old world(Europe, Africa and the Orient), the major architectural innovation was the arch.

This Roman aqueduct is in Spain
 
The arch and even the post/lintel are compression archtecture based. There's some small examples of arches in Maya temples, but they were not extensive; you'd have to look hard to find the small examples. What the Native Americans appear to have innovated was tension technologies. I don't know of any extant example of this. They used rope and cotton to make their boats and houses and bridges and so on. But, this made me pull out an old Scientific American and finally read an article I always meant to read! It was the January 1998 issue, and Tensigrity was the cover page article.
I don't want to get into all the biological insights that tensigrity reveals; just the definitions. Tensigrity has both tensional and compressional elements. Only the stress parts are separated from the compression components. The compression and tensional members are like dual to one another, the compressional members are compressed by the tensional members, and tensional members are pulled by the compressional members. So, if an elements is taken out, all structural members, whether compression or tensional take up the forces that former member once held. All the members feel all the forces all the others feel. All the forces are balanced out. I'm thinking this can be a new way of understanding self-organisation in both natural and technologies. How does something self-assemble when a member is taken out?
 
I start out my write up with examples of Tensigrity pictures . . . !
 
I end this with a great Native American quote!
"He goes his way singing, offering flowers.
And his words rain down
Like jade and quetzal plumes.
Is this what pleases the Giver of Life?
Is that the only truth on earth?" - Ayocuan Cuetzpaltzin
The Native Americans struggled with the same problems Plato did in understanding truth in a changing world. This piece of Native American poetry broke the philosphical problem. One can't understand it without knowing the cultural meaning of the words.
Flowers and song meant poetry, the highest art. 'jade and quetzal feathers' meant 'gold and silver.' The song of the bird stood for aesthetic inspiration. The poetry suggests there's a time when mankind can touch truth of our fleeting lives; that time is the moment of creation. Here artistic creation.

Right when Native Americans made this cultural breakthrough to valueing intellectual persuits, Christopher Columbus succeeded in finding lands west of the old world.  This launched a rush of exploration from the Europeans.  By historical accident, plagues affected them more than the Europeans.  Well, there's still indians here.

One Native American architecture Charles Mann fails to mention in his 1491 book is a Native American Stonehenge and the Anasazi of the Arizona, New Mexico . . . Chico Canyon in general.