Monday, March 24, 2014
ESA/NASA Hubble Space Telescope image
Note for the day: I've more or less updated or fixed the mechanical universe links. Instead of embedding, I just put in links. For some reason, I couldn't find the videos when searching for them through the blogger youtube search engine. I could have sworn I posted almost all the Mechanical Universe videos, only in order. The Mechanical Universe videos are not exactly in order of how science discovered things. For instance circles is episode 9. Circles should have been number one! Then the Mechanical Universe producers made two episodes about the fundamental forces; these should have been last! These are episodes 10 and 11 respectively. I'll go ahead and post those here just to make this a bit more of a thought for the day.
Mechanical Universe 10: Fundamental Forces and Mechanical Universe 11: Gravity, Electricity, & Magnetism
- Quote for the day extra,
""Let us come to Chaldean manifestations. In discussing them Plato's pupil, Eudoxus, whom the best scholars consider easily the first in astronomy, has left the following opinion in writing: 'No reliance whatever is to be placed in Chaldean p471astrologers when they profess to forecast a man's future from the position of the stars on the day of his birth." - Eudoxus, through Cicero, De Divinatione, book 2, 87
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Image Credit & Copyright: Fred Vanderhaven
The April, 2014 issue of Scientific American has an article about Human evolution that summarizes some of the major discoveries in physical anthropology over the last few years. These discoveries seem to me to make an arguement for how we went from another animal to being able to think about the universe. I'm sure brain and genetics discoveries await, and more fossils and insights abound. Well, I still find this article to bridge the gaps.
The puzzle has always been, "how did we survive in a land with much more athletic cats, animal(and Australopithacus) killing/eating eagles?" One insight I recall and included in this Scientific American article was running. Sure, we still could never compete with any four legged animal . . . in short range; but, over long distances, even the mightiest and fastest predators would get tired. And this only with in a mile or so, most of these stronger faster animals would get gased. Of course, how could we get these athletic beasts to run away from us? We could throw heavy stones(Homo Erecuts at least was probably stronger than you'd think, and stronger than most humans grow up today), and gang up on them. Endurance running appears to have evolved along our line two million years ago.
Because of this running, we developed sweat glans - a cooling mechanism. This evolved about 1.6 million years ago. Around this time, we started to loose our fur. We'd soon need to cover up every now and then with clothes.
Another insight over the last couple of years ago is our ability to throw. Studies of anatomy that allows us to throw so much better than say chimpanzees shows we developed this ability around the time of the Australopithacines. The ability to throw made it harder for us to be good at climbing trees. They made decisions to evolve in different ways; it was almost impossible for our species to turn back technologically almost two million years ago.
The shift to a meat diet from being able to hunt down a source of food not previously available to them meant less deprived diet, and the brain was able to grow more than ever before. From two million years to two hundred thousand years, the brain went from 600 cubic centimets to 1,300 cubic centimeters.
Homo Erectus may have also developed a division of labor long before the coming agricultural revolution(generally speaking, a division of labor is noted as a feature of the agricultural revolution). Males generally went and hunted, while females foraged and cooked and maybe did much more, like government. This female leadership may have lasted all the way down to the famous Venus figurines found all over Europe of pre-Egypt/Mesopotamian cultures. Cultures like Stonehence and the Malta ruins builders.
- I'd like to note another insight not mentioned in the article. Chimpanzies don't know how to swim. When a fellow chimpanzee falls into a water too deep to stand up in, the others are helpless and just watch the guy go straight down to the bottom and drown. Humans learned how to swin hundreds of thousands of years ago. There's some evidence of boats back in Homo Erectus days.
This is Turkana boy, one of the most complete skeletal fossils ever discovered. It goes back to 1.6 million years.
Image Credit & Copyright: Don Goldman
"Socrates. Very good; let us begin then, Protarchus, by asking a question . . . Protarchus. What question? . . . Socrates. Whether all this which they call the universe is left to the guidance of unreason and chance medley, or, on the contrary, as our fathers have declared, ordered and governed by a marvellous intelligence and wisdom . . . Protarchus. Wide asunder are the two assertions, illustrious Socrates, for that which you are just now saying to me appears blasphemy, but the other assertion, that mind orders all things, is worthy of the aspect of the world . . . " - Plato: Philebus
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Image credit: NASA, ESA
Acknowledgements: Ming Sun (UAH), and Serge Meunier
And here's the weird astronomy picture for the day! Never seen any galaxy picture like this! This beats all the interacting galaxy pictures. Apparently, this galaxy is too close to a neighboring galactic cluster, and the combined gravitation is ripping it to shreds! This is almost scary!
- thought for the day extra,
Question: Who Were the Sea People?Answer: The situation regarding the identification of the Sea Peoples is more complicated than you might realize. The major problem is that we only have sketchy written records of their attacks on the established cultures of Egypt and the Near East, and these give only a vague idea of where they came from. Also, as the name suggests, they were a group of distinct peoples of diverse origins, not a single culture. Archaeologists have put some pieces of the puzzle together, but there are still some big gaps in our knowledge of them which will never be filled.The Egyptians originally coined the name "Peoples of the Sea" for the foreign contingents that the Libyans brought in to support their attack on Egypt in c. 1220 BC during the reign of Pharaoh Merneptah [see New Kingdom: 19th Dynasty]. In the records of that war, five Sea Peoples are named: the Shardana, Teresh, Lukka, Shekelesh and Ekwesh, and are collectively referred to as "northerners coming from all lands". The evidence for their exact origins is extremely sparse, but archaeologists specializing in this period have proposed the following: The Shardana may have originated in northern Syria, but later moved to Cyprus and probably eventually ended up as the Sardinians. The Teresh and Lukka were probably from western Anatolia, and may correspond to the ancestors of the later Lydians and Lycians, respectively. However, the Teresh may also have been the people later known to the Greeks as the Tyrsenoi, i.e., the Etruscans, and already familiar to the Hittites as the Taruisa, which latter is suspiciously similar to the Greek Troia. I won't speculate on how this fits in with the Aeneas legend.The Shekelesh may correspond to the Sikels of Sicily. The Ekwesh have been identified with the Ahhiyawa of Hittite records, who were almost certainly Achaean Greeks colonizing the western coast of Anatolia, as well as the Aegean Islands, etc.In Egyptian records of the second wave of Sea Peoples attacks in c. 1186 BC, during the reign of Pharaoh Rameses III, the Shardana, Teresh, and Shekelesh are still considered to be a menace, but new names also appear: the Denyen, Tjeker, Weshesh and Peleset. An inscription mentions that they "made a conspiracy in their islands", but these may have only been temporary bases, not their actual homelands.The Denyen probably originally came from northern Syria (perhaps where the Shardana had once lived), and the Tjeker from the Troad (i.e., the area around Troy) (possibly via Cyprus). Alternatively, some have associated the Denyen with the Danaoi of the Iliad, and even the tribe of Dan in Israel.Little is known about the Weshesh, though even here there is a tenuous link to Troy. As you may know, the Greeks sometimes referred to the city of Troy as Ilios, but this may have evolved from the Hittite name for the region, Wilusa, via the intermediate form Wilios. If the people called Weshesh by the Egyptians were indeed the Wilusans, as has been speculated, then they may have included some genuine Trojans, though this is an extremely tenuous association.Finally, of course, the Peleset eventually became the Philistines and gave their name to Palestine, but they too probably originated somewhere in Anatolia.In summary then, five of the nine named "Sea Peoples" - the Teresh, Lukka, Tjeker, Weshesh and Peleset - can plausibly be linked to Anatolia (albeit somewhat inconclusively), with the Tjeker, Teresh and Weshesh being possibly linked to the vicinity of Troy itself, though nothing can be proven and there's still much controversy about the exact locations of ancient states in that region, let alone the ethnic identity of the inhabitants. Of the other four Sea Peoples, the Ekwesh are probably the Achaean Greeks, and the Denyen may be the Danaoi (though probably aren't), while the Shekelesh are the Sicilians and the Shardana were probably living in Cyprus at the time, but later became the Sardinians.Thus, both sides in the Trojan War may be represented among the Sea Peoples, but the impossibility of obtaining precise dates for the fall of Troy and the raids of the Sea Peoples makes it difficult to work out exactly how they are connected."
It's in quotes, but the person I got this from is 1) using some codename like ns5 or something like that, and apparently, he's taking his entire website down; but, at least I put them in quotes!
The quote above indicates to me that the Sea People's who ended the era of the Troy, the Minoans, the Hittites, and heralded the era of the Israelites and Greeks was due to the iron age. People from Turkey and surrounding areas were learning to make and use iron which would have been a game changer. And, it looks like various people were competing to take over the Levant.
Image credit, Eric H. Cline and Assaf Yasur-Landau
Minoan painting? Yes, but this one is Tel Kabri of Israel; this painting goes back to like 1100 B.C. Eric H. Cline apparently has found many Minoan art througout the mediterraenean including Egypt.
Another Bull Leaping Fresco from the Palace at Tell el Dab'a, Egypt. Tell El Dab'a goes back to the Hycsos who invaded and ruled Egypt for a period - from 1720B.C. to 1500 B.C. The Hyksos conquered by a technology advantage of advanced bow and arrows and chariots.
I've been waiting for these high resolution images of Earth to crop up again; as it turns out, I found this by a roundabout way. I got a new follower. I don't get many followers around here; so, I'm a little excited. Thanks Marianiiina.