The BBC today reported that archaeologists in China have found the worlds oldest observatory. The semicircular platform (130 feet in diameter) surrounded by 13 pillars was unearthed near the city of Linfen in the Shanxi province. The remains are thought to be 4,100 years old. He Nu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Xinhua news agency:
"The ancient people observed the direction of sunrise through the gaps, and distinguished the different seasons of the year."
This theory was tested by archaeologists that spent 18 months testing possible uses of the site. They found that the seasons calculated were accurate within one or two days of the Chinese calendar that is still in use today. Personally, I find it somewhat humbling that these ancient Chinese dudes managed to unlock the secrets of the seasons over 4,000 years ago. But it leaves me wondering how these ancient thinkers would have reacted to today’s astronomical discoveries.
Today, Nature the scientific journal published an article in which NASA scientists announced that they have detected left over radiation from the first stars that formed in the universe. These gigantic thermonuclear furnaces were formed less than 200 million years after the big bang. It baffles me how these astro-boffins have discovered so much about the origins of the universe through the use of telescopes. It leaves me feeling a little sad, yet hopeful that one day I’ll find out what’s supposed to have happened before the big bang.
Well that’s it now! My humble troglodyte grey matter is feeling the strain caused by pondering these cosmic matters, and I find myself asking the classic questions that have plagued mankind "How?" "Why?" and of course "How did they think of that?"
I haven’t felt this bewildered since watching a documentary about super string theory.