Event Horizon for the Human Race—Moving Beyond Our Own Boundaries

Posted April 11, 2019 by siderealview
Categories: astronomy, astrophysics, Authors, Climate, edit, publish, fiction, non-fiction, geometry, Ocean, quantum physics, writing, muse, inspiration

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The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) on Hawai’i’s Mauna Kea and Atacama’s Large Submillimeter Array (SMA) answered some cosmic prayers this week.

Event Horizon Discovery by Global AstroSci Team

Summit of Mauna Kea at 13,000ft has ideal microclimate for Harvard-Smithsonian Event Horizon 8-telescope array

The Submillimeter Array of eight radio telescopes alongside the James Clerk Maxwell Observatory on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawai’i have sent earthling skywatchers skyrocketing with delight, as they released their first picture of Messier-87—a super-dense neutron region or ‘black hole’ in Virgo galaxy this week.

Hawai’i is crucial to Event Horizon (EHT)’s world network. Its high volcanic setting provides cloud-free receiving/bending of its own multiple signal—from three points in an array of eight new [radio]telescopes, top, with Mauna Kea Observatory’s James Clerk Maxwell 49-foot dish telescope, and reusing CalTech’s nearby CSO ‘redundant’ observatory.

Previously co-funded by Great Britain, Canada and Netherlands, EHT is presently co-sponsored by Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, Massachusetts with the Academia Sinica, and a consortium of astrophysics interests from Taiwan, China, Japan, South Korea and Chile. EHT is in international partnership with the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan, together with NRC (Canada), NSC and ASIAA (Taiwan), and KASI (Republic of Korea). Vital cooperation is the link with the Republic of Chile—where ALMA‘s 66 high-precision antennae are located on the Chajnantor plateau, at 5000 meters altitude/one mile high in northern Chile.
(ALMA)=Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array

Event Horizon Telescope —EHT— world’s 1st super-array captures its first picture of ultra-dense neutron region M-57 in constellation Virgo

The Event Horizon Telescope—EHT—is a global array of radio telescopes involving dozens of institutions and astrophysicists round the world. Breakthrough discovery by the EHT is an image of Messier 87 (M-87)’s supermassive neutron black hole at the center of the Virgo galaxy cluster, 55 million light years away. This neutron-dense region contains 6.5 billion times the mass of our Sun.

Affectionately named ‘black holes’ are extremely compressed cosmic objects, containing extraordinary amounts of mass packed densely into a tiny region of space. This mass is shrouded by an event horizon—a boundary beyond which nothing—not even light—can escape its electromagnetic/gravitational pull.

They affect their surroundings in extreme ways, including warping spacetime and heating surrounding material to hundreds of billions of degrees. Albert Einstin in his 1915 Theory of General Relativity predicted that a black hole would cast a circular shadow on its bright, glowing material. The newly-released image of M87 from EHT reveals this shadow.

Light emitted from inside the event horizon can never reach the outside observer. Likewise, any object approaching the horizon from the observer’s side appears to slow down and never quite pass through the horizon—its image becoming more and more redshifted as time elapses. This means that the wavelength of the light emitted from the object is getting longer as the object moves away from the observer. The traveling object, however, experiences no strange effects and does, in fact, pass through the horizon in a finite amount of ‘proper’ time.

As high as the Swiss Alps, Mauna Kea hosts climate-immune radiotelescope array for worldwide science cooperative

Black hole event horizons are widely misunderstood. Common, although erroneous, is the notion that black holes vacuum up material in their neighborhood, where in fact they are no more capable of seeking to consume than any other gravitational attractor. As with any mass in the universe, matter must come within its gravitational scope for the possibility to exist of capture or consolidation with any other mass. Equally common is the idea that matter can be observed falling into a black hole. This is not possible either.

Astronomers can detect only accretion disks around black holes, where material moves with such speed that friction creates detectable high-energy radiation. Matter from these accretion disks is forced out along the axis of spin of the black hole, creating visible jets where the streams interact with matter—such as interstellar gas—or if they happen to be aimed directly at Earth.
J.A.Peacock Cosmological Physics, 1999

A distant observer—or world-class telescope array—will never actually see something reach the horizon. Instead, while approaching its edge, the object will seem to go ever more slowly, while any light it emits will be further and further redshifted.

Earth-size Telescope Dish
In order to see a black hole for the first time, the Event Horizon Telescope team hooked up an array of radio telescopes in Hawai’i, Central and South America (Atacama), Europe, Greenland and Antarctica, with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) dish in Cambridge, MA.

EHT signals from global telescope network create earth-size dish receiver, beamed Mauna Kea HI to Cambridge MA for image resolution by the EHT team

Using a technique known as very long baseline (vLBI) interferometry, the CfA-MIT team took precisely-timed data from each radio telescope, combining them to produce images comparable with what an Earth-hemisphere-sized dish would capture. The resulting virtual telescope has the highest resolution of any instrument ever built on earth, in orbit within the Solar System—or even beyond the Heliopause where Voyagers I & II entered Interstellar Space.

We’re a melting pot of astronomers, physicists, mathematicians and engineers. That’s what it took to achieve something once thought impossible.
Katie Bouman, PhD CfA elec.engineer/computer sci
Co-author six papers in Astrophysical Journal Letters

EHT’s image reveals that this enormous black hole—large enough to engulf the solar system—anchors a jet that extends outwards for tens of thousands of light years.

Hawai’i’s Mauna a Wakea—white mountain—multiple telescope array at 13,803feet on the dormant volcano played crucial role in Event Horizon success

There are already plans to expand the EHT: to enable the team to make time-lapse movies of the dynamics of this (newly-discovered) living system, and to discover how the jet draws its energy from this negative source.

Creating the EHT was a formidable challenge which required upgrading and connecting a worldwide network of thirteen pre-existing telescopes deployed at a variety of challenging high-altitude sites. These locations included volcanoes in Hawai`i and Mexico, mountains in Arizona and the Spanish Sierra Nevada, the Chilean Atacama Desert, and Antarctica.

All Very Baseline Interferometry
Event Horizon observations use a technique called very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) which synchronizes 13 telescopes around the world, using earth’s rotation to form one huge, Earth-size telescope observing at a wavelength of 1.3 mm. This lets EHT achieve an angular resolution of 20 micro-arc-seconds—enough to read a newspaper in New York from a sidewalk café in Paris.

From Chile’s Atacama high desert to Spain’s Sierra Nevada to Mauna Kea’s multiple array, telescopes worldwide combined to bring new images beyond human expectation and belief

Resolution of the EHT image depends on separation distance between the telescopes—the baseline—and the short-millimeter radio wavelengths captured around the world. EHT’s finest resolution is achieved by the longest baseline, which for M87 stretches from Hawai’i to Spain and Greenland to Antarctica. To optimize long baseline sensitivity—or make detection possible—the team developed a specialized system which combines all signals from Mauna Kea’s SMA dishes, letting Hawai’i act as a single EHT station.

Beaming-coordinating signals from night-time (western) half of the globe employs optimum use of precious telescope time when the other—Asian—hemisphere is in daylight.

After separately recording signals at all thirteen telescopes, data are flown to a single location and combined by computer to create an image by a virtual Earth-size telescope—first of its kind.

Petabytes, Raw Data and Red Shift
Lindy Blackburn, EHT data processing team leader and coauthor explains that EHT holds millions of gigabytes of data from many telescopes that weren’t originally designed to work together. ‘We developed multiple pathways to process and calibrate data, using new algorithms to stabilize the Earth’s atmosphere and to align the signals from all sites within trillionths of a second precisely.’

Rapidly spinning supermassive hole surrounded by its accretion disc of rotating leftovers from Sun-like star ripped apart by the hole’s tidal force, courtesy ALMA Large Array, Atacama

Telescopes contributing to this result were ALMA*, APEX, the Spanish IRAM 30-meter telescope, the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, the Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano, the Submillimeter Array, the Greenland Submillimeter Telescope, and the South Pole Telescope. Petabytes of raw data from all telescopes were combined by highly specialized supercomputers hosted by the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Munich, and MIT Haystack Observatory, Cambridge, MA.
*Atacama Large Millimeter-Submillimeter Array in Andes high desert, Chile

Global teamwork meant a close collaboration by astrophysicists, technicians and researchers around the world—and a first for science.

Construction of the EHT and this week’s observations represent the culmination of decades of close technical theoretical work. Thirteen partner institutions worked together to create the EHT, using both pre-existing infrastructure and support from a variety of world agencies. Key funding was provided by the US National Science Foundation (NSF), EU’s European Research Council (ERC), and funding agencies in East Asia, above.

On a planetary level, we sci-fi addicts thank the team for rising above national barriers and creating something previously only dreamed of.

On a Cosmic level—look out—unlimited data incoming.
©2019 Siderealview

Canticle for a Lost Nation—Unlocking Ancient Interlace Woven into Cultural Myth

Posted March 17, 2019 by siderealview
Categories: Art, Celtic ritual, culture, language, legends, mythology, pre-Christian, prehistory, ritual, spirituality, world religions

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CANTICLE FOR A LOST NATION
Unlocking the Ancient Interlace woven into Cultural Myth

Neolithic Carved Stone Ball, found at Towie, Aberdeenshire 3000BC, in Museum of Scotland Edinburgh

For a nation proud of its heritage, its oral tradition and roots–supported by faithful descendants in all corners of the globe–we Brittonic Scots are remarkably careless with it. In part this stems from a history of being conquered. But suppressed belief and myth have a way of being treasured: a precious relic to be hidden from secular eyes.

Twenty-first century culture today celebrates fifth-century Brittonic peripatetic monk, Patrick who ‘brought the Church’ to Ireland. They wave shamrocks, hold parades and declare green themes in diverse locales through New York, L.A., Dublin and Hounslow. Rio de Janeiro and Boston, too.

A little background may be in order.

Britannia was an island of subdued people, glad to be abandoned in AD420 when the Romans walked out, left to themselves in a rich land with its own ancient culture.

Many great historical documents have been lost in intervening centuries of ‘acquisition’ or political manipulation by other races since Patrick’s time. He preached when sacred secret knowledge of the Dark Age was kept dark–maintained in recesses of the cultural mind, secrets rehearsed in saga and song–known in the historic Pictish era–to all.

Brittonic Patrick sent as a Slave to Ireland

Illuminated Chi Rho Gk. first letters of name of Christ in A.D. 8thC Celtic gospel Book of Kells, held Trinity College, Dublin

Ninth-century church annals, the Book of Armagh, includes a work by Patrick, his Confessio, in which he describes his life at a Roman villa in Britain, his capture by Irish raiders, and his seven years of slavery in Ireland.

Recovering his freedom, he returned to Roman Britain, recording that he was educated and ordained into the priesthood. He eventually succeeded in being sent as a missionary back to Ireland. He concentrated on the north and west of the country, achieving strong connections.

Patrick never claimed to have converted all of Ireland. But tradition has it that his mission began around A.D. 432. It was C.7th biographers Tirechán and Muirchú who credited him with converting ‘all the Irish to Christianity’ and won for him the status of national apostle.

Confused chronology in Patrick’s life came about when tradition merged the work of two monks—continental Palladius and (‘Irish’) Patrick of the Confessio.

There is not enough evidence to support traditional date, A.D.432, for the start of his mission, but a date of 492/493 is given for his death in Annals and biographies.

Little is known of the first impact of Christianity in Ireland. Traditions in the south and southeast refer to early saints who allegedly preceded St. Patrick, whose missions may have come through trading within the Roman Empire. The earliest date is A.D.431, when St. Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre in Gaul, with the approval of Pope Celestine I, proposed to send ‘Palladius to the Scots believing in Christ.’

After that, missionary history in Ireland is dominated by St. Patrick.

Caledonians Unsubjugated, Rome Withdraws
By A.D.368, just thirty years before Roman withdrawal from Britain, Ammianus Marcellinus describes tribes of the Priteni [Picts] split into two by the Mounth: northern Dicalydones and Verturiones in the south. To Roman authors, Priteni-Britanni were linguistically just another people of Prydein. By the post-Roman Dark Age, Caledonians had re-possessed their northern forests, the Fortriu people their rich lands of Perth and Fife.

Although Scots history is still untaught in schools, few deny knowing that Kenneth mac Alpin, c.AD843, united the kingdoms of Picts and Scots. Fewer seem aware that his dynasty–so bold and so desperate for fertile plains–carefully perpetuated the title of those he deposed, calling themselves Kings of Picts for another sixty years.

Alongside Pictish lands they annexed Pictish Law–a remarkable piece of diplomacy which survives in the basis of Scots law today.

Between the fifth and seventh centuries, the great forests of the Northeast were the domain of kings–Stocket, Kintore, Deer–a resource which ensured royal entertainment [the boar hunt] and feasts [deer and lesser animals] for warriors and entire communities, as well as wealth of timber and grain.

While none but the lordly burned wood in the fireplace of the great hall–most people cast peat for fuel–bounty of the forest—kindling—was available to all. This convention remains today in the understanding between tenant farmer and landowner/laird that while he may not cut down the laird’s trees, all windfall is his.

At least two royal strongholds survive.

These are not small domains like those confirmed in later medieval charters to royal burghs, but whole estates crowned by forests, nourished by rivers and centered round the ‘castle-hill’ [Brit.caer] of a noble family: in the south the Kingdom of Fife points to the king’s mound–Cinrimonaid, St.Andrews—made famous by Constantin king of Picts [789-820]; in the north the Kingdom of Forgue has its Place of Ferendracht–‘place’ in old Scots indicating a ‘peel’ or fortified mound of the heroic age.

There are others.

A.D.5th century pre-Christian Pictish carved stones in Aberdeenshire heartland Romans couldn’t sudue

In the North, earliest placenames give fairly good timelines, where the castle-hill [Brit/Pict. caer, castell] usually denotes early-historic occupation of the pre-Scotic Pictish period, like Kintore, Inverurie, with attendant royal chapels [Lat. capella, Welsh/Brit. eglys]-in the Northeast often seen in telltale ‘chapelton’ within ancient church boundaries, but separate from the later parish church. Compare rath/roth element at Rathmurriel, Rothney in Insch, which derive from 12th century settlements, like Flemings [Flinders] at Leslie.

Second early element Brit. eglys, easily identified south of the Mounth like Ecclesgreig in Mearns, ‘church of Giric’, is more elusive farther north, but does occur. There is one on the Banff coast–conveniently close to Pictish stronghold Dundarg–Strahanglis Point, ‘point of the valley of the church’.

Another clue to Pictish Christian foundations is the presence of a circular enclosed burial ground, like the one at Deskford within the precinct of the medieval laird’s Tower. At Fordyce on the North (Banff) Coast where remains of a Pictish tower dedicated to St. Talorcan stand, there is another. At Tullich-Aboyne one remains where the former church was dedicated to St. Nathalan, [d.679].

Language survival of Pictish Doric in Aberdeen
There are delightfully archaic, short, stubby single-syllable names in the language too, to satisfy our yearning for earliest beginnings.

It helps to remember that the parish system, discarded by modern mapmakers, transmits a clear layout of medieval churchlands, themselves descended from earlier chapels attached to Pictish strongholds.

By the seventh century, Pictish kings were fully Christian, educated from youth in the cultural milieu of a monastery. In the centuries before Gaelic became a court language, it was the language of the Northern Irish Scot [Americans have a convenient term for these Ulstermen: Scots-Irish]. More significantly, it was the language of Irish monastics, keepers of annals, copiers of sacred texts, educators of the nobility.

It is no accident that Iona came into prominence following the ministries of saints like Columba [d.597] and Adamnán [d.704].

The Church was common education for young nobles of ‘all four peoples’ of Britain, according to Northumbrian cleric Bede, writing at the end of the seventh century–Angles, Britons, Picts and Scots. By 690, there was a long tradition of wandering British monks, educated in the Irish church, returning to convert the peoples of their homeland.

Patrick, interestingly, is one of the few Britons who took the Christian message to Ireland [mid-fifth century].

Four apostles in simple illuminated manuscript endpages of Book of Deer, Aberdeenshire, c.f. Book of Kells below

British Ninian, d. c.432, founder of Whithorn in Galloway, is credited with inspiring several Pictish clerics of Northeast tradition. Drostan, Medan and Colm are sixth century saints, giving their names to foundations at Deer/Insch, Pitmedden/Fintray on Donside and St.Coombs in Banff.

Finnian and Brendan, both mid-sixth-century travelers, spread the word and their names to churches planted throughout Pictland; Brendan, known as the wanderer, did his conversions by sea; his name in Banffshire is Brandan or Brangan where his dedications run along the North Coast.

Ethernan patron of Rathen in Buchan died, according to Irish annals, in 669 ‘among the Picts’. He is patron of Kinnernie (Donside) and Banchory-Ternan (Deeside) [contra Brev.Ab where he is called St.Ternanus].

Illuminated apostles: 10thC Iona Book of Kells, now in Trinity College, Dublin shows Matthew as Man, Mark winged Lion, Luke the surgeon as winged Bull and John as Eagle

A contemporary Briton celebrated in southern Pictavia was St. Serf whose dedication at Culsalmond is rare north of the Mounth. St.Sair’s Fair was held here near Colpy until well after the Reformation. His other foundation was at Monkeigy [Keithhall], now Inverurie.

Marnan, 7thC patron of Aberchirder-Marnoch and Leochel, Lumphanan was celebrated long after his death with Marnoch Fair, held traditionally on second Tuesday in March.

Recent research suggests that portable crosses–roughly circular stones like pillows carved with a simple cross and pre-dating the eighth century [class II] Pictish cross slabs were the hallmark of these holy men. They reach far and wide.

Fish-shape ogham carved on rear of Pictish stone at St Fergus Chapel, Dyce-Aberdeen hidden in mortar for 12 centuries

Such compact Christian amulets surface in Aberdeenshire, temptingly close to early foundations. Cross-inscribed stones—with no other ornament—appear at Aboyne, Afforsk, Banchory, Barra, Botriphnie, Bourtie, Clatt, Crathes, Culsalmond, Deer, Dyce, Ellon, Fintray, Inverurie, Kinnernie, Logie-Coldstone, Logie-Elphinstone, Monymusk, Ruthven and Tullich.

A saint’s well where converts were baptized invariably lies close to these foundations. After the patron died, their relics—ranging from pillows of stone to crozier and bell—were treasured by the community.

A Fintray legend persists that St. Medan’s head was kept—wrapped in beaten silver—until melted down to make a communion cup for the (reformed) kirk. The head of the saint was kept at Banchory where t’Ernan’s bell, the ‘Ronnecht’ did not survive the Reformation; t’Ernan was patron of Findon, Arbuthnot and Slains.

One further legacy is the former pagan alphabet—ogham—carved in stone, reintroduced by early pilgrims as means of explaining Christian doctrine to the illiterate. Few remain in the north [Newton, top and Dyce, left] but their clear fish-tail shape had meaning to a populace venerating the salmon, carved locally on pre-Christian Pictish [class I] symbol stones. To new converts it simultaneously represented the fish symbol of Christ, Gk. Ikthos.

Ogham served as (Christian) stopgap until the art of [class II] cross slabs appeared in the next century. These cross-carved monoliths heralded nationwide conversion under King Nechtan who was to drag his kingdom out of the Dark Age and shine the light of revelation into early medieval Europe.
©2019 Marian Youngblood

Warlord Centres of Pictland: a Glimpse into the Lost History of the Scots

Posted January 25, 2019 by siderealview
Categories: Art, Celtic ritual, culture, language, legends, mythology, pre-Christian, prehistory, rites

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Renewed interest in Britain centers on outlying rural (pagan) carved stones & sacred Pictish strongholds/objects left by the Romans when they withdrew in A.D.420. Aberdeenshire heartland holds greatest treasures: Bronze Age beakers in museums; Roman pavements leading to C.5th Pictish carved stones of 12 sacred creatures & symbols; early-Xtian ‘Fite Kirks’ made of stone, when England was living in Dark Age straw huts.

Derilea's Dream: Memoirs of a Pictish Queen

Pictish horse and stronghold mound, Bass, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire

The bard was asked who of the kings of Prydein
is most generous of all
‘And I declared boldly
That it was Owain’
The Gorhoffedd, 12thC heroic poem

The subject of royal lineage brings out the romantic in the scholar and the scholar in the romantic.

Lordship and kingship in a Pictish context has been given both treatments over centuries of scholarship, each with its version of history. Lately tolerance between disciplines allows students of literature, language and art history to communicate with archaeologists and pre-historians in a renewed attempt to investigate the rôle of royal centres in the Pictish kingdom.

Pictish kings and sub-kings ruled a nation which grew from a loose confederation of tribal groups in the third century to become a major political and land-owning force at the time of their takeover by the Scots in the ninth.

To describe them as a lost society…

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Winter Ends with New Year Beginnings

Posted December 21, 2018 by siderealview
Categories: Animal kingdom, Ascension, astronomy, calendar, Celtic ritual, culture, language, legends, pre-Christian, ritual, seasons

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WINTER ENDS with NEW BEGINNINGS
Emerging from the Longest Night into a New Year

It is Solstice—the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. This year—2018—it is also the night of the Full Moon—a cosmic coincidence which will not happen again until 2094.

Hogmanay now a World-Scots Celebration

Traditional Christmas pudding, oozing flaming brandy, courtesy Delia Smith

Meanwhile festivities are revving up for a week of celebrations in all corners of the globe—more glitzy in countries with the Santa Claus connection: the USA welcomes his reindeer to school halls and shopping malls. Yule logs burn in grates from Scandinavia to Scotland.

While New Year’s Eve is still a week away, around the globe Scots are preparing. They have their own name and a long rich heritage associated with the last night of the Old Year—Hogmanay.

Theories abound on the derivation of Hogmanay. While I favor the translation given by the Scots Dictionary—aguillaneuf=gift for a new year, below—there are others. The Scandinavian word for a feast preceding Yule was “Hoggo-nott” while the Flemish words (many have come into Scots) hoog min dag=’great love day’. Hogmanay can be traced back to Anglo-Saxon, Haleg monath, Holy Month, or the Gaelic, oge maidne, new morning.

Remembering that Mary, Queen of Scots grew up as child bride at the French court, the most likely source seems to be the French translated bodily to Scotland with her when she became Queen. ‘Homme est né’ (‘Man is born’) in France is the last day of the year when gifts were exchanged. Aguillaneuf is still celebrated in Normandy, and presents given at that time are hoguignetes.

Tar barrel flaming at Burghead on Auld ‘Eel ends with burning the Clavie at the ‘Doorie’ on the ribs of Pictish promontory beach fort

In Scotland a practice similar to Normandy was recorded, disapprovingly, by the Church:

It is ordinary among some Plebeians in the South of Scotland, to go about from door to door upon New Year`s Eve, crying Hagmane
Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence, 1693

Christmas was not celebrated as a festival and virtually banned in Scotland for 400 years, from Protestant Reformation c.end of C.17th until around 1950s. The reformed Kirk portrayed Christmas as a Popish or Roman Catholic feast and it was forbidden. Many Scots had to work over Christmas and their winter solstice holiday was taken at New Year, when family and friends gathered for a party and to exchange presents—especially for children.

Earliest known Gaulish Coligny ‘moon’ calendar of 13 months dates to A.D. 150

In the earliest known Celtic calendar, the Coligny Calendar of 13 moons (months), now in the Palais des Arts, Lyon, the year began at Samhain, November 1st Fire-Festival of the Dead. At this time the veil between this world and the Otherworld was believed so thin that the dead could return to warm themselves at the hearths of the living. And some living—especially poets, artists, clairvoyants and shaman/healers—were able to enter the Otherworld through the doorways of the sidhe, fairyfolk, like the stone-lined entrance to passage graves in Scotland and Ireland

When the Julian calendar was in place in Rome, the Coligny caledar was seen as the Gaulish equivalent of a 10-month/13moon year, beginning November.

Traditions before midnight on Samhain perpetuated in rural communities when the calendar changed to Gregorian (at the Reformation) such as cleaning the house on 31st December—including taking outside ashes from the fire, when coal fires were in vogue. There was a superstition to clear all debts before “the bells” at midnight.

On the stroke of midnight it is traditional to sing Auld Lang Syne. Robert Burns claimed his verse was based on an earlier fragment, and the melody was in print eighty years before he published in 1788.

Partying from Hallowe’en through Hogmanay
An integral part of Hogmanay partying which continues today is to welcome friends and strangers alike with warm hospitality; and to wish everyone a Guid New Year. The underlying belief is to clear out any vestiges of the old year—ancient tradition included literally sweeping the house clean—and preparing to welcome in a young, fresh New Year on a happy and positive note.

“First footing”—i.e. the first step over the threshold into the house after midnight—is less common now in cities, but continues in rural Scotland. To ensure good luck for the house, the First Foot should be male, dark-haired (believed to be a throwback from Viking days when blond strangers arriving on your doorstep meant trouble) and should bring symbolic coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and/or whisky. These days, however, whisky and perhaps shortbread are the only items still prevalent—and available.

“Handselling” was a custom of gift-giving on the first Monday of the New Year, but this may also have died out.

Magical fireworks displays and torchlight processions through Edinburgh, Elgin and many cities in Scotland are reminiscent of ancient custom at pagan Hogmanay parties which persevered until the late C.20th.

Traditionally one New Year ceremony more reminiscent of American Hallowe’en involved dressing up in cattle hides and running around the village being hit by sticks. The festivities included lighting bonfires, rolling blazing tar barrels down the hill—as is still practised in Burning the Clavie at Burghead, Morayshire—and tossing torches. Animal hide was wrapped around sticks and set on fire. This dense smoke fended off evil spirits. The smoking stick was also known as a Hogmanay.

Giant fireballs hefted by strongarm celebrants swing through Stonehaven harbor near Aberdeen on ‘auld ‘Eel’, old Yule

Some customs continue, especially in small, rural communities in the Highlands and Islands where tradition—along with language and dialect—are kept alive. On Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, young boys form rival bands, the leader of each wearing a sheepskin, while another member carries a sack. The gangs move through the village from house to house reciting a Gaelic rhyme. On being invited inside, the leader walks clockwise around the fire, while everyone hits the skin with sticks. Formerly, the boys would be given bannocks (fruit buns, similar to focaccia) for their sack before moving on to the next house. This tradition is reflected in American Hallowe’en, two months earlier.

Scotland’s Legacy of Ancient Customs
One of the most spectacular fire ceremonies to take place is in Stonehaven, just south of Aberdeen on the Northeast coast. Giant fireballs, weighing up to 20 pounds are lit and swung around on five foot-long metal poles that need sixty men to carry them, as they march up and down the High Street. The origin of this pre-Christian custom is linked to Winter Solstice December 21st, with giant fireballs signifying the power of the sun’s return. The fireballs were believed to purify the world by consuming evil spirits in the New Year.

Confusing Samhain/Hallowe’en with Hogmanay is understandable. Longtime tradition holds them inter-dependent. Only the numbers have changed.

Eagle Nebula Pillars of Creation, NASA Space telescope

A theory of gravity is also a theory of space and time — Albert Einstein

According to current thinking, we have gone beyond conventional spacetime and are now floating somewhere in a ‘construct’ of our own imagination.

One hundred years ago Albert Einstein had his great insight.

A decade afterwards he revised his general relativity to include quantum theory. And yet a century later physicists are still beating the quantum drum, trying to figure how to work outside theoretical time, when physicists have always formulated their theories within a space-time framework.

Let the New Year reveal.
And don’t forget. Raise those glasses on Hogmanay.
©2018 Siderealview

Hallowe’en was Always Weird—A Look at Wynton’s 1420 Chronykil

Posted October 31, 2018 by siderealview
Categories: Art, Authors, calendar, Celtic ritual, culture, language, mythology, rites, ritual, seasons, writing, muse, inspiration

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MACBETH & THE THREE WEIRD SISTERS

The three witches—current version—in forecourt of Glamis Castle, ancient thanage in Angus, Scotland

Andrew Wyntoun, known as Andrew of Wyntoun (c.1350-c.1425), was a Scots poet, canon and prior of Lochleven & St Serf’s Insch, Aberdeenshire, where he is thought to have written this poem to his hero, Macbeth—11thC King of Scots, who died at Lumphanan fifteen miles distant. Wyntoun then became canon at St. Andrews, a most hallowed position for a cleric of his time. His greatest work (1420) is his Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland

‘All night he thought in his dreaming
That sitting he was beside the King
At a seat in hunting where his sire
Unto his leash had greyhounds two
He thought while he was seated thus
He saw three women going by
And those women then thought he
Three weird sisters most likely be

MacBeth cairn, Lumphanan, where the King of Scots was slain by Malcolm in 1057

A nycht he thowcht in hys dreamyng,
That syttand he wes besyd the kyng
At a sete in hwntyng; swa
Intil his leisch had grewhundys; twa
He thowcht, quhile he wes swa syttand,
He sawe threw wemen by gangand;
And thai wemen than thowct he
Thre werd systrys mast lyk to be.

*The first he hard say, gangang by,
‘Lo, yhondyr the Thane of Crumbawchety!’
The tothir woman sayd agane,
‘Of Morave yhondyre I se the thane!’
The thryd than sayd, ‘I se the kyng!’
All this he herd in his dreamyng…
Sone eftyre that, in his yhowthad,
Of thyr thanydoms he thane wes made;

Queen/St. Margaret’s arms—Lion Rampant & sacred Martlets around Christian cross

The fantasy of his dream
Moved him most to slay his overlord
…And Dame Gruoch, his sovereign’s wife
He took and left with her his lands
And held her both as his wife and queen
Which, before then, she had been
To his sovereign—queen living Queen
—who was Kyng with Queen Regnant
For few honours then had he (Macbeth)
Only the grace of lineage affinity

Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor
Shakespeare’s stirring predictions by the three witches to a dreaming king reaching for the throne describe the cauldron scene magnificently. Macbeth will not only become thane (mormaer) of Glamis (Forfar, seat of current Earl of Strathmore), thane of Cawdor (Cawdor Castle is Nairn seat of Campbell Thanes of Cawdor since 1320), but King of Scots—whose royal court in MacBeth’s time was the Palace of Scone, Perthshire.

Dupplin 6thC Pictish Cross Forteviot before removal to museum names Constantin son of Fergus King of Picts

Syne neyst he thowcht to be king,
Fra Dunkanyis dayis had tane endying.
The fantasy thus of his dreme
Movyd hym mast to sla his eme;
As he dyd all furth in-dede,
As before yhe herd one rede,
And Dame Growky, his emys wyf,
Tuk, and lef wyth hyr hys ly,
And held hyr bathe hys wyf and queyne,
As befor than scho had beyne
Till hys eme qwene, lyvand
Quhen he was kyng with crone rygnend
For lytil in honowre than had he
The greys of affynyte.

*Wyntoun’s Cronykil refers to Cawdor in Morayshire, as Moravia, but the closest the first witch comes to Glamis? is the Thanage of Glenbuchat? in nearby Donside as his Crumbuchaty. The second sees him as Thane of Moray, leading to the third witch’s prediction: ‘I see the King’.

Wyntoun clarifies: “Soon after that, still in his youth,
“Of those thanedoms he Thane was made.”

All this when his Lord was dead
He succeeded in his stead;
And seventeen full years he reigned
As King, as he was then, of Scotland.
During his reign were times of plenty
Abounding both on land and sea.
He was in justice right lawful
His laws fair to all.
When Leo X was Pope of Rome
As pilgrim to his court he came
And in his alms he gave silver
To all poor folk who had none
And always tried he to work
Profitably for Holy Kirk

Illuminated apostles: 10thC Iona Book of Kells, now in Trinity College, Dublin show Matthew as Man, Mark winged Lion, Luke surgeon winged Bull, John as Eagle

All thus quhen his eme was dede,
He succeedyt in his stede;
And sevyntene syntyr full rygnand
As kyng-he wes than in-til Scotland.

Corgarff Castle on the Lecht pass military route between Braemar Castle, Ft.George and Cawdor

All hys tyme wes gret plente
Abowndand, bath on land and se.
He was in justice rycht lawchful,
And till hys legis all awful.
Quhen Leo the tend was Pape of Rome,
As pylgryne to the court he come;
And in his almus he sew sylver
Till all pure folk that had myster;
And all tyme oysyd he to wyrk
Profitably for haly kyrke.

Wyntoun extols the virtues of his hero, Macbeth, who claimed the throne of Scotland through his mother’s kinship with Duncan—whom he killed in Elgin (Moravia, Moray). Rival Malcolm also claimed the throne through the female line. In Lumphanan, he succeeded in killing the wounded Macbeth and, (after stepson Lulach’s pitiful six months as king), took the crown to become Malcolm III (Canmore) of Scots in 1058. He married Saint Margaret of Scotland (1070-1093), bringing peace and prosperity to northern lands during his (long) reign of 35 years.

He and Margaret are credited with pulling Scotland out of the Dark Ages and into Medieval Europe.
©2018 Siderealview

Whales, Nuclear ‘Wessels’ and Ocean Clean-Up

Posted July 11, 2018 by siderealview
Categories: Animal kingdom, Climate, environment, Ocean, water, writing, muse, inspiration

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WHALES, NUCLEAR WESSELS AND OCEAN CLEAN-UP
ALAMEDA—Chequered History or Check-Mate?

Alameda—where they keep the Nuclear Wessels, according to Pavel Chekov, in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, 1986

With a flourish of ceremonial shovels, construction began last week on the site of the (closed) U.S. Naval Air Station, on what will become Alameda’s first major market-rate multi-family development in four decades. Alameda Point sits on the North shore of San Francisco Bay, with strategic connections to Oakland, the Sacramento River and the Bay Area.

Manila Bay whale sculpture made entirely from plastic beach waste in Philippines, image courtesy Greenpeace

It will be familiar to vintage Star Trek fans for its connection with whales, nuclear generators and Space. Alameda has tolerated empty lot syndrome since the ‘nineties—vast spaces where appropriate development could enhance the former NAS site, but records of clean-up procedures are causing concern. The Navy contractor’s method of landfill and dumping radio-active soil and ground liquids has been questioned.

Developers for the project assure that testing and re-certification will continue, as old naval buildings and pavement are torn up to make room for the new 70-acre development, known as Site A: it will include 800 residential units, up to 600,000 square feet of commercial space and a ferry terminal that will connect to San Francisco—plus parks and open space.

According to U.S. Navy’s Environmental Coordinator for the Alameda cleanup, Cecily Sabedra:

“Tetra Tech was the contractor who performed environmental investigation and cleanup tasks throughout the former NAS Alameda, including Site A. The Navy’s internal-review safeguards and the regulatory-review process indicate Alameda data are accurate and the work completed to date at Alameda is protective of human health. Quality assurance and quality control measures, including field oversight and data review by Navy personnel and regulatory agencies, have been and continue to be in place at Alameda to verify data are representative of site conditions.”

From Cold War Seaplane Landing to Wildlife Reserve

Old Alameda Naval Air base runways for U.S. fleet flight deck and seaplane landings, now rare bird lagoon

Tetra Tech was deeply involved at another portion of the 2,800-acre Alameda Naval Air Station property, Site 2, which is deemed a toxic Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The station was an active military installation for fleet aviation activities from the 1930s to the 1990s. Former jet runways, and anchorage for Cold War sea planes and Navy submersibles can still be seen.

In Tetra Tech’s 200-page remedial action work plan, submitted to the Navy and other U.S. government agencies in 2013, Site 2 contained radium-226 and other radioactive materials. In the 1940s, workers coated instruments such as dials using a radio-luminescent paint containing the isotope. Rags and paint brushes were then discarded at the site.

Over a period of sixty years, the land had been a dumping ground for other materials like asbestos, pesticides, sandblasting grit, medical waste and tear gas agents. In ‘cleaning’ the area, Tetra Tech bulldozed in a multi-layer soil mix, to cover the old landfill.

Wilderness will Find a Way—Wildlife Move Back In

Osprey landing on rusty light-stand nest to feed young, in former Seaplane Lagoon

Site 2—owned by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs—will remain closed for the ‘foreseeable future’.

Since becoming redundant in the 1990s, Mother Nature has stepped in to reclaim such wasteland: now home to several endangered species of birds. Harbor seals have moved back into the lagoon and this is third year a pair of ospreys have nested on the old light stand at the entrance to Seaplane Lagoon.

After an impasse was reached in 2004 between the U.S. Navy and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (aka Fish & Game) for creation of a national wildlife refuge, the property was offered to the Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.). The V.A. plans to build an outpatient clinic and columbarium on 112 acres of its land, but the other 511 acres of V.A. land will remain undeveloped. The undeveloped area is where egrets and endangered California Least Terns come to nest early April to mid-August each year.

Wild Mountain Lion Migrate Across 101

Baby cougar faces future from her den in Thousand Oaks, Santa Monica mountains

Megalopolis concerns are with a family of cougar kittens in Thousand Oaks, CA.—being monitored/tagged by National Parks Service researchers—where as grown wildcats they will have to cross Highway 101 to find new breeding grounds—the nearest wild forest being several hundred miles to the north. Cougar have had to adapt to urban sprawl before. Most famous is Parks’ Service favorite, “P-22” who crossed several freeways in Santa Monica, headed south into Los Angeles and took up residence in downtown Griffith Park.

He’s still there. What a Cool Cat.

San Francisco’s former military HQ, the Presidio, with its unparalleled view of the Golden Gate Bridge, has become a model for native plant species and habitat restoration since 1994. That year, the U.S. military machine turned its back on war and handed the land over to the National Parks Service. It subsequently created the Presidio Trust which now oversees 80% of the park. Here endangered and indigenous plant life is being nurtured back to profusion by Parks’ botanists, with a little nightly help from vole, gopher, racoon, fox and coyote. The bears left a long time ago—ages before it was a military stronghold.

Chernobyl nuclear hazard sign after April 26, 1986 explosion blanketed Europe in radio-active fog for a week


Encouragingly, wildlife in Chernobyl, a former 50,000-population density town in Ukraine within a 1,000-sq.mile forest (4300km2 Chernobyl Exclusion Zone) are moving through the irradiated landscape in droves, and showing little sign of becoming mutants. European research teams have been tracking population growth of wolves, bear, mountain lion and multiple migrating birds for over a decade, and proclaim so far no adverse genetic change.

Crop Circles Echo a Nuclear Warning

Nuclear warning by crop circle? Latest to appear in Wiltshire field near Stonehenge, drone shot courtesy Nick Bull

Even our crop circling Alien friends seem concerned for our welfare. The latest—July 8th, 2018—depicting a nuclear device—appeared overnight in unharvested wheat in Coneybury Hill, near Stonehenge, Wiltshire. Whereas Salisbury farmers were formerly stressed over public trespass and crop trampling, they now tolerate drone fly-overs and crop circle photography has taken an upswing.

There are positive aspects to our human concern for proliferating the planet with our own waste. As we become aware of our past destructive habits, like dumping plastic in the ocean—the city of New York only stopped dumping municipal waste by barge into the Atlantic in 1992—we discover alternative methods of clean-up.

Within the last five years Woods Hole, Massachusetts marine microbiologists have recorded a reduction in marine plastic waste in world oceans.

They are convinced it is being eaten.

Leave it to the Micro-Plankton
NOAA has recorded a massive 90% drop in ocean pollution statistics worldwide since 2011, declaring there is no Pacific garbage patch.

Marine bacteriologists are convinced, however, that, as plastic degrades through sunlight and the wave action of salt water into the tiniest fragments, this plastic confetti becomes the preferred diet of micro-organisms who attach to such clustered ‘reefs’ of food, extracting toxins in their digestion.

Casualty on Huntington Beach—at least he pecked his way through the bag

”Plastic-eating bacteria help explain why the amount of debris in the ocean has levelled off, despite continued pollution. But researchers don’t yet know whether their digestion produces harmless by-products, or whether it might introduce toxins into the food chain.”
Tracy Mincer, Marine Microbiologist Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

If NOAA’s “missing 90%” of microscopic plastic fragments in the oceans is being eaten—mostly by bacteria and other microbes—these little microscopic helpers will continue to eat the plastic. If we can reduce the amount of plastic going into the oceans, via our beaches, they may eventually eat it all up.

Wouldn’t that be a world initiative worth achieving?

Seattle and Starbucks have banned the use of plastic utensils and cups; and Hawai’i has agreed to ban all commercial sunscreens as of January 2021, to help slow coral reef decay.

If we continue with responsible water cleanup worldwide—as some humanitarian philanthropists are currently showing the way—we ‘oldies’ may emerge from the “Plastic Age” unscathed, sooner than our grandchildren predict.

Then we, the guilty, messy generation, can turn the tables on our former selves and become our own success story.
©2018 Siderealview

Giza’s Electric Pyramid Lighting Ancient Techno Tombs

Posted January 26, 2018 by siderealview
Categories: Art, culture, geometry, pre-Christian, rites, ritual, sacred geometry

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NEW PYRAMID SCIENCE MAY UPSTAGE KING TUTANKHAMUN
Science Exhibit in Los Angeles March 24th, 2018

The California Science Center, in cooperation with Cairo’s GEM [Great Egyptian Museum] is taking a 3,300 year glimpse back in time as part of a new exhibit displaying authentic artifacts from King Tutankhamun’s tomb.

The exhibit, titled “King Tut: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh,” opens March 24th, and will feature more than 150 artifacts from the young king’s tomb, many of which were used by him in life—and after death.

Egypt antiquities’ chief Zahi Hawass removes linen-wrapped mummy of King Tutankhamun from his stone sarcophagus in the Valley of the Kings Luxor, November 2007

The precious relics include gold jewelry, gilded wood furniture and ornate ritual objects, sixty of which the Center confirms have never before been seen outside Egypt. Visitors will be able to marvel at rings found on the young King’s fingers, jewelry that adorned his body and golden sandals placed on his feet for his burial rite.

“King Tut: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh,” is being billed as the largest Tut-ankh-amun exhibit ever, as the priceless treasures, after the tour, will return to Egypt ‘forever’.

YOUNG TEENAGER AS KING OF ALL PHARAOHS

Howard Carter reveals gold death mask of young Tutankhamun in 1922 Luxor excavation

The young king’s fame shocked pre-Victorian England, as Howard Carter’s excavation in 1922 was responsible for nearly one-third of the then British Museum’s ‘oriental’ department—including the five-thousand-year old Assyrian Gate Guardians, still housed in London. Tutankhamun, was the son of famed Egyptian beauty Queen Nefertiti and her [banished after his death] husband King Akhenaten. The teenager king even had his name changed [from Tut-ankh-Aten, after his father’s faith], when he took the throne briefly as pharaoh for ten years until his death aged 19, around 1324 B.C.

Neighboring Pyramids Shone Light
Within a camel’s spit of Luxor still stands the Great Pyramid of Egypt—the last of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World. Ancestor of Tutankhamun by another thousand years, the tomb for Pharaoh Khufu—Gk.Cheops—sits on the Giza plateau a mile and a half SW of Egypt’s capitol Cairo, and it’s huge.

Full height:from erosion, slightly less than 147 meters/482ft. high and 230.4m/755ft.9ins on each triangular side. It was constructed out of approx. 2.3 million limestone and rose quartz granite blocks, cut hundreds of miles away, and hauled (somehow) to the site.

Fourth dynasty pharaoh Khufu and his pyramid—now more accurately dated to 2560 B.C., have long posed some fascinating but irritating mysteries:
How did the ancient Egyptians transport all of these stones to Giza?
How did they build such a monumental object?
What superhuman technology was used to raise stone to that height?

Howard Carter, left, at 1922 excavation as Tutankhamun grave treasures emerge after 3500 years in their tomb

All sorts of exotic ideas have been floated, including assistance from aliens visiting earth.

Now, as the result of an amazing find in a cave 606 kilometers-300 miles away, an answer has come in the form of 4,600-year-old, bound papyrus scrolls—the oldest papyri ever found. They’re the journal of one of the managers who helped build the Great Pyramid. It’s the only eye-witness account of building the Great Pyramid that’s ever been found.

Did rose quartz slabs arrive at Giza by camel or by canal boat? Newly discovered papyrus reveals all

Written by a scribe named Merer, who reported to “the noble Ankh-haf,” Khufu’s half-brother, it describes, among other subjects, a halt of his 200-man crew in the Tura—Maaasara—limestone quarries on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Suez, and filling up their boat for the seven-to-eight mile sail back up the river to Giza. Since this type of limestone was used for the pyramid’s outer casing, the journal is believed to document work on the tomb during the final year of Khufu’s life, around 2560 B.C.

Snake as Electrical Medium
The most widely quoted evidence that ancient Egyptians used electricity is a relief found beneath the Temple of Hathor at Dendera, which shows figures standing around a large light-bulb-like object.

‘Light-bulb’ crypt engraving under Dendera Temple of Hathor, Egypt, photo Lasse Jensen

The socket is represented by what appears to be a lotus flower with a stem that runs like a cable along the bottom of the “device.” Inside the “bulb” is a snake-like line winding its way out of a lotus flower socket. According to the current followers, it depicts an electrical light, the snake representing the filament of the bulb.

The Baghdad Battery dating from 250 B.C.-A.D.250 was a simple version of today’s batteries—a clay jar with a stopper made of asphalt. Through the stopper is an iron rod surrounded by a copper cylinder. It is believed that the jar would have been filled with a common acidic substance, like vinegar, that would allow it to produce about 1.1 volts of electricity. Replicas of the battery have shown it works.

1.1 volts may not seem like a lot, but if several of these batteries are strung together, the voltage increases. They were used in early electroplating—bonding a layer of one metal on another.

Some claim that one of the most iconic structures in Egypt is the most misunderstood device on the planet. Specifically, supporters of the ancient Egyptian electricity hypothesis say the Great Pyramid of Giza was actually used as a power plant.

Giza’s Great Pyramid, its quartz crystals shone in sunlight, tunnels of limestone lit it up at night

The King’s Chamber is located in the heart of the Great Pyramid and was once the central power generating apparatus of the super structure. It is constructed primarily of pink granite, a material rich in micro-quartz-crystals.

The Great Pyramid is mostly pink granite, and granite is made up of tiny quartz crystals which, when exposed to pressure or energy vibrations, generate electricity. This is its the piezoelectric effect.

Desert Caravans and Ships Loaded with Treasure
Now it has come to light that the pink granite—and copper for plating or wiring within the tomb—was quarried on the shores of the Red Sea, dug, shaped and transported by a community of 3,000 laborers, who lived and worked by the quarries, sending their treasure back by boat, via Suez and Cairo, to Giza, 300 miles away.

In the Egyptian resort town of Ayn Soukhna, along the west coast of Suez, Egyptian heiroglyphs were first found on cliff walls in 1997 by French Sorbonne archaeologist Pierre Tallet.

“I love rock inscriptions—they give you a page of history without excavating.”
Pierre Tallet on discovery of Suez papyrus

He read one from the newly-discovered papyri: “In year one of the king, they sent a troop of three thousand men to fetch copper, turquoise and all the good products of the desert.”

Egyptian boat-building for transporting granite blocks and copper along 300 miles of waterways

Then a series of caves was uncovered—a hidden harbor and storage for river vessels, completely confounding experts who were critical of Egyptian seafaring capabilities. Docks and loading bays were unearthed, the caves themselves being methodically cut into precision blocks for transportation back for Khufu’s tomb. The desert was unveiling its treasures, but it wasn’t going by overland caravan. Khufu’s project was high priority, but the quarries were closed again, after the Great Pyramid was complete. Effort required to transport two and a half million rose granite and limestone blocks for 300 miles was a single daunting task.

Excel Spreadsheet of the Ancient World

Cairo’s GEM Museum experts visited Wadi al-Jarf and concur with Tallet about its meaning: “The power and purity of the site is so Khufu,” GEM’s Zahi Hawass agreed. The scale and ambition and sophistication of the site—size of the galleries cut out of rock like Amtrak train garages, huge hammers made out of hard black diorite they found, imposing scale of the harbor, the clear and orderly writing of the hieroglyphs in the papyri, which Tallet likened to “Excel spreadsheets of the ancient world”—all of it has clarity, logic, power and sophistication of the pyramids, with particular characteristics of Khufu and the early fourth dynasty.

GEM—while understandably wrapped up in the secure transportation of the Golden Pharaoh to Los Angeles—believe the pyramid stones were transported by boat from ports like Wadi al-Jarf and Ayn Soukhna via canals to the construction site at Giza, because the ancient Egyptians were master builders of such waterways for annual irrigation.

GEM and California Science Center, L.A. are celebrating a trans-cultural success in the prelude to its March 24th opening, and we in the Archives wish them great good fortune. It is our cultural similarities/differences which surge when we humans try a little harder to get along.
©Siderealview 2018


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