Imagine it’s 1178 BC and you’re in the middle of writing one of the most essential works in the western canon, when all of the sudden an intense eclipse takes form ominously in the distance, leaving an indelible mark on an important passage in book 20. As the exhaustive research of the mathematical physicist Marcelo Magnasco reveals, this is exactly what happened to Homer on April 16th of that year, when he was penning “Theoclymenus’s prophecy” and a total lunar eclipse fell over the Ionian Islands. The passage, as Magnasco suggests in today’s Big Think interview, thus acts as a description of the baffling phenomenon.
In order to illustrate this, Magnasco tracked references in the text to Mercury, Venus, and the moon in relation to the rotation of these celestial bodies between the years 1250-1115 B.C., a process which left this day as the only suitable date.
Sound esoteric? Maybe, but Magnasco’s research also represents a valuable merger between the sciences and the humanities, employing the tools of the modern era to shed new light on some of the humanities’ centuries-old academic impasses. Imagine, for instance, if an analogous technique were applied to dating, say, The Old Testament.
Magnasco performed this research as a hobby, and his day-job as the head of Rockfeller University’s Lab of Mathematical Physics has yielded a number of other equally fascinating findings. He has, for instance, been a pioneering figure in discovering how our mind actually processes the information derived from our senses, demonstrating, for example, that what we hear actually has a powerful influence on what we see.
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Here are 7 often-overlooked World Heritage Sites, each with its own history.
- UNESCO World Heritage Sites are locations of high value to humanity, either for their cultural, historical, or natural significance.
- Some are even designated as World Heritage Sites because humans don't go there at all, while others have felt the effects of too much human influence.
- These 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites each represent an overlooked or at-risk facet of humanity's collective cultural heritage.
Famous physicists like Richard Feynman think 137 holds the answers to the Universe.
- The fine structure constant has mystified scientists since the 1800s.
- The number 1/137 might hold the clues to the Grand Unified Theory.
- Relativity, electromagnetism and quantum mechanics are unified by the number.
A new method promises to capture an elusive dark world particle.
- Scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) devised a method for trapping dark matter particles.
- Dark matter is estimated to take up 26.8% of all matter in the Universe.
- The researchers will be able to try their approach in 2021, when the LHC goes back online.
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