Lecture3

Lecture3 - The Ancient Roots of Science The Science of...

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1 The Science of Astronomy The Science of Astronomy Callanish The Ancient Roots of Science The Ancient Roots of Science In what ways do all humans employ scientific thinking? How did astronomical observations benefit ancient societies? What did ancient civilizations achieve in astronomy? Our goals for learning: There are two Extra Credit opportunities – see class web page. One, the Telescope Viewing Exercise, is on campus every Wednesday night – weather permitting. Start soon! http://www.astro.ucla.edu/planetarium/ In what ways do all humans In what ways do all humans employ scientific thinking? employ scientific thinking? • Scientific thinking is based on everyday ideas of observation and trial-and-error experiments . • It is something we all do – especially as children. • Scientists are just trained to be more disciplined in this procedure and therefore become less prone to jumping to conclusions or simply believing in something without examining the evidence. If you take only one thing from this class, let it be the determination to ask “why” … just like you did when you were a child: Prof. McLean How did astronomical observations How did astronomical observations benefit ancient societies? benefit ancient societies? Astronomy is the oldest science • There is ample evidence that ancient peoples observed and catalogued the motions of the sky •WHY? – for practical purposes, like agriculture – for religious and ceremonial purposes Aid to navigation Ancient people of central Africa (6,500 BC) could predict seasons from the orientation of the “horns” of the crescent moon relative to the horizon
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2 What did ancient civilizations What did ancient civilizations achieve in astronomy? achieve in astronomy? • daily timekeeping • tracking the seasons and • making accurate calendars finding ways to mark solstices and equinoxes • monitoring lunar cycles 19 years = 235 lunar cycles (the Metonic cycle) • monitoring planets and stars • predicting eclipses and more… Egyptian obelisk: shadows tell time of day. Giant sundials! Mexico: model of the Aztec Templo Mayor (near Mexico City). From the opposite side of the plaza, the Sun rose directly through the notch between the temples on the equinoxes. Impressive ancient structures constructed with Impressive ancient structures constructed with astronomical events in mind astronomical events in mind England: Stonehenge (1550 B.C.) England: Stonehenge (1550 B.C.) SW United States: “Sun Dagger” marks summer solstice. Built by the Anasazi, this is an arrangement of rocks that shape sunlight into a dagger that pierces the spiral pattern in the rock only at noon on the summer solstice.
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3 Scotland : A 4,000-year-old stone circle; the full Moon rises at its most southern point along the east horizon as shown here only once every 18.6 years. (At Callanish in the Hebrides.) Yucatan, Mexico : Mayan Observatory at Chichen Itza
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Lecture3 - The Ancient Roots of Science The Science of...

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