Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Party like it's 2006 or 1206 or 942 or ...

Does anyone know what time it is?

I read a review in today's Journal of a book called "The Lost Millennium: History's Timetables Under Siege" written by University of Victoria mathematician Florin Diacu (and based on the time theories of Russian Scientist Anatoly Fomenko). The book explores an intellectual puzzle that concerned scientists as far back as Johannes Kepler and Isaac Newton (who raised serious questions about our traditional chronology) and contains long mathematical arguments including theories on celestial mechanics, graphs and algebraic formulae.

We've known for centuries that legitimate disputes about our history's timeline exist, especially in the biblical sense (Gregorian monks screwed up the birth year of Jesus). But now it seems our beloved calendar could be off by as much as 800 or 1000 years.

According to Fomenko, the Middle Ages did not last 1,000 years, (a time typically explained away as when human progress ground to a halt) but more like two centuries. He believes the mistake began in the 1500s when our current system of counting the years came into effect. Furthermore, some modern scientists using references to celestial events (like lunar and solar eclipses) in ancient documents now believe that our recorded history really begins about 800 AD/CE. For example - the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta (one of the few events in Ancient Greek history that can be given an exact date and therefore anchors Greek Chronology) is dated by Thucydides who mentions three eclipses in the first 18 years of the war (a sequence that scholars had traditionally placed from 431 to 413 BC/BCE). But Fomenko's work shows those eclipses occurred from 1039 to 1057 CE, almost 15 centuries later.

Consider what this could mean.

Ever get that matrixy feeling that time - the concept that drives all of us in one way or another - is completly fabricated and relevant only to the situation at hand?

Given my particular area of study in University, this theory would have a large impact on how I understood certain developments in the human condition. I think I am going to have to get this book.

2 comments:

Jon said...

Interesting...

Although it is hard to wrap your head around the concept that someting that you thought occured 2500 years ago actually happened only 1000 years go, it really doesn't impact our current reality.

Actually, it would make me even more impressed with the ability of the human mind to come up with the technology, literature and science that we currently have today. If we could have went from bronze modes of transportation, agritculture, weapons and societies to what we have today in less than a 1000 years, I would be quite thrilled.

Imagine what we could think of next...

I would also probably point out that this person's theory probably has 1000 holes in it as well. Although our science behind it could be flawed, I wonder how radio carbon dating applies to this theory.

Allie said...

I agree with the likeihood of holes in the argument, although I'd have to read the book to get the full argument... but I looked for it today and couldn't find it, which probably means I will have to pay University bookstore prices...

:-)