Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Directed panspermia

Panspermia - the idea that life exist across the whole Universe and it can be transferred from one location to another.

Directed panspermia - the idea that life might have been intentionally spread throughout space and seeded on the surface of other worlds by a guiding intelligence.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Darwin's lost fossils found by British scientists

The fossils, lost for some 165 years, including some collected by Charles Darwin, has been re-discovered in an old dusty cabinet, found by chance in the vaults of the British Geological Survey HQ near Keyworth, UK. They were collected in the 1830s in South America during his five-year voyage on HMS Beagle.
The find was made by the palaeontologist Dr Howard Falcon-Lang. He spotted some drawers in a cabinet marked "unregistered fossil plants". Using a flashlight to peer into the drawers and hold up a slide, Falcon-Lang saw one of the first specimens he had picked up was labeled "C. Darwin Esq." "Inside the drawer were hundreds of beautiful glass slides made by polishing fossil plants into thin translucent sheets," Dr Falcon-Lang explained.
Experts say the find sheds new light on this formative period for Darwin, then in his 20s, whose study of tropical plants and wildlife set the stage for his ground-breaking theory of evolution.
Falcon-Lang's find was a collection of 314 slides of specimens gathered by Darwin and other members of his inner circle, including John Hooker, a botanist and dear friend of Darwin, and Rev. John Henslow, Darwin's mentor at Cambridge, whose daughter later married Hooker, include 40million-year-old plants from a remote island off the coast of Chile. Another shows a towering tree-sized fungus which covered the Earth 400million years ago when the climate was so hot there was no ice even at the Poles.
Dr John Ludden, executive director of the Geological Survey said: "This is quite a remarkable discovery. It really makes one wonder what else might be hiding in our collections." "It really makes one wonder what else might be hiding in our collections," he said.

The fossils have now been photographed and are available to the public through a new online museum exhibit released today.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mercator Projection

Mercator was the first to map the whole world in one book, which he baptised ‘atlas’.
The Mercator projection was developed in 1569 by by the Belgian geographer and cartographer Gerardus Mercator as a navigation tool. The grid is rectangular and lines of latitude and longitude are all parallel. The Mercator projection distorts the size and shape of large objects, as the scale increases from the Equator to the poles, where it becomes infinite.

Thanks to a rich uncle, Mercator was able to get the best teaching, with the humanist playwright Marcropedius in’s Hertogenbosch, the Frisian geographer Gemma Frisius and at the workshop of the talented goldsmith, engraver and globe builder, Amyricius, in Leuven. After his studies and apprenticeship Mercator established himself as an independent instrument builder and took his first steps as a geographer and globe builder for important clients like Charles V.

The development of the Mercator projection represented a major breakthrough in the nautical cartography of the 16th century. However, it was much ahead of its time, since the old navigational and surveying techniques were not compatible with its use in navigation.

The Oronteus Finaeus Map of 1532

This map was found in the Library of Congress, Washington DC in 1960 by Charles Hapgood. It was drawn by Oronteus Finaeus in 1531. Charles Hapgood displayed a map showing the mythical continent of Atlantis in the center of the Atlantic Ocean. Based on the fact that the Atlantis continent had a superficial resemblance to Antarctica, the conclusion was made that Antarctica must be the lost continent of Atlantis. This fact itself is a mystery, since the continent of Antarctica was not supposed to have been discovered for another 200 years or so.
As with the Piri Reis map, Antarctica is shown to be ice free with flowing rivers, drainage patterns and clean coastline. Some of the mountain ranges shown were only discovered recently. The deep interior didn't show any rivers or mountains which some believe means it was already covered in ice at the time. The Oronteus Finaeus map is more accurate than any other map of the same time. In fact, it is more accurate than any map made anywhere up to the year 1800.

Although there are fairly obvious similarities between the general depiction of the southern continent by Orontius Finaeus and modern maps of Antarctica, they do not stand up to close scrutiny; indeed, there are more differences than similarities, much as one would expect from a map drawn without genuine knowledge of the southern continent! To show that Orontius’s Terra Australis corresponds to the outline of Antarctica, it was necessary for Hapgood to make some changes. Just as with his treatment of Piri’s map, Hapgood also had to shuffle whole sections of coastline to make them fit. It is unclear how the hypothesised original map had become fragmented and wrongly recombined; it is even more unclear how the fringe writers can go on to claim that various geographical features are shown in their correct places and at the correct scale.

Another tidbit of proof is the Ross sea. Today huge glaciers feed into it, making it a floating ice shelf hundreds of feet thick. Yet this map and the Reis map show estuaries and rivers at the site.

In 1949 coring was done to take samples of the ice and sediment at the bottom of the Ross Sea. They clearly showed several layers of stratification, meaning the area went through several environmental changes. Some of the sediments were of the type usually brought down to the sea by rivers. Tests done at the Carnegie Institute in Washington DC, which date radioactive elements found in sea water, dated the sediments at about 4000 BC, which would mean the area was ice free with flowing rivers up until that time - exactly what is recorded on the Reis and Finaeus maps.

The main question is: How Oronteus Finaeus managed to do that?...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Piri Reis map

The story of the Piri Reis map is the story of how a perfectly innocent 16th-century navigational chart can end up, through no fault of its own, at the centre of a crackpot theory about our planet’s ancient history.

The Piri Reis Map is named for a Turkish cartographer who compiled the map in 1513. It was later presented to the Ottoman Sultan Selim I in 1517. It lay hidden away for centuries until its discovery in 1929 as Topkapi Palace was converted into a museum.

His passion was cartography. His high rank within the Turkish navy allowed him to have a privileged access to the Imperial Library of Constantinople. The Turkish admiral admits in a series of notes on the map that he compiled and copied the data from a large number of source maps, some of which dated back to the fourth century BC or earlier.

The map is a portolan chart, a common form at this time. Instead of latitude and longitude grids, compass roses were placed at key points with azimuths radiating from them. That said, the east-west lines through the small rose off South America in the center of the map are a very good approximation to the Equator, both there and with respect to Africa. The small one at the very top of the map is a very good estimate of 45 north where the east-west azimuth hits the coast of France. The two big compass roses in mid-Atlantic are harder to place. They might locate the tropic lines (23-1/2 north and south) or they could represent 22-1/2 latitude (one-fourth of the way from equator to pole). Considering they are a bit closer to 45 degrees than the equator, the tropic lines are the best bet.

Piri wrote about his sources in one of the map’s marginal notes:
In this century there is no map like this map in anyone’s possession. The hand of this poor man has drawn it and now it is constructed from about twenty charts and Mappae Mundi (these are charts drawn in the days of Alexander, Lord of the Two Horns, which show the inhabited quarter of the world; the Arabs name these charts Jaferiye), from eight Jaferiyes of that kind and one Arabic map of Hind, and from the maps just drawn by four Portuguese which show the countries of Hind, Sind and China geometrically drawn, and also from a map drawn by Colombo in the western region. By reducing all these maps to one scale this final form was arrived at. So that the present map is as correct and reliable for the Seven Seas as the maps of our own countries are considered correct and reliable by seamen.
Ironically, it is the map’s correctness and reliability that has since become the issue.
The map seems to show more detail than Europeans were likely to have in 1513. He hadn't been to Peru, yet, so how did Piri Reis know about the Andes? Did somebody hear tales of mountains far inland? Also, the detail on the South American coast seems a bit rich for 1513. Was the map begun then and completed later? Was the map copied later and the date miscopied? But if the map was derived from ancient sources that contained details otherwise unknown to Europeans, why are so many parts of it so crude?

In the end, all indcitates that Piri Reis must had help from some extraordinary sources like:
  • aliens
  • future us
  • divine being