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Oldest recorded solar eclipse occurred 3,200 years ago

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Solar eclipse

Cambridge University researchers have pinpointed the date of what could be the oldest solar eclipse yet recorded. The event, which occurred on October 30, 1207 BC, is mentioned in the Bible, and could help historians to date Egyptian pharaohs.

“Solar eclipses are often used as a fixed point to date events in the ancient world,” said Professor Colin Humphreys from University of Cambridge’s Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy.

Using a combination of the biblical text and an ancient Egyptian text, the researchers were able to refine the dates of the Egyptian pharaohs, in particular, the dates of the reign of Ramesses the Great, according to the study published in the journal Astronomy & Geophysics.

The biblical text in question comes from the Old Testament book of Joshua and has puzzled biblical scholars for centuries.

It records that after Joshua led the people of Israel into Canaan, a region of the ancient Near East that covered modern-day Israel and Palestine – he prayed: “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon. And the Sun stood still, and the Moon stopped until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.”

“If these words are describing a real observation, then a major astronomical event was taking place – the question for us to figure out is what the text actually means,” Humphreys said.

“Modern English translations, which follow the King James translation of 1611, usually interpret this text to mean that the Sun and Moon stopped moving,” Humphreys said.

“But going back to the original Hebrew text, we determined that an alternative meaning could be that the Sun and Moon just stopped doing what they normally do: they stopped shining. In this context, the Hebrew words could be referring to a solar eclipse, when the Moon passes between the earth and the Sun, and the Sun appears to stop shining,” Humphreys said.

This interpretation is supported by the fact that the Hebrew word translated ‘stand still’ has the same root as a Babylonian word used in ancient astronomical texts to describe eclipses, he added.

Independent evidence that the Israelites were in Canaan between 1500 and 1050 BC can be found in the Merneptah Stele, an Egyptian text dating from the reign of the Pharaoh Merneptah, son of the well-known Ramesses the Great, the study said.

The large granite block, held in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, says that it was carved in the fifth year of Merneptah’s reign and mentions a campaign in Canaan in which he defeated the people of Israel.

Earlier historians had used these two texts to try to date the possible eclipse, but were not successful as they were only looking at total eclipses, in which the disc of the Sun appears to be completely covered by the moon as the moon passes directly between the earth and the sun.

What the earlier historians failed to consider was that it was instead an annular eclipse, in which the Moon passes directly in front of the Sun, but is too far away to cover the disc completely, the researchers said.

In the ancient world, the same word was used for both total and annular eclipses.

The researchers developed a new eclipse code, which takes into account variations in the Earth’s rotation over time.

From their calculations, they determined that the only annular eclipse visible from Canaan between 1500 and 1050 BC was on 30 October 1207 BC, in the afternoon.

If their arguments are accepted, it would not only be the oldest solar eclipse yet recorded, it would also enable researchers to date the reigns of Ramesses the Great and his son Merneptah to within a year.

Using these new calculations, the researchers determined that Ramesses the Great reigned from 1276-1210 BC, with a precision of plus or minus one year.(IANS)

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Most of 2030’s Jobs Haven’t Been Invented Yet

In theory, this kind of online job matching could lead to less bias and discrimination in hiring practices. However, there are potential pitfalls.

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JOBS
In theory, this kind of online job matching could lead to less bias and discrimination in hiring practices. However, there are potential pitfalls.

More than two-thirds of jobs that today’s college students will have in 11 years haven’t been invented yet.

“Those who plan to work for the next 50 years, they have to have a mindset of like, ‘I’m going to be working and learning and working and learning, and working and learning,’ in order to make a career,” says Rachel Maguire, a research director with the Institute for the Future, which forecasts that 85 percent of the jobs that today’s young people will hold in 2030 don’t exist right now.

The Institute for the Future, a nonprofit that identities emerging trends and their impacts on global society, envisions that by 2030, we’ll be living in a world where artificial assistants help us with almost every task, not unlike the way email tries to finish spelling a word for users today.

Maguire says it will be like having an assistant working alongside you, taking on tasks at which the human brain does not excel.

“For the human, for the people who are digitally literate who are able to take advantage, they’ll be well-positioned to elevate their position, elevate the kind of work they can do, because they’ve got essentially an orchestra of digital technologies that they’re conducting,” she says. “They’re just playing the role of a conductor, but the work’s being done, at least in partnership, with these machines.”

New technology in the next decade is expected to lead to new human-machine partnerships that will make the most of each partner's respective strengths.
New technology in the next decade is expected to lead to new human-machine partnerships that will make the most of each partner’s respective strengths. VOA

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says today’s students will have eight to 10 jobs by the time they are 38.

And they won’t necessarily have to take time away from any one of those jobs for workforce training or to gain additional certifications related to their fields. Instead, they’ll partner with machines for on-the-job learning, wearing an augmented reality headset that will give them the information they need in real-time to get the work done.

“It eliminates the need for people to step away from income generating opportunities to recertify in order to learn a new skill so they can level up and earn more money,” Maguire says. “It gives the opportunity for people to be able to learn those kinds of new skills and demonstrate proficiency in-the-moment at the job.”

Students use virtual reality for an immersive educational experience. VR blocks out the physical world and transports the user to a simulated world. (Courtesy Dell.com)
Students use virtual reality for an immersive educational experience. VR blocks out the physical world and transports the user to a simulated world. (Courtesy Dell.com) VOA

And forget about traditional human resources departments or the daunting task of looking for a job on your own. In the future, the job might come to you.

Potential employers will draw from different data sources, including online business profiles and social media streams, to get a sense of a person and their skill set.

Maquire says there’s already a lot of activity around turning employment into a matchmaking endeavor, using artificial intelligence and deep learning to help the right person and the right job find each other.

In theory, this kind of online job matching could lead to less bias and discrimination in hiring practices. However, there are potential pitfalls.

“We have to be cognizant that the people who are building these tools aren’t informing these tools with their own biases, whether they’re intentional or not,” Maguire says. “These systems will only be as good as the data that feeds them.”

Also Read: Migrant Caravan Still Stuck in Mexico Shelter, Frustration Grows By Every Passing Day

Which leads Maguire to another point. While she doesn’t want to sound melodramatic or evangelical about emerging technologies, she believes it is critical for the public to get engaged now, rather than sitting back and letting technology happen to them.

“What do we want from these new technological capabilities, and how do we make sure we put in place the social policies and the social systems that will result in what it is we all want?” she says. “I have a deep concern that we’re just kind of sitting back and letting technology tell us what jobs we’ll have and what jobs we won’t have, rather than us figuring out how to apply these technologies to improve the human condition.” (VOA)