Friday, 22 May 2015

A view from a satellite

View from a satellite looking roughly westwards over a computer simulated landscape of the Preseli Mountains:

View from a satellite looking roughly eastwards over a computer simulated landscape of the Preseli Mountains:

Both of these pictures look fairly ordinary. But one of the two must be looking down: Feddau is below Eryr in the first picture and Eryr is below Feddau in the second picture. But if one is looking down, where is the horizon?

This is a question I was asked on the Simon Mayo show: Can you see the curvature of the Earth from a mountain? The answer is that you can see a disk shape, but the disk you can see is not necessarily the curvature of the Earth: You could be on a flat disk. However, from two tall mountains of the same height, you can prove that the Earth is curved if you can see the horizon (below the slope of the other mountain) at sunrise: Sunrise or sunset is the time that the horizon can be precisely seen.

The angles involved are tiny: This experiment with mountain peaks only seems to work at a place called Preseli in Wales where two high mountain peaks are approximately of the same height, are aligned approximately east-west and have no obscured views for a long distance in either direction: The angles to the horizon at this particular height would show that Ireland and England would not exist if you are on a flat disk.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Sky Stands Still: Stonehenge

Theme tune "Sky Stands Still" incorporates ideas of Heavens' Henge (Stonehenge). This was produced for the film "The Principle", for which I had a small consulting role

Saturday, 27 September 2014


Newgrange’s layout, arrangements and symbols are shown to be the same as those required to establish that the sun has a fixed spiral ‘orbit’, allowing an idealised geocentric description of the Universe to be developed elsewhere (such as at Avebury and Stonehenge). Its inner stone monument is demonstrated to be capable of focusing solar light, using a simple method not relying on glass, to allow extremely accurate measurement.

The contention of this paper is that Newgrange was a device, part of a series of devices, that allowed subsequent structures (such as Stonehenge) to be developed as a depository of knowledge about the Universe and a place of learning designed for popular interest.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Happiness is a room without a roof

Engineering happiness is a room without a roof according to the Institution of Civil Engineers. Not much more to say.

And the Guardian thinks Sir John Armitt (seen here in Institution's library at George St) could compete in Strictly Come Dancing.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Echoes of the past

Will post up what this is in a couple of weeks. Much more to come.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

A Challenge

On various forums, for the past year or so, I have been asking what the point of knowing what happened in the past was. Until recently, it seemed that nobody had an answer. This played no small part in the reasoning for re-organising this blog last month.

However, Chris Johnson came up with something that challenged my point of view:

Jon, you asked this challenging question about what is the point of researching Stonehenge a few weeks ago and it got me thinking.

I do believe that this type of research is very important these days when our society is asked to make huge decisions on the basis of insufficient factual information and with limited resources. It is important because of what we can discover about process and methods and motives, the weighing of evidence and the construction of a plausible narrative that can be acted upon.

To give some examples, think of global warming, genetic modification of crops, the situation in Ukraine, the rise of IS, etc. On a lower level, In my professional life the question of making substantial investments without the luxury of "objective truth" is a regular necessity. The archaeologists should have much of importance to teach us all.

This seems an especially good argument. Although there may be a limited benefit in keeping the structures, there is perhaps a greater benefit in knowing why certain types of structure were built: In particular if the narrative of the past does help our understanding of how our societies react to threats and opportunities.

But whilst this seems a very good argument for the social benefit of knowing what monuments were for, it doesn't make a case for keeping monuments in a pristine condition.

Normally if something special is found it is almost always preserved; so the risk of it being lost decreases. But sometimes special things get broken up just because they are thought to be worth more that way. This often happens when the 'establishment' is not capable of reacting quickly enough to threats.

So an open question: If the choice presented itself, which of the following choices has more benefit?
  1. Being certain you know what a structure was for, but significantly increase the risk of losing it and/or its archaeological trace as a result.
  2. Being certain that a structure will be preserved but significantly increasing the risk that people will never know what made it special to the people of the past.

If anyone thinks that the risk of losing what exists (to future archaeological investigation) outweighs the potential benefit of knowing what happened at that place, I would be really interested to know why. If there are any contributors who have read the book, this really is quite an important question.


Saturday, 2 August 2014

Stonehenge: An introduction to Geocentrism

This blog covers some of the thinking behind the methods used to develop the geocentric theory of Stonehenge. To make it a bit more readable, I have removed many of the posts that I felt didn't add anything. This blog is now closed to new comment.