Friday, December 01, 2006

Plato's Spindle: I Told You So

"Mistaking cultural history for a process of gradual evolution, we have deprived ourselves of every reasonable insight into the nature of culture. It goes without saying that the still more modern habit of replacing "culture" by "society" has blocked the last narrow path to understanding history. Our ignorance not only remained vast, but became pretentious as well."
From Hamlet's Mill. Some people have the Bible, the Koran, Rig Veda. My sacred text is Hamlet's Mill which discusses the astronomical concordance between world stories.

... Not only for plants that grow in the earth, but for animals that live on it, there are seasons when mind and body are productive, seasons which come when a certain period is completed, of longer duration for the long-lived, shorter for the short-lived. And though the rulers of your city are wise, reason and perception will not always enable them to hit on the right and wrong times for breeding, some time they will miss them and then children will be begotten amiss. For the divine creature, there is a period defined by a perfect number; for the human creature the number is the first in which root and square multiplications (comprising three dimensions and four limits) of basic numbers, which make like and unlike, and which increase and decrease, produce a final result in complete commensurate terms; of these basic numbers four and three coupled with five, yield two harmonies when raised to the power of four, of which one is a square with a multiple of one hundred, the other a rectangle of which one side is one hundred squares of diameters of a square of side five each diminished by one if the diameters are irrational, or by two if the diameters are rational, the other side of one hundred cubes of three.Plato

A device discovered over a hundred years ago has been reproduced and the science community is going mad. As usual, science is always light years behind the poets and artists, but that's okay. This discovery and new findings through super cool x-rays has revealed to scientists that we have known about navigation, celestial tracking and orbits for longer than the mainstream scientific community had acknowledged.

To those of us who have been studying mythology and the stories of preliterate communities and cultures, this is old hat. The good news is...maybe props will be given to these ancient cultures who followed and predicted precession through intricate stories representing celestial events. Maybe new generations will grow up understanding the incredible relationship between myth and science. Now the general scientific community may begin to accept that Greeks understood the universe very similarly to how we understand the universe. The fetishization of Renaissance science and contemporary science I hope will be lessened and respect for ancient astronomers will recive more understanding.

Science, mythology and religion are not at odds. They are the same story. This mechanism is a link between the preliterate study of astronomy, astrology, Beowulf, Plato, Rig Vedas, Jesus and contemporary research of the universe.

I am excited about the work being done on this mechanism because there are all kinds of words on the original piece. One confirmed phrase is "golden sphere". (Plato said the golden sphere rotates around spindle) There are constellations represented in zodiacal formation, perhaps validating the original purpose of astrology to record celestial events rather than only human personalities. Plato being born around 400 B.C. and this mechanism tagged around 2000 years old is just plain fun exciting.

Reproduction of navigation and astronomical inscriptions?This site is about a conference this weekend in Greece regarding this reproduction and the device. I got through to it, but traffic was so thick it took awhile. It's better today.

Now when the spirits which were in the meadow had tarried seven days, on the eighth they were obliged to proceed on their journey, and, on the fourth day after, he said that they came to a place where they could see from above a line of light, straight as a column, extending right through the whole heaven and through the earth, in colour resembling the rainbow, only brighter and purer; another day's journey brought them to the place, and there, in the midst of the light, they saw the ends of the chains of heaven let down from above: for this light is the belt of heaven, and holds together the circle of the universe, like the under-girders of a trireme. From these ends is extended the spindle of Necessity, on which all the revolutions turn. The shaft and hook of this spindle are made of steel, and the whorl is made partly of steel and also partly of other materials. Now the whorl is in form like the whorl used on earth; and the description of it implied that there is one large hollow whorl which is quite scooped out, and into this is fitted another lesser one, and another, and another, and four others, making eight in all, like vessels which fit into one another; the whorls show their edges on the upper side, and on their lower side all together form one continuous whorl. This is pierced by the spindle, which is driven home through the centre of the eighth. The first and outermost whorl has the rim broadest, and the seven inner whorls are narrower, in the following proportions --the sixth is next to the first in size, the fourth next to the sixth; then comes the eighth; the seventh is fifth, the fifth is sixth, the third is seventh, last and eighth comes the second. The largest (of fixed stars) is spangled, and the seventh (or sun) is brightest; the eighth (or moon) coloured by the reflected light of the seventh; the second and fifth (Saturn and Mercury) are in colour like one another, and yellower than the preceding; the third (Venus) has the whitest light; the fourth (Mars) is reddish; the sixth (Jupiter) is in whiteness second. Now the whole spindle has the same motion; but, as the whole revolves in one direction, the seven inner circles move slowly in the other, and of these the swiftest is the eighth; next in swiftness are the seventh, sixth, and fifth, which move together; third in swiftness appeared to move according to the law of this reversed motion the fourth; the third appeared fourth and the second fifth. The spindle turns on the knees of Necessity; and on the upper surface of each circle is a siren, who goes round with them, hymning a single tone or note. The eight together form one harmony; and round about, at equal intervals, there is another band, three in number, each sitting upon her throne: these are the Fates, daughters of Necessity, who are clothed in white robes and have chaplets upon their heads, Lachesis and Clotho and Atropos, who accompany with their voices the harmony of the sirens --Lachesis singing of the past, Clotho of the present, Atropos of the future; Clotho from time to time assisting with a touch of her right hand the revolution of the outer circle of the whorl or spindle, and Atropos with her left hand touching and guiding the inner ones, and Lachesis laying hold of either in turn, first with one hand and then with the other.

Great online articles:
Nature Magazine
Alun has posted about this a few time He's got lots of wonderful links.
Random Thoughts more great info and links.
History of the Sextant
Animation of the device How it works.
1959 article from Scientific American


Karen said...

Great article Candy. Martin over at Salto Sobrius ( also has an interesting post up about this.

Candy Minx said...

Thanks Karen. I am really into this shit. I love all the press this device has gotten the last few days.

I love gloating about how scientists have nothing on the poetsand artists too. I just went over and teased Martin.

I'd like to see the floors of some of the ancinet Roman buildings laid out with this device and story too...but I wasn't able to find some good diagrams online this morning...maybe later. Know of any? Some had the solar system knocked into the floors...

Underground Baker said...

Hi Candy,
Great post, (although I get a bit glassy eyed when it comes to the "squares of diameters of a square of side five each dimimished by one if the diameters are irrational..."
I'm off to dig out Hamlet's Mill again.

Dollface said...

This is fascinating. It is fascinating that the ancient minds so to speak were so reminds me of certain sects of the Kabala who believe mathematics hold the key to everything...and I think they do...I wonder where we will be in another 600 years?

Anyway, I bet the act of creating art is as mathematical, some compositions are certainly mathematical, is the very process of thinking, and the electronic synapses of our brains mathematical?

Will the theory crop up somewhere that this is from an alien solar system to explain the advanced concept of this discovery?

Nancy Drew said...

This is a marvellous post, CM!! Only wish I wasn't such a math dunce. Am definitely going to follow up on these links.

Am more metaphysical than mathematical, that's for sure. Need to know the 'whys' and 'what does this do's tho....

Candy Minx said...

UB, yes sometimes Plato sounds like he's talking in "circles" and he is, but I've seen some incredible reasoning and ideas come out of discussing with groups his work. He was really something, and always gives more and more the more you read him.

Dollface, I think everything does come down to patterns and repeating nature. I don't think there is any place else for things to come from or go. A painting and a poem are "small sets". Constructing an image is a series of proposing ideas, theories and arguments. A poem sets up a pattern, a premise and each word plays against and riffs all in one reading and in re-reading. Same as colours or choices we make in art.

We don't talk about it in the same tone or language...but even langauge is a set of patterns and concepts.

I studied the Kabalah as a young woman in school. It was one of my first times I went "aha" about mythology. I was writing a paper (teribly I might ad, I was a useless student) about the kabalh and Giordano Bruno...and all of a sudden I went, shit, these people in the past here have a mathematical knowledgeand system for recording the universe. I thought Giordano Bruno had realized this and how he got all his ideas for parallel universes and memory. It changed my whole life and way of thinking almost overnight. I've been pretty much obsessed with these ideas ever since.

I almost lost some good friends arguing back years ago about mythology and science as the same goals different attitude.

Nancy Drew, so glad to hear you enjoyed this post. I take my chances here ha ha, and I think your feeling of math as different or opposed to metaphysics is incredibly important. Mathematics is a differnt WAY of talking about metaphysics and metaphysics is a preliterate and pre-numerical way of talking about the universe. So you are actually mathematical...just speaking a different language.

Science is too obsessed with math being the validator of reason and experience and observation. Thats why the scientific community is always slow when it comes to medical innovation or "discovery"...they are taking the slow train.

Ancient cultures already had navigation, astronomy and a fascinating method for talking about the nature of reality and the universe...poor old (empirical) science is always playing catch up.

You want to learn math and astronomy? Most of us are better served looking at Mayan temples, old Irish observation mounds, Stonehenge, Egypt and Native American myths, or reading the Rig Veda or studying the Kabalah, it's all there baby.

Carmen said...

oh dear. I'm afraid you're looking at my head and something just sailed way over it. :) Mostly because I'm getting ready to leave work and I just don't feel like thinking just now. :)

Rauf said...

People seeing rocks rolloing down the hill would have invented the wheel. Fantasy is a good beginning. In ancient scriptures of Ramayan and Mahabharatha there were flying chariots. Evey body thinks of flying like birds. Davinci tried too.
Nature always inspires people to think.

Candy Minx said...

Carmen, hi sorry this was too boring, I'll post something more interesting soon! Wow, thanks for stopping by and it's not even Thursday Thirteen yet!

Rauf, you're absolutely correct. Not only does nature make one is the grid and matrix and math we think inside of.

And we forgot to say the other is the most obviously mathematical practice!

Lynn said...

Oh I like this Candy.
I don't know anything about this.
I have bookmarked the link for the book.
You have really peaked my interest.
I know my hubby will be interested too.
He is retiring tomorrow and I will recommend he read your post and the book.
Hopefully I will be able to read it all soon.
I don't have to purchase a Holiday read now!

Candy Minx said...

Lynn, you inspired me so I posted some more stuff for you and your hubby.