More Mathematical/Neolithic Musings

By Bernie Bell

I was thinking about the ‘Voyager’ space mission.  More specifically, I was thinking about the music on the gold disc which was sent off on a journey through the planets, on board the Voyager craft. I was wondering what the music was, and if it’s available to listen to.  I googled it, and sure enough, in November 2017, it was released on vinyl and as a C.D.  The trouble is, the C.D. costs $50 , plus postage etc.   I reckon that the cost will come down, in time, and so decided to bide my time, and wait. I am an old person, who prefers to listen to music on C.D.’s!

I was also thinking of how difficult it must have been to choose which music and images were to go on the gold disc.  People from different cultures on earth, often find it hard enough to ‘see through other eyes’.  It’s not just ‘alien’ ways of being, from other planets or different times, that we don’t consider or cope well with, we have a big problem, as humans, when it comes to seeing through other eyes, or even trying to see through other eyes, of our own species.

Some of it, seems so obvious, but….hard to know, unless you know.

So , what do you choose to present to potential Beings on other planets?  Then I thought – MATHS.  Mathematics is universal, and at the root of….most things.  Whoever, ultimately,  receives the Voyager disc will need to have maths ( or whatever they might call it) to have the technology to ‘work’ the disc, anyway.  Maybe very different technology, but they would need to have ‘maths’ to be able to even begin to explore what’s on board Voyager. Or am I making too many assumptions? They’re whole way of being and seeing, could be so utterly different from ours.

carved stone balls  Kirkwall Museum

 Music From Earth: Voyager Golden Record

NASA on Soundcloud

That was the Maths bit, and now on to the Neolithic bit.

The Extra-Ordinary-A-Symmetrical-Six-Knobber carved stone ball, which was found at the Ness of Brodgar in 2013 neolithic-kind,hadn’t been discovered when Voyager was sent out, but, wouldn’t that have been a perfect object to send? Or, a copy of it, anyway!  From Brodgar to the Stars – maybe not such a new idea, after all?

The E.O.A.S.S.K. provides a very good example of how the Neolithic carved objects can express the physical world, by use of mathematics, in the form of carved objects which embody the mathematics, and also, possibly, concepts which we are yet to ‘see’ and fully explore.  Some of the other carved stone objects have complex maths wrapped around them, too, but, maybe they could be a bit obscure – a bit hard to  even notice what’s there, for a Being who first encounters them? They might just be seen as being decorative – particularly if that culture, uses similar forms in their art-work and decoration! It’s taken us long enough to start to see what may be there, and our ancestors carved them!

But, in the case of the EOASSK,  as soon as you turn it, you see the balance of threes and fours, as displayed beautifully in this short video by Hugo Anderson-Whymark.

 Firstly, they couldn’t miss seeing the maths – the question “What’s going on here?” would surely follow?  Again, we don’t even know the answers, ourselves, but this could maybe give an alien race a clue that there was something there, and they might be astute enough to work it out – and maybe more quickly than we are doing!

The point of all this is – it occurred to me, that a copy of the EOASSK would have been a good thing to have been able to include on the Voyager craft, and could have given a direct clue to the fact that we humans have a grasp of Maths, and therefore…………………..

This also got me thinking about the episode of Star Trek in which Kirk & Co encountered a very destructive ‘entity’. Not wanting to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it –  if you haven’t  – skip the next bit!

spaceV’Ger turned out to be a Voyager space craft, interpreted in a very un-expected way!  Maybe I have been making too many assumptions about what ‘advanced’ and ‘technology’ might  mean in relation to such very different situations.

By the by, Carl Sagan is one of my heroes.   He had all that science in this head, and also the vision to see the beauty and significance of a small blue dot in a beam of light.

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