Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sections 4 and 5

Is there any evidence that the Dogon knowledge came from the West?
Probably the most compelling evidence that the Dogon knowledge originated in the West is that the information they reportedly gave Griaule represented the state of knowledge in the West at that time.The Dogon did not anticipate any subsequent discoveries.
Indeed, subsequent discoveries have falsified some of the views held in the WestThree examples have been highlighted by sceptics, relatingto statements reportedly by the Dogon in relation to:(a) the density of Sirius B;(b) Rings around other planets;(c) Jupiter's moons;(d) Our solar system's outermost planets.
Out-dated knowledge: (a) the density of Sirius BOk, let's ignore the fact that the Dogon rather under-estimated the mass of Sirius B if they stated (as reported by Griaule and Dieterlen) that the star weighs the equivalent of 480 donkey-loads (about 38,000 kg. = 85,000 lb.) (Griaule and Dieterlen, 1950, at Temple, 1976, page 42-44; Temple, 1998, page 492).
Such remarks can (if we are fairly generous) be written off on the basis of some cultural idiosyncrasy. Perhaps 480 donkey-loads is the greatest weight the culture of the Dogon has.
On the same basis, let's be generous and also ignore the reported comment that Sirius B is the size of a stretched ox-skin or a mortar (Griaule and Dieterlen, 1950, at Temple, 1976, page 42-44; Temple, 1998, page 492).
A rather more substantive difficulty arises in relation to the lack of mention by the Dogon of any heavenly objects smaller and heavier than Sirius B.
Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen state that the Dogon consider Sirius B to be the smallest thing there is. It is the heaviest star Temple, 1976, page 42-44; Temple, 1998, page 492).
Several researchers have pointed out that, in fact, since the 1930s it has been discovered that there are in fact smaller and heavier objects in the universe.
James Oberg has commented that, while in the late 1920s, Europeans too believed that the 'white dwarf' Sirius-B star was the heaviest thing in the universe, in later years astronomers were to find thousands of similar objects along with even heavier and denser objects such as neutron stars and black holes (Oberg, 1982, page 123).
Similarly, Ronald Story has commented that white dwarf stars are no longer believed to be the smallest and heaviest bodies in the universe. Rapidly rotating neutron stars called pulsars (about 100 million times as dense) and the incredible 'black holes' are the new candidates for such honours (Story, 1980, page 119). The same point has been made by Ian Ridpath (Ridpath, 1978a, page 196).
Out-dated knowledge: (b) Rings around other planets.
Robert Temple, and several of his researchers, have trumpeted alleged Dogon knowledge of Saturn's rings. For example, Robert Temple has stated Their drawing of the planet Saturn has a ring around it (Temple, 1976, pages 27 and 29; Temple, 1998, pages 104 and 106-107).
However, the Dogon did not talk about any planet beyond Saturn with rings.This reflected European knowledge of the 1920s-1930s.Since the 1930s:- A Cornell University research team led by James Elliot discovered in 1977 that the planet Uranus is surrounded by rings (Sagan, 1979, page 90).- Jupiter was subsequently discovered to have rings as well (Oberg, 1982, page 130).
Out-dated knowledge: (c) Jupiter's moons.
Robert Temple refers to Dogon knowledge of 4 moons of Jupiter. The other moons of Jupiter are small and insignificant, having formerly been asteroids which were captured by Jupiter's gravitation at some unknown time in the past (Temple, 1976, pages 27-28; Temple, 1998, pages 105-106):
Four moons of Jupiter were first observed by Galileo in 1610.
However, those are merely the largest (by far) of Jupiter's moons.
Writing in 1982, James Oberg wrote that Jupiter has at least twelve moons (Oberg, 1982, page 124). In November 2007, Wikipedia states Sixty-three moons orbiting Jupiter have been discovered:
Thus, James Oberg and other skeptics have suggested that any visiting spaceman would have known that Jupiter has more than four moons (e.g. Ridpath, 1978a, page 196).
Temple, and one or two other researchers, have responded that the smaller moons of Jupiter are relativelyinsignificant and/or are not really moons at all (e.g.Spencer, 1997, page 59). However, this really does smack of seeking to explain away a fairly damning point (particularly when taken in conjunction with similar points made in relation to the Dogon's outdated knowledge of rings aroundother planets, no to mention their knowledge of Saturn and Sirius B).
Out-dated knowledge:
(d) Our solar system's outermost planets
Robert Temple's book states that Saturn is the outermost planet which the Dogon mention (Temple, 1976, page 29; Temple, 1998, page 107).
However, we now know that Saturn is not the outermost planet
in our solar system:
If the Dogon had access to information provided by alien visitors to Earth, why didn't they appear to know this?To be fair to Robert Temple and his supporters I must say that some sceptics have somewhat overstated this point. For example, James Oberg has stated that the Dogon insist that Saturn is the outermost planet (Oberg, 1982, page 124). This isn't strictly accurate. The relevant records of alleged statements by the Dogon do not record them as insisting that Saturn is the outermost planet.
However, Temple does state that the Dogon as referring to Saturn as the star of limiting the place in association somehow with the Milky Way (Temple, 1976, page 29; Temple, 1998, page 107). In my view, this (rather ambiguous) statement does imply that Saturn was regarded as the outermost planet in our solar system, particularly given the lack of any reference to any planet beyond Saturn.

But Digitaria is not Sirius's only companion: the star emme ya, Sorghum-Female, is larger than it, four times as light (in weight), and travels along a greater trajectory in the same direction and in the same time as it (fifty years). Their respective positions are such that the angle of the radii is at right angles. (Griaule and Dieterlen, 1950, at Temple, 1976, page 42-44; Temple, 1998, page 492).
Back in 1978, Ian Ridpath suggested that the true test of a good extraterrestrial story is that it should tell us something we don't already know (Ridpath, 1978a, page 199).
A similar comment was made by Edward Ashpole in 1989. He said Like all such stories we need information unknown to us, predictions that we can check. The Dogons provided just one piece of information that we did not already know: that in the Sirius system, there is a third star, four times the size of Sirius B, but this astronomers have not found (Ashpole, 1989, page 152).
Robert Temple has claimed that a third star, Sirius C, has been discovered relying upon an article by Daniel Benest and J L Duvent published in 1995.
Robert Temple has made some fairly grand claims about this purported discovery. The revised and expanded version of his book (published in 1998) only refers in passing to his various critics, on the basis of a contention that the discovery of Sirius C has rendered most criticism obsolete (Temple, 1998, page 23).
Robert Temple has said that the hypothesis of 'The Sirius Mystery' has now been verified in a dramatic fashion. This verification is a highly specific astrophysical prediction which has now been confirmed (Temple, 1998, pages 3-4).
The claims about the significance of the purported discovery of Sirius C have been echoed by others in various articles and on various webpages.
For example, in a discussion on the AboveTopSecret forums, NGC2736 wrote that: Even if the Dogon were 'contaminated' by the original contact, we're still left with the third star idea to ponder. How could even Temple himself have such information so long before this new research and the publication of it in the journal 'Astronomy and Astrophysics' in 1995?
(1) The article by Daniel Benest and J L Duvent published in 1995 does not, in fact, claim that Sirius C has been discovered. The relevant article discusses a 6 year perturbation in the motion of Sirius A-B, which may indicate the existence of Sirius C. The article concludes that stable orbits with 6-year periods exist around Sirius A, but does not claim that there is definitely a star (i.e. Sirius C) within any of those orbits. The article provides information which may assist in the search for Sirius C, if it exists (Benest and Duvent, 1995, page 627).
(2) Far more importantly, the discovery of Sirius C would not be very significant to any proper assessment of the Sirius Mystery. Given the crucial significance of this point, I consider it in some detail below.There is a simple reason for the latter point - there were reports of sightings of Sirius C in the 1920s.
In fact, Sirius C was observed about twenty times between 1920 and 1930 (Benest and Duvent, 1995, page 621).American astronomer Philip Fox believed he had seen a close companion of Sirius B in 1921 (Ridpath, 1978a, page 194). Various other authors also refer to reported sightings of, or speculation about, Sirius C in the 1920s (e.g. Oberg, 1982, page 123; Spencer, 1997, page 59)
While the new introduction to Robert Temple's revised book trumpets the importance of the purported discovery of Sirius C, much later in the same book is buried the following information in relation to Sirius C: Fox claimed to see it in 1920, and in 1926, 1928, and 1929 it was supposedly seen by van den Bos, Finsen, and others at the Union Observatory (Temple, 1976, page 12 - citing Aitken, R. G., The Binary Stars, Dover Publications, New York, 1964, pp. 240-1;Temple, 1998, page 81).
Indeed, Sirius C was suspected to exist prior to the various reported observations during the 1920s. From 1894, there have been suggestions of irregularities in the motion of Sirius B which have resulted in suggestions that Sirius C may exist (Benest and Duvent, 1995, page 621).
The views held by astronomers regarding the existence of Sirius C have changed like fashions during the last century. After the 1920s and 1930s, Sirius C went out of fashion. It was rarely observed by astronomers and considerable doubt existed by the 1970s regarding its existence. Those doubts increased considerably in 1973, when Irving W Lindenblad reported that a series of photographic observations showed no evidence of a close companion to either Sirius A or Sirius B. In 2000, scientists suggested that the sightings in the 1920s were probably due to an unrelated background star but the existence of a long-period companion cannot definitely be ruled out (Bonnet-Bidaud, Colas and Lecacheux, 2000).
Thus, the earlier reported observations of Sirius C were widely regarded as observational errors. Irving W Lindenblad informed Ian Ridpath during the 1970s that the possibility of a very distant third body cannot be ruled out theoretically (Ridpath, 1978a, page 194). Thus, at the time Robert Temple's book was published in 1976 few astronomers considered it probable that Sirius C existed.
So, the possible existence of Sirius C currently remains in doubt.
However, even if the claims attributed to the Dogon people regarding the existence of Sirius C turn out to have been correct, this would NOT demonstrate that the Dogon had any knowledge beyond that of the rest of the human race.
Such views are perfectly consistent with the theory that the views attributed to the Dogon people was, in fact, the result of cultural contamination in, or prior to, the 1930s.The existence of Sirius C had been made in the West (based on reported observations) prior to the Dogon's claims.
Sirius C's orbital periodWhile the mere suggestion that Sirius C exists does not provide tells us anything that was not known (or at least believed) prior to the 1930s, what about other details supposedly provided by the Dogon to Griaule about Sirius C?Robert Temple indicates that the Dogon supposedly stated that Sirius C travels along a greater trajectory in the same direction and in the same time as [Sirius B] (fifty years). (Temple, 1976, 26; Temple, 1998, page 102).
Is that statement about Sirius C's orbit correct?
According to the known laws of physics, no. As Ian Ridpath has stated: This is a physical impossibility. According to Kepler's laws, the larger an orbit, the longer an object takes to go around it (Ridpath, 1978a, page 195). Similarly, Krupp has commented that the information which the Dogon supposedly provide on the orbit of Sirius C is inconsistent with itself as well as with Kepler's laws (Krupp, 1981, page 292).
Le Renard Pale states that the orbital period of Sirius C is 32 years (i.e. not the same as Sirius B), which would make its orbit smaller than that of Sirius B (Ridpath, 1978a, page 195). It is notable that this is considerably different to the orbit suggested in the article by Daniel Benest and J L Duvent published in 1995 heavily relied upon by Robert Temple in the revised edition of his book. As noted above, that article indicates the possible existence of a third star in the Sirius system which orbits Sirius A with an orbital period of about six years.
It is interesting to note that Robert Temple's discussion of the article published in 1995 by Benest and Duvent fails to discuss the fact that the orbital period for Sirius C is different from the various figures which had been supposedly been put forward by the Dogon.

No comments: