|By BabelStone, CC BY-SA 3.0
astronomers inscribed eclipse observations on animal bones. About 3200 years later, researchers used these records to estimate that the accumulated clock error was about 7 hours. From this they derived a value for the viscosity of the Earth's mantle as it rebounds from the weight of the glaciers.Last week we had another, if only one-fifth as old, example of the value of long-ago scientific observations. Korean astronomers' records of a nova in 1437 provide strong evidence that:
|1473 nova remains
"cataclysmic binaries"—novae, novae-like variables, and dwarf novae—are one and the same, not separate entities as has been previously suggested. After an eruption, a nova becomes "nova-like," then a dwarf nova, and then, after a possible hibernation, comes back to being nova-like, and then a nova, and does it over and over again, up to 100,000 times over billions of years.How were these 580-year-old records preserved? Follow me below the fold.
the Annals of Sejong (r. 1418–1450) onwards, were printed with movable metal and wooden type, which was unprecedented in the making of annals in Japan and China.And Lots Of Copies were made to Keep Stuff Safe using geographical diversity, regular audit, and replacement of lost copies:
Four separate repositories were established in Chunchugwan, Chungju County, Jeonju County, and Seongju County to store copies of the Annals. All but the repository in Jeonju were burned down during the Imjin wars. After the war, five more copies of the Annals were produced and stored in Chunchugwan and the mountain repositories of Myohyang-san, Taebaeksan, Odaesan, and Mani-san.A good way to preserve information, which the LOCKSS Program implemented! The story of their preservation is told in Shin Byung Ju's Dedicated Efforts to Preserve the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty:
Although the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty (Joseonwangjosillok) have been duly recognized as an incomparable documentary treasure, this would not have been possible without its elaborate and scientific system of maintenance and preservation. This included the building of archives in remote mountainous regions, where the Annals could be safely stored for future generations, along with the development of nearby guardian temples to protect the archives during times of crisis. The Annals would be stored in special boxes, together with medicinal herbs to ward off insects and absorb moisture. Also, the Annals were aired out once every two years as part of a continuous maintenance and preservation process. As such, it was the rigid adherence to these painstaking procedures that enabled the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty to be maintained in their original form after all these centuries.The details are fascinating, go read! Similar care was taken at Haeinsa:
most notable for being the home of the Tripitaka Koreana, the whole of the Buddhist Scriptures carved onto 81,350 wooden printing blocks, which it has housed since 1398.Winston Smith in "1984" was an editor for the Ministry of Truth; he "rewrites records and alters photographs to conform to the state's ever-changing version of history itself". George Orwell wasn't a prophet. Throughout history, governments of all stripes have found the need to employ Winston Smiths and the Joseon dynasty was no exception. But the Koreans of that era even defended against their Winston Smiths:
In the Later Joseon period when there was intense conflict between different political factions, revision or rewriting of sillok by rival factions took place, but they were identified as such, and the original version was preserved.Today's eclipse records would be on the Web, not paper or bone. Will astronomers 3200 or even only 580 years from now be able to use them?