A key element in Chapter One, “Oblivion”, of my first ‘Planetoid Trilogy‘ book, ‘Star Island‘, is the ‘calibration test of the MiniAXE apparatus’. Effectively it is a science experiment. Today we take for granted that scientists and engineers use experiments to rigorously test their scientific theories and technical designs.
Are Science Experiments a Modern Phenomena?
We believe today that science experiments are a fairly recent phenomena within the scope of human recorded history. (History that began at least as far back as ancient Egypt and Sumer). More recently in medieval Europe, between 500 to 1000 years ago, the designers of cathedrals built literally upon their earlier mistakes. They would alter their design and rebuild until their edifice stopped falling down. The cathedral builders did not benefit from a knowledge of Newtonian physics and the modern technology of ‘strength of materials’. They were more artisans than engineers, in the modern sense. Whether the educated classes of ancient civilizations, several thousand years ago, used experiments as we do today is an interesting question. If you are aware of evidence that they did, please let me know in the comments, below.
Ancient Sumerian and Egyptian Knowledge
What, you may well ask, has any of the above talk of experiments have to do with my science fiction novel? Well, we tend to assume that our ancient ancestors were rather naive, illiterate, technically unschooled, and dominated by religious superstition and beliefs in magic. The general population may have suffered from these limitations. However, there is good scientific evidence to suggest that our ancient ancestors several thousand or more years ago were no less intelligent than we are today in 2022. However the ancients didn’t have our advantages of universal education, a documented history and culture of technical knowledge, and scientific advances. But these civilizations did have literate educated classes with skills in business, administration, and mathematics.
Rate of Advancement in Knowledge
In 2022, we see daily incremental increases in human knowledge. We exist during the very steep part of the exponential curve. The ancients, on the other hand, saw the curve as a virtually flat line. 5,000 years ago. They would have witnessed technological change at a relative snail’s pace, if they noticed it at all. An ancient Sumerian or Egyptian would have been lucky to see a significant technical advance within his or her lifetime.
(The Wikipedia entry on Cuneiform witnesses the presence in ancient Sumer of a literate class with a sophisticated written language. Other references indicate that the Sumerians had abilities in administration, astronomy, and mathematics.)
But what, I hear you say, does this have to do with Chapter One of my book, ‘Star Island’ ?
Good question, and I am glad you asked.
Well, in order to avoid spoilers, I can only ask you to consider how our present science might appear to a space-faring alien whose science and technology is several hundred thousand years in advance of our own. Also, when researchers are at the cutting edge of technology, carefully planned experiments do not always go as expected. Sometimes there are nasty surprises.
To learn more, you will need to read my book, starting with the recently published ‘Star Island’, Book One of ‘Planetoid Trilogy’. The other two books in the ‘Planetoid Trilogy’ are expected to be published in July 2022 and October 2022, respectively, following final editing.