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From my past – Chariots of the Gods!

I often think back to the days when as a teenager I discovered books, and knowledge. Not Novels but the reference section of the library.

And the book that I remember most is the Eric von Daniken book “Chariots of the  Gods“. And what an eye opener. Now you have to remember that this was 1975/1976 ish

“Was God an ancient astronaut? Do centuries-old legends of gods and heroes tell of space travelers who came to earth from distant parts of the Cosmos? Are some of the ruins of antiquity remnants of great airfields, the favored landing sites of extraterrestrial craft?”

I think the book opened up the possibility of ‘more’ and brought forward thinking of “what if”. Some of it seemed plausible of course, some of it seems very compelling. Writing this now it’s difficult to set aside that I know it’s rubbish and ill-founded and false. But at the time the idea of iron pillars that didn’t rust, and ancient depictions of astronauts was mind-blowing.

A roller coaster of a ride around such artifacts as the Egyptian pyramids, Stonehenge, and the Moai of Easter Island.And a medieval map known as the Piri Reis Map, allegedly showing the Earth as it is seen from space, and the Nazca lines in Peru, which he explains as landing strips for an airfield. Wonderful stuff to a questioning mind.

This was one gem that on re-reading rings bells; On the mysteries of the great Pyramid of Cheops:

“is it coincidence that the area of the base of the pyramid divided by twice its height gives the celebrated figure Pi = 3.14159?” (p. 77)

Here our slippery trickster has made a claim which is easy enough to understand, but its refutation requires a higher level of mathematical sophistication, which is all the better for letting the deception go unnoticed! Without going into too much detail, let us observe that the famous number Pi is what is called a “dimensionless constant”: it is a pure number, with which no units of measure are associated. However, the ratio of an area to height is not dimensionless, hence such a ratio cannot yield Pi. By choosing our units carefully, we can obtain the number 3.14159, but the ratio will not really be Pi, which is independent of any units of measure. If we measure the same pyramid, Von Daniken style, in inches, feet, and yards, we will obtain three different ratios. Choose your own units, and the ratio can be made to equal any number at all! Von Daniken writes that the pyramid of Cheops “has inspired hundreds of crazy and untenable theories”.

I remember reading my way though many books after that, although none have stuck with me as a catalyst or memory point, and they would have included books on the Bermuda Triangle, Bigfoot and Crop Circles. Tto be fair I’ve never re-read it. But is does remain a book that I have fond memories of as a start point to a journey. The one that leads to discovery of scepticism and to questioning everything. And whilst it’s easy with a lot of years under you belt to claim to question everything you know that’s not really the case. I question much of what I read and I doubt a lot of what I read, some of that it cynicism and some of that is benefit of wisdom. But I do think that the journey started here.

One comment on “From my past – Chariots of the Gods!

  1. Pingback: Interview With Erich von Däniken | David Reneke | Space and Astronomy News

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This entry was posted on April 13, 2012 by in All about me, Justsaying and tagged , , , .

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