The we-don’t-know facts of the universe part ii

by Asifur Rahman Khan

Continued from last issue

Sea people
009During the late Bronze Age, civilisation was progressing at an impressive rate in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean regions. Kingdoms rose, order was established, and technology advanced. The Mycenaean and Minoans had intricate palaces in Greece and Crete, the Hittites dominated what is now Turkey. And the Canaanites controlled what would become the holy land — Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan. But in the years surrounding 1200 B.C., all of that would change.
This event was part of what is known as the Bronze Age collapse, and it remains one of the largest dark spots in historians’ records. And one of the causes of this bizarre collapse was the mysterious ‘Sea Peoples’ — a technologically inferior, unaffiliated group of seafaring warriors who raided the lands and are often credited with the collapse of these once-great civilisations.
The problem is, historians still have little if any idea of where these warriors came from, or what became of them after their conquest finally ended in Egypt. Also unknown is how the Sea Peoples managed to conquer civilisations hundreds of years more advanced in weaponry.

The WOW Signal
On a summer night in 1977, Jerry Ehman, a volunteer for SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, recorded the strongest hard evidence of extraterrestrial life in human history. Ehman was scanning radio waves from deep space, and on that night, he saw his measurements spike, in a big way.
The signal lasted for 72 seconds, the longest period of time it could possibly be measured by the array that Ehman was using. It was unmistakable, and appeared to have originated from within the Sagittarius constellation near a star called Tau Sagittarii, 120 light years away.
Ehman wrote the words ‘Wow!’ on the original printout of the signal, thus its being known as the ‘Wow! Signal.’ If you’re wondering what the fuss is about the signal, think of it this way — if we were going to send a signal out into the universe to try to communicate with an alien race, that is exactly the frequency we would use! Despite the incredible occurrence however, all attempts to locate the signal again have failed, leading to much controversy and confusion about its origins and its meaning.

Antikythera Mechanism
010Like something from a fantastical treasure movie, the discovery of the Antikythera Mechanism remains a major archaeological head-scratcher. Found in the sunken wreckage of a Greek cargo ship that is at least 2,000 years old, the circular bronze artifact contains a maze of interlocking gears and mysterious characters etched all over its exposed faces.
Originally thought to be a kind of navigational astrolabe, archaeologists continue to uncover its uses and now know that it was, at the very least, a highly intricate astronomical calendar. It is still the most sophisticated device ever found from that period, preceding the next appearance of similar devices by 1,000 years.

The Gravity Issue
We all know that gravity from the moon causes tides, Earth’s gravity holds us to the surface, and the sun’s gravity keeps our planet in orbit, but how much do we really understand it? This powerful force is generated from matter, and more massive objects therefore have a greater ability to attract other objects.
While scientists do understand a great deal about how gravity acts, they are not really sure why it exists. Why are atoms mostly empty space? Why is the force that holds atoms together different from gravity? Is gravity actually a particle? These are answers that we really just can’t answer with our current understand of physics.
Where are the aliens
The observable Universe is 92 billion light-years in diameter, filled with billions of galaxies with stars and planets, yet the only evidence of any life anywhere is right here on Earth. Statistically, the odds of us actually being the only living beings in the Universe are impossibly low, so why on Earth have we not connected with anyone else yet?
This is known as the Fermi Paradox, and there have been dozens of suggestions to explain why we have not encountered extraterrestrial life; some more plausible than others. We could probably talk about all of the different possibilities for days about whether or not we are just missing signals, if they have actually been here and we didn’t know it, they can’t/don’t want to talk to us, or—the extremely unlikely scenario—if Earth is the only planet with life ever.

These are just some of the few things that have confounded me and the rest of the planet. If you have more questions, use something that our forefathers did not have at their disposal: Google. The world is far more mysterious than you could have ever imagined.
The writer is an advertiser who, between building brands and playing football, searches and travels the world to explore the unexplored. To close down more doors of ignorance, reach him at asif.r.khan@gmail.com.

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