Early Observations of Oscillations

Looking towards the horizon where the sun rises, the bright yellow ball appears a little more to the left each day, noticeable only when intently focusing on landmarks or the early morning rays on the ground in between stones. As it progresses on its journey morning after morning, it gets more and more strength to warm the body. Plants start to blossom, green leaves appear everywhere in the woods, animals become active that had been in hibernation. It gets warmer and warmer, while the sun continues to rise more and more to the left. In the middle of the comfortable warmth of summer, however, this progression stops, then reverses, and the early morning sunrise appears a little more to the right each day. Eventually, it will lose much of its warming strength along the way, just as the leaves turn orange and brown, soon falling to the ground, leaving the trees standing naked. Snow covers the ground and the landmarks by which we can make out the position of the rising sun every day. Soon, however, the sun reaches another turning point on our landmarks, appearing a little more to the left again, triggering the hope for a new spring, and a new summer. The observation of the different seasons may be one of the first oscillations known to our neolithic ancestors (Thom 1971; Kelley & Milone 2011: 175). Mapping it to the position of the sunrise or sunset with the help of specific landmarks, even building them especially for this purpose, is an early example of a measurement utilizing a technological apparatus. It is also already a manifestation of second-order science: Human-built landmarks transcended the individual observations, but had to reference them. Moving big stones into the right places did not necessarily co-occur with the sunrise at solstice, but to identify the right places for the stones, the observation of a solstice itself had to be observed. As in any second-order phenomenon, this raises a hen-and-egg problem: To develop a concept of a solstice, observations already had to utilize landmarks, but to get the idea to observe sunrises or sunsets with the help of landmarks, the notion of an oscillation in the sun’s path across the sky had to be in place somehow, even if only as a suspicion. The concept of a year as an oscillation between extremes in climatic conditions presumably preceded this mapping of the sun’s path. Combined with other observations in nature, our ancestors gained the ability to predict the change of seasons in different climates via second-order observation (Kelley & Milone 2011). This brought about huge benefits for their fitness to adapt to the conditions in different parts of the world, and to grow their population based on more and more advanced agriculture. If we generalize this concept, the observation of any oscillation can be described as a combination of first-order observations of some condition and continuous second-order observations that compare the first-order observations and check for patterns in the form of recurring maxima.

Hinterlasse eine Antwort

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht. Erforderliche Felder sind markiert *

Du kannst folgende HTML-Tags benutzen: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>