No. 139: Jan-Feb 2002
James asserts that records of ancient total solar eclipses imply large departures from stability. He mentions five such maverick eclipses.
The dates of these five eclipses are not at issue; back-calculations confirm them. However, these eclipses should not have been observable where reported. For example, the path-of-totality for the 136-BC eclipse should have been 4000 kilometers west of Babylon!
Today's astronomers have no choice but to discard these data as erroneous. Yet, it is hard to be wrong about where one observes a total solar eclipse, and here we have five errors in location. Furthermore, mixed in with the old eclipse records are well-behaved ones in 763 BC, 240 BC, and 195 BC; all seen where our back-calculations say they were visible.
James wonders if the earth may have wobbled chaotically in the past. Such motion could account for the many flood myths and allusions to high sea levels. (James, Peter M. ; "Political Correctness in Science," New Concepts in Global Tectonics, no. 19, June 2001.)
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