Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Astronomy and Homer's Odyssey

A news release from Rockefeller University reports that a mathematical physicist and an astronomer have just published an article that uses the relative dates of certain astronomical events in Homer's The Odyssey to put a specific date on the return of Odysseus (aka Ulysses) to Ithaca.

The date is 16 April 1178 BCE.

A nice bit of applied physics and astronomy. And now folks who teach the classics have a day they can use like we use Pi Day (aka Talk Like a Physicist Day or Einstein's Birthday) and Mole Day in the sciences.

Hat tip to today's quick takes at IHE.

UPDATE (1 July 2008):
And, according to the BBC, astronomers have also proposed a different date for Julius Caesar's landing in Britain in 55 BCE. In this case it was based on actual observations of tidal currents in August 2007 under astronomical conditions that matched those more than 2000 years earlier. The full story is in Sky & Telescope.

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