Who tells you what is real?

Surely the reader knows about Mīrzā Muhammad Tāraghay bin Shāhrukh. Mariner must confess that he had not known about this Sultan of the Timurid Empire; so much for a college education. His short name is Ulugh Beg (oo’loo beg). Mariner discovered him serendipitously while searching for something – anything – to watch on his smart television.

Ulugh Beg singlehandedly brought modern science to a region (now in Uzbekistan) that otherwise was still a primitive culture. Not only did he bring science to his empire, he made astronomic discoveries and uses of mathematics 250 years before the West’s Scientific Revolution (1700s).

200 years before Hans Lippershey invented the first telescope in the early 1600s, Ulugh Beg constructed a large circular building in such a way that the stars and planets could be tracked with great precision. He documented the 26,000-year cycle of the Earth’s axial tilt while Galileo was being tried 200 years later by the Pope for claiming that the Sun was the center of the Solar System.

Ulugh Beg developed trigonometry and was the first to build trig tables showing relationships between sine, cosine, etc.[1]

– – – –

Mariner enjoyed his documentary respite from the present world. Too quickly afterward he became aware of the worldwide press toward totalitarianism. Remembering the Pope’s control over what is real and trashing Galileo’s knowledge is emerging as a dominant political behavior in today’s world.

The contemporary political surge to abandon or constrict empirical truth is alarming. Teachers are being fired for trying to teach authentic history; libraries are mandated to destroy commonplace literature; elections can be overturned by the government; the rights of women to manage their own bodies is subsumed under a nonchalant justice system that ignores sexual abuse and by the religious right squashing the right to abortion; Christian churches ignore doctrine to deny equality to nonwhites and homosexuals; denial of scientific fact in order to believe the falsehoods of powerful leaders – and, in its own version of totalitarianism, deliberately uncontrolled social media.

In some respects, Ulugh Beg was lucky.

Ancient Mariner

[1] A fascinating documentary! See ROKU, The Man Who Unlocked the Universe.

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