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Space Age Stone Age discovery

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Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 10.06.31DR FABIO SILVA, a lecturer in the Sophia Centre at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Lampeter campus, and Dr Daniel Brown, an astronomy lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, have caused a world-wide media sensation with their theory on the use of prehistoric tombs as ‘telescopes’. 

After examining 6,000 year old passage graves in Portugal, Silva concluded they functioned like telescopes without a lens.

Viewers within the tunnels would have had a chance to spot the first appearance of Aldebaran, the red star that is the brightest object in the constellation of Taurus before those outside. This was crucial for the rituals which timed seasonal migrations, such as taking sheep to higher pastures. The annual event, Silva argues, could have coincided with the star’s first appearance in the morning twilight each year. “This first rising of Aldebaran occurred at the end of April or beginning of May 6,000 years ago, so it would be a very good, very precise calendrical marker for the move to higher ground,” he said.

“The key thing is that a passage grave with its long corridor acts like a telescope that does not have a lens – it is similar to a long tube that restricts views to the sky close to the horizon.” Dr Daniel Brown added: “Seeing only a small portion of the sky while in a dark environment could help the eye fixate and prolong dark adaptation.”

These astronomical observations could have been linked to ancient rituals in which individuals were left on their own in the tomb with the remains of their ancestors. “There is a wealth of evidence now that these passage graves were not only used as tombs for burials, but they could also be used for rites of passage,” said Dr Silva. Such rituals, he adds, often involve the revelation of an astronomical secret to the initiate. “Could the secret be that the initiate could see the star rising days, if not a full week, before everybody else that was outside the passage grave could see it?” he said.

Dr Silva and the team are currently testing these ideas by simulating the conditions of celestial visibility from within the passage graves in the laboratory.

Dr Silva and the team‘s work was presented at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting 2016 at a dedicated cultural astronomy session coordinated by Dr Brown. It was reported in the UK in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, New Scientist and Astronomy Now, and around the world on the BBC World Service; Der Spiegel (Germany); Archaeology magazine, WIRED magazine, CBS News, FOX News and The Washington Post (USA); New Zealand Herald (NZ); The Hindu (India); Jibada (China); and Globo (Brazil).

Dr Silva teaches the course on Skyscapes, Cosmology and Archaeology in the University’s Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture.

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Health

Council makes available wellbeing and mental health support for social care providers

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The programme will run until March 2022

IN RECOGNITION of the important work of the social care sector and impact of the Covid pandemic on social care providers and their staff, Ceredigion County Council has made available a programme of wellbeing and mental health support sessions.

The programme consists of Wellbeing and Mental health Awareness, Mental Health First Aid (Adults and Youth) and also offers facilitated support sessions.

The programme of events will run from December through to March 2022.

Any social care provider, carer or personal assistant can request more information or book a place on these sessions by emailing Dysgu@ceredigion.gov.uk

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Farming

Avian Influenza identified in poultry on Anglesey

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THE CHIEF Veterinary Officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop has confirmed the presence of avian influenza H5N1 in a small backyard flock of chickens and ducks at a premises on the Isle of Anglesey.

A 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zone Area have been imposed around the small infected premises, to limit the risk of disease spread.

The risk to public health from the virus is considered to be very low and these cases do not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

A case of avian influenza was confirmed in poultry and wild birds in Wrexham County borough last month. There have been similar findings of avian influenza in the UK and Europe.

On Wednesday this week the Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland agreed to bring in new housing measures to protect poultry and captive birds from avian influenza. These measures come into force on Monday, 29 November.

All keepers are strongly advised to be vigilant for signs of the disease such as increased mortality or respiratory distress. If keepers have any concerns about the health of their birds, they are encouraged to seek prompt advice from their veterinary surgeon.

The Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop, said:

“This confirmation of a case of avian influenza in poultry on the Isle of Anglesey is further evidence of the need for all keepers of birds to ensure they have the very highest levels of biosecurity in place.

“We have announced new housing measures will come into force from next Monday to protect poultry and kept birds, but I must stress that this is at its most effective when combined with implementation of the most stringent biosecurity measures.

“Public Health Wales has said the risk to the health of the public from Avian Influenza is very low and the Food Standards Agency has made clear it does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

“Temporary control zones have been imposed to help prevent further spread of the disease.

“Suspicion of avian influenza or any other notifiable disease must be reported to the Animal and Plant Health Agency immediately.”

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Business

Commitment to collaborative approach for Celtic Sea floating wind project

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A SUCCESSFUL Celtic Sea APPG Reception, attended by over 100 key representatives of Industry and MPs, was hosted by Cherilyn Mackrory and the Celtic Sea Developers Alliance at the House of Commons on Monday.
The event, which included speakers from The Crown Estate, Ireland’s Ambassador to the UK and the Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart promoted floating wind (FLOW), which will become a key global technology in achieving a cost-effective Net Zero.
Cherilyn Mackrory MP for Truro and Falmouth and Celtic Sea APPG Member said:
“It was fantastic to be able to bring together developers, supply chain partners and Parliamentarians to hear more about the exciting opportunities for floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea and positive announcements have set the scene for our discussions.
Particularly, the Government’s commitment to floating offshore wind as part of the Net Zero Strategy, building on the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan to deliver 1GW of energy through floating offshore wind by 2030.”
Simon Hart MP, Secretary of State for Wales said: “The development of floating off shore wind projects in our waters could create thousands of sustainable jobs in Wales, boosting our economy and accelerating the UK’s shift to clean growth. I’m delighted to support projects in the Celtic Sea which will help the UK Government reach our aim of net-zero emissions by 2050 and to see Wales at the forefront of this exciting opportunity. “
In the UK, the Committee on Climate Change stated that offshore wind will become the backbone of the future energy system requiring 100GW of installed capacity by 2050, with floating wind set to deliver 50% of that target. Delivering 100GW of offshore wind will provide a huge economic opportunity across the UK.
The Celtic Sea will play a key role in delivering UK and Irish low carbon targets with an estimated 50GW of realisable wind resource, in turn, driving regional development, creating new supply chain opportunities, a just energy transition and a significant portion of the 29,000 jobs forecast by 2050.
The Celtic Sea Developers Alliance brings together FLOW developer interests from Cornwall and the Great South West, Ireland and Wales to strengthen collaboration between the three regions with the aim of realising the economic and low carbon energy opportunity presented by FLOW

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