Authors Father Christopher Corbally and Dr. Margaret Boone Rappaport Will Give a Presentation at The Eighth International Conference on “The Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena,” at the Hayden Planetarium, America Museum of Natural History, in July 2013.

Authors Father Christopher Corbally and Dr. Margaret Boone Rappaport Will Give a Presentation at The Eighth International Conference on “The Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena,” at the Hayden Planetarium, America Museum of Natural History, in July 2013.
Tucson authors Dr. Christopher Corbally and Dr. Margaret Boone Rappaport have been invited to give an address at the Eighth International Conference on “The Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena,” at the Hayden Planetarium, America Museum of Natural History in New York City, in July 2013.  (http://www.amnh.org/our-research/hayden-planetarium/insap-viii)  Their topic is: “Visible Supernovae in A.D. 1054, 2054, and 3054: Inspiration for the Religious and Artistic of the Past and Future.”
They describe their paper this way:  “Three models of cognitive evolution guide our cross-cultural investigation of the documentation of a very bright star that shone suddenly above in the year 1054.  The supernova creating the Crab Nebula was recorded by Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arab, and some Native American astronomers.  We will review the historical, archaeological, and artistic evidence of that stellar explosion and speculate as to how ancient scribes, scientists, and artists interpreted this unusual heavenly event and integrated it into their respective cultures.  The documentation of ‘Crab’ took more than symbolic thinking; it required a type of interpretation of natural events that characterizes hominid sentience and inspires all scientific, religious, and artistic thought.  We ask questions from C.S. Pierce’s (1931-1935) work on semiotics, and a derivative paradigm by Robinson and Southgate (2010) called ‘entering the semiotic matrix.’”
Dr. Corbally and Dr. Rappaport then apply a model of “Enhanced Working Memory” from psychologist and cognitive archaeologist Coolidge and Wynn (2011), to explore likely understandings of the Crab supernova.  With questions on the adaptive nature of art and religion from psychologists Fiddick and Barrett (2001;1999), they will speculate on how ancient cultures may have integrated observation of a strikingly bright new star into cultures already well endowed with symbols, myths, and ideologies.  They asked the obvious: What advantage did they gain from doing so?  They asked the not-so-obvious:  What was the “selective advantage,” in an evolutionary sense?
Finally, they will look to starry skies of the future and ask how city skies will appear.  How will religious and artistic practitioners interpret a supernova that suddenly appears and stays for two years, only to disappear?  “Futures research” suggests that society will be very different in the coming decades and centuries.  What will humans in the future see, how will they be inspired, and what documentation will they leave for archaeologists of the very distant future?
They will review color slides to visualize the different ways that the Crab supernova appeared to people living nearly a millennium ago.   They shall then project this understanding to the near and distant future, and imagine how city skies will appear to artists, writers, and scientists who might encounter their own bright supernova.
Bios of the Co-Authors:
Father Christopher J. Corbally is an astronomer with the Vatican Observatory Research Group, for which he has served as Vice Director, and liaison to its headquarters at Castel Gandolfo, Italy. He is an Adjunct Associate Astronomer at the Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona, and ministers to a wide variety of Catholics, including Native Americans, in Tucson, Arizona.  He earned his doctorate in Astronomy at the University of Toronto in 1983.  His dissertation was on, “Close Visual Binaries: MK Spectral Classification and Evolutionary Status.”
Dr. Margaret Boone Rappaport is a cultural anthropologist who works as a futurist and science fiction novelist in Tucson, Arizona.  As President, Policy Research Methods, Incorporated, Falls Church, Virginia, she was a contractor to federal and state agencies for over twenty years.  She lectured in Sociology and Anthropology at Georgetown and George Washington Universities.  She earned her doctorate at the Ohio State University in 1977.  Her dissertation was on the adjustment of Cuban refugee women and families.

 

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