Schlafly Bottleworks, Maplewood, MO
Cahokia's Woodhenge: an Ancient Calendar?
Professor Emeritus of Physics
Moderated by: Cynthia Wichelman, M.D.
A thousand years ago, Cahokia was larger than London, with a population in the tens of thousands. The Cahokians built many mounds, but most have been demolished as St. Louis and its suburbs expanded. Monks' Mound is the largest man-made earthen mound in North America. Circles marked by tall posts appear to have incorporated important astronomical alignments. In 1985, a woodhenge was reconstructed around the largest of these circles, and today Monks' Mound and this Woodhenge are the most impressive remaining components of the Cahokia complex. Cahokia has been designated as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). See http://cahokiamounds.org/
Prof. Michael Friedlander's research has been in cosmic rays and related areas. His early experimental work related to the properties of the ‘strange’ particles produced in collisions of high energy cosmic ray particles. Later research involved identification of heavy nuclei that travel across interstellar space before arriving at the Earth. He has also investigated the effects of cosmic ray particles in dust and gas surrounding Eta Carinae, an extremely luminous object that may well also be a source of energetic particles. More recently he has published the results of his analysis of the Cahokia Woodhenge, which was probably used as a calendar a thousand years ago.Prof. Friedlander is also interested in the interface between science and society and in the structure of science. He has taught courses on the history of science and the contrast between science and pseudoscience, and authored two books in this area.
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