You know what drives me nuts? Of course you don’t…but sit tight and I’ll tell you.
What drives me nuts is the History channel show called ‘Ancient Aliens’. If you haven’t seen it, it is basically a bunch of historian-esque type characters bloviating about how ancient man couldn’t have been so sophisticated on their own and/or how ancient drawings depict all sorts of alien encounters. Could it be true? I suppose, anything is possible, but this show hilariously omits all the more reasonable explanations and often takes itty-bitty tiny bits of information completely out of context in an effort to make their sensationalist point (Aliens!). Ancient painting of the stars in the sky; must have been inspired by that alien visitors. It couldn’t possibly be that they found the stars interesting in and of themselves. Holy crap! Did you see that chariot looking thing shooting lazers next to the stars in that cave-sky painting? That’s indisputable evidence of ancient aliens playing galactic polo just beyond the stratosphere – or the painter was bored and thought it would look neat.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am among those who believe that aliens exist somewhere in this universe. Given the number of galaxies, stars within them and planets around those it seems absurd to believe otherwise. That said, I don’t think any alien with the ability to hop between galaxies would be hanging around our wet rock full of primitives let alone teaching us astronomy. There are plenty of perfectly reasonable explanations that don’t base themselves on the premise that humans only recently became smart enough to tie our own shoes.
Humans have always been smart, its our evolutionary advantage. We just have better tools today because over time we’ve gotten better at storing and sharing information. I read somewhere that, but for the destruction of the Ancient Library of Alexandria, there would have been nuclear weapons available during the civil war (one might argue that this war would’ve happened 100 years sooner if certain useful bits of geographical and mariner info hadn’t been lost at Alexandria…but I digress). A single lost library set our collective knowledge back an estimated 100 years. That’s pretty startling if you consider all the books, tablets, manuscripts and so on that have been lost to history either by neglect or wanton destruction.
Aside from an improved ability to keep and share information I doubt we are really any different than any other homosapien that has ever lived. You’re not really more evolved or ‘smarter’ than your ancient Mayan counterpart, you were just more likely to have access to food, clean water, lots of books and lots of people to share what they know.
So one theory is that there’s no real difference between ancients and moderns and as such it should be no surprise that they came up with clever ways to solve their problems, build their monuments and observe the universe around them.
Another theory, a personal favorite, is that these ‘advances’ of ancient times and the savants (DaVinci, Newton, Capernicus etc) weren’t simply the Einsteins of their time. They were time travelers or universe hoppers, stuck in their time or our universe, able to create solutions and have ideas that seemed well beyond their time because they had already seen it.
Humans figured out how to spawn new universes, we created this one and traveled here once this planet had time to cook and cool off a bit. We got stuck here after some damned saber tooth tiger ran off with the key to our trans-universe omnibus and after a few hundred generations forgot we ever knew what a universe was only to relearn and arrive at our present state of learnification.