Imagine if the transistor and the internet had been invented a thousand years ago. Imagine a millennium of genetic engineering. Imagine if quantum theory and relativity had been successfully replaced by string theory centuries ago, and today we were finishing up on whatever comes after superstrings. Imagine if the celebration for the year 2000 AD had been observed by citizens on the Moon, on Mars, and across the Solar System. Imagine if Henry Ford were known for the mass production of personal warp-drive spacecraft. Imagine if Neil Armstrong had gone not to the Moon, but to the first pi-ring transdimensional Shadow Earth. Imagine if Bill Gates hawked not Windows but instead…
If ever there were a story at SciScoop that’s worth a moment of silence to lament the loss of what could have been, this is it. A joint Egyptian-Polish archeological team has reportedly found the long-lost Library of Alexandria. This facility was effectively the first true University, with lecture rooms for thousands of students and nearly a million scrolls for them to read. This is the place where Archimedes invented the screw-shaped water pump that is still in use today, the place where Eratosthenes measured the diameter of the Earth, the place where Euclid wrote The Elements after discovering the rules of geometry, the place where Ptolemy wrote The Almagest, the most influential scientific book about the nature of the Universe for 1,500 years.
The Library of Alexandria was where the “modern” intellectual flame of knowledge first flickered to life in the ancient world, and indeed for a while it burned brightly. Had it not been extinguished, a thousand year Dark Age might have been avoided, and who knows on what lofty heights we might have stood this very day?
But the Library of Alexandria was destroyed, of course, and our own history is the result. The true chronology of the Library, and particularly its demise, is yet a mystery. My money is on it’s being sacked by Caesar when he waged war on his arch-rival Pompey for the hand of Cleopatra. That would indeed be a fitting cause for a thousand years of intellectual darkness afflicting all of human civilization: two men, one woman, trouble, the oldest story in the book.