Skip to comments.Groundbreaking Research Sheds Light On Ancient Mystery (Easter Island)
Posted on 09/19/2005 4:36:30 PM PDT by blam
Release Date: Aug. 31, 2005
Contact: Will Dube
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Groundbreaking Research Sheds Light on Ancient Mystery
RIT researcher creates new population model to help predict and prevent societal collapse
A researcher at Rochester Institute of Technology is unraveling a mystery surrounding Easter Island. William Basener, assistant professor of mathematics, has created the first mathematical formula to accurately model the islands monumental societal collapse.
Between 1200 and 1500 A.D., the small, remote island, 2,000 miles off the coast of Chile, was inhabited by over 10,000 people and had a relatively sophisticated and technologically advanced society. During this time, inhabitants used large boats for fishing and navigation, constructed numerous buildings and built many of the large statues, known as Tiki Gods, for which the island is now best known. However, by the late 18th century, when European explorers first discovered the island, the population had dropped to 2,000 and islanders were living in near primitive conditions, with almost all elements of the previous society completely wiped out.
The reasons behind the Easter Island population crash are complex but do stem from the fact that the inhabitants eventually ran out of finite resources, including food and building materials, causing a massive famine and the collapse of their society, Basener says. Unfortunately, none of the current mathematical models used to study population development predict this sort of growth and quick decay in human communities.
Population scientists use differential equation models to mimic the development of a society and predict how that population will change over time. Since incidents like Easter Island do not follow the normal progression of most societies, entirely new equations were needed to model the outcome. Computer simulations using Baseners formula predict values very close to the actual archeological findings on Easter Island. His teams results were recently published in SIAM Journal of Applied Math.
Basener will next use his formula to analyze the collapse of the Mayan and Viking populations. He also hopes to modify his work to predict population changes in modern day societies.
It is my hope this research can be used to create a better understanding of past societies, Basener adds. It will also eventually help scientists and governments develop better population management skills to avert future famines and population collapses.
Baseners research was done in collaboration with David Ross, visiting professor of mathematics at the University of Virginia, mathematicians Bernie Brooks, Mike Radin and Tamas Wiandt and a group of RIT mathematics students.
I wonder if they will figure out how the people got there in the first place.
Not sure what light has been shed here.
Indeed they do. Wolves and rabbits is one example, but in a closed system such as Easter Island or Greenland a few more variables would complicate the equation enough that a numerical solution might be the only feasible way.
How do you run out of food when your primary source is fish from the ocean? Is it possible a population this small could "over-fish" the area and deplete their resources?
Mainly, they ran out of timber.
These are certainly "skills" I don't want MY governemnt to have!
"Basener will next use his formula to analyze the collapse of the Mayan and Viking populations."
I can't address Mayans, but I would hardly say the Vikings "collapsed."
Vikings named "Russia"; conquered France, Italy, and England.
In north America, they retreated rather than engage in battle when outnumbered (by Skraelings).
They now have some of the highest measured "standards of living."
I love so many of your post thanks
Maybe he means the Greenland Colony.
Too bad the Pacific Ocean ran out of fish.
(the text of my previous post disappeared somehow.)
Burp!!! (excuse me)
I thought they determined that Vikings conquered and then colonized with their families, so that they didn't really collapse but instead simply spread out.
Easter Island went straight to hell after they found out how to open the hatch leading straight down into the Lost Well of Doom.
Interesting. Does this explain where the tiki bar came from, I wonder.
I dunno...looked sure'nuff like the Vikings collapsed to me..this last Sunday.
Yup. Couldn't build boats or paddles to go fishing and couldn't cook the fish once caught. Drift wood must have been very valuable.
No timber, no boats.
Don't know about you, but I never caught much in the surf.
"I wonder if they will figure out how the people got there in the first place."
After that Tsunami, they found a guy drifting on a coconut tree thousands of miles from where he started. He lived on the coconuts!
"It will also eventually help scientists and governments develop better population management skills"
Sounds like the 2000 had no clue about planting new trees, farming or fishing. The 20% of their 10,000 were not the doers, but the welfare types of their culture I guess.
well said, indeed re: the Vikings.
I have a hard time reducing the investigating of ancient civilizations to a mathematical equation, seems so cold...but then again, I'm no scientist, just an amateur interested in these things.
Then there was a famine in 1811/12 in the far North, and that population crashed ~ thousands of people moved South or to America. Later on there were more widespread droughts that affected most or all of Europe, and more tens of thousands of people moved out, or died.
The 19th Century saw several serious depopulation events in Europe.
In the end we find 90% of the descendants of the populations located in the Celtic Fringe in America, Canada, South America or Australia. Half the people of Swedish ancestry live in the United States, mostly in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Washington The Danes moved to Ohio, Indiana and Illinois (to raise pigs). Probably a full third of the Germans in this world reside in the American Midwest and Pennsylvania.
This fellow's mathematics will probably prove useful in determining what percentages of a population have to be under stress from inadequate food to decide to emigrate.
Brudder bought a coconut, he bought it for a dime,
His sister had anudder one she paid it for a lime.
She put de lime in de coconut, she drank 'em bot' up
She put de lime in de coconut and called de doctor, woke 'im up.
And said, "Doctor, ain't there nothin' I can take?'
I said, "Doctor, to relieve this belly ache."
I said "Doctor, ain't there nothin' I can take?"
I said, "Doctor, now lemme get this straight,
You put the lime in the coconut, you drink 'em bot'up,
Put the lime in the coconut, you drink 'em bot' up,
Put the lime in the coconut, you drink 'em bot' up,
Put the lime in the coconut. You're such a silly woman.
I don't think they can figure out how they transported and erected the huge stone heads, let alone determine the nature of the civilization. He/they may be right about the eventual outcome, however, as their society may have de-evolved over time and they lost their technology.
Harri Seldon has been born.
Whats so hard to figure it out. Its simple. The Liberals took over. This has been shown time & time again.
The Vikings colonized the Faeroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland, founded Dublin, and conquered the Isle of Man and the Hebrides and Orkneys. They didn't conquer all of France or Italy, but they did rule Normandy and southern Italy and Sicily. The settlements on Greenland eventually died out, about 500 years after they were started (longer than any English-speaking communities have existed in North America). And they did this all without coffee or chocolate.
A high probability explanation.
Maybe the doers evacuated when they saw the impending disaster.
Yes, they probably saw you couldn't change the welfare types and rather risk life on the water in search of new land than face the criminal activity of those they left behind.
Could be, we don't know.
Red Tide sounds like a very realistic and reasonable theory.
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"He lived on the coconuts!"
Must have had *really* strong hands.
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