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The Sound of Science - 'Ancient Egypt'

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Joe: Good afternoon listeners and welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Joseph Flynn from the NIU’s Center for Black Studies and today I’m joined by Ms. Gaylen Rivers. 

Gaylen: This month we’ll explore the achievements of Black figures in STEM in honor of Black Heritage Month. 

Joe: The suppression of the contributions of Black culture existed for centuries. Today, we’re going to look at some of the many suppressed achievements of the ancient Egyptians. 

Gaylen: First, let’s look at the Shabaka Stone. Dating back to 2649–2150 BCE, the Shabaka Stone tells one of the world’s first creation myths. The ancient Egyptians did not divide religion, philosophy, and science but saw them as interdependent.  

Joe: Scientifically, they were the first to divide the day into 24 hours and the first to develop a 365-day calendar, based on the movement of the stars. Nabta Playa in southern Egypt is the location of the oldest astro-archeological calendar on the planet. Created around 7000 BC, the Nabta Playa calendar is more than 3000 years older than Stonehenge. The calendar was used to mark the beginning of summer solstice and the coming of the monsoon season. 

Gaylen: Egyptians were also the first to create structures that aligned with celestial bodies. For example, all three pyramids at Giza have entryways that face North and are aligned to the North Star. 

Joe: Quickly though, here are just a few more accomplishments made by the Egyptians. They created the first clock, the first paper, developed an irrigation system for the Nile river, created indoor plumbing systems from copper pipes, and contributed to massive discoveries in astronomy. For example, they knew the earth was round and revolved around the sun thousands of years before Copernicus, and measured the earth’s circumference, missing the exact measure by only a couple of meters. 

Joe: We’d like to sign off with a quote from pan-African historian Kaba Kemene. “When someone tells a perfect lie, the truth becomes unbelievable.” 

Gaylen: We’ll see you next week. This was the Sound of Science on WNIJ. 

Joe: Where you learn something new every day. 

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