!http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/images/2006/looking_for_moon_06.jpg! Every now and then, come Ramadan, there are scores of people staring up at the sky, “trying to see”:http://www.dawn.com/2006/09/24/top3.htm if the moon has arrived, and thus decide when the month of Ramadan should start.
In this day and age, it’s really something that a whole country still goes by a pair of human eyes to determine the “position of the moon”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_phase, and completely ignores the “large mass right behind the eyes”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_brain. At the least, the Pakistan govt. could get a better telescope, and perhaps hire an astronomer to help them “find” the moon.
Way back in July 1687 “Newton”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton published the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica in which he _”deduced that the forces which keep the planets in their orbs must be reciprocally as the squares of their distances from the centers about which they revolve.”_ Newton’s “law of universal gravitation”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton%27s_law_of_universal_gravitation fixed the position of the moon pretty accurately for the next many million years, and as astronomical observations grew ever better and man figured out the weights of the surrounding planets and the sun, this grew ever more accurate.
“Albert Einstein”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein in 1915 came up with the “theory of general relativity”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_relativity, which besides revolutionizing the scientific world, also spilled over into the Islamic world by calculating the position of the moon for the next billion odd years, or till aliens blow it up, whichever comes first.
Considering that it’s really not rocket science anymore to figure out where the moon is at any given time, it’s strange that here in Pakistan we still rely solely on human eyes to figure out where it is. It’s not just a few people with their superstitious beliefs, it’s the official stated position of the whole damn country that you gotta see it to believe it. Considering their obvious contempt for science, they probabaly look all around the horizon just in case the moon has decided to rise from a new position. The lack of distrust of scientists really shows from the fact that the federal government-appointed Central Ruet-i-Hilal doesn’t contain a single astronomer .
In a weird way, it makes sense though. This is exactly how much of Pakistan works. For example. much of Musharraf’s cabinent is corrupt, but until he actually sees it he won’t belieive it. Evidence and reasoning is for those infidel states, and they can keep their Einsteins and Newtons with their nasty calculations to themselves.
* “U.S. Naval Observatory”:http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/
* “Simple C program to calculate the phase of the moon”:http://www.voidware.com/moon_phase.htm
* “A post on eid”:http://www.kidvai.com/zak/2006/10/we-live-in-amazing-times.html
fn1. Except, of course, for the important stuff like making nukes.