top of page
  • Writer's pictureHamid Rafizadeh

Message in an ancient bottle … should anyone listen?

Updated: Dec 4, 2018

I am always amazed at how good humans are at NOT LISTENING to ancient wisdom. We are superb at ignoring the past. The distant past is often declared irrelevant and not informing the present.

Consider a thought experiment.

Assume you’re on holiday at the ocean shore, watching a beautiful sunrise, and suddenly you spot a bottle floating up and down the waves. You swim to get it, bring it to the shore, and open it. Your heart pounds with excitement as you see a small roll of parchment inside. As you unroll the parchment, your excitement gives way to distress as it is written in a language you do not know. You say, “The heck with vacation,” and get into your car, drive to town’s library which you have always passed by in your trips and never gone inside. “There’s always a first,” you mumble to yourself, waiting in your car for the library to open. It opens and you rush in, asking for the head librarian, now suddenly worried that the message might be about a treasure; the librarian will read it, not tell you about what it really says and will beat you to the treasure before you can decipher the message.

You calm yourself down, show the parchment to the librarian and ask, “Do you know what it says?” You quickly learn that the parchment is as unreadable to the librarian as it is to you. But the librarian makes you happy when she says, “You’d have a better chance at the university’s Ancient and Modern Languages Department.”

You know the university, quickly find the department and start knocking on each professor’s door, hoping someone is in. In the third office someone answers, looks at the parchment and quickly says, “It looks like ancient Hebrew,” and then takes you down the hall to another office, knocks on the door, but the professor is not in. He gives you the professor’s name and phone number and suggests you call and make an appointment. But you’re too anxious to do so and instead sit on the floor outside the professor’s office and wait.

After an hour, at the moment you’re about to say, “The hell with it,” you notice an old man walking toward you, looking at you with interest and questioning eyes.

“Can I help you?” he says softly.

Moments later you’re in his office and give him the parchment. He looks at it and mumbles, “This is old, very, very old.” Then he pulls out a couple of thick dictionary-like books, consults them and then mutters, “This is a brief message that only says: the sunrise and sunset will reverse soon.”

“What?” is all you can say. Nothing about a treasure? What does one do with the sunrise and sunset reversal?

“Have you seen anything like this before?” you ask. “Do you know what it means?”

The professor shrugs his shoulders and says, “No. This is the first time I have seen it.” Then he adds, “Do you mind if I make a copy to study it in detail?”

Your suspicious mind returns. Is he trying to steal your treasure map?

“Not now professor,” you hiss. “Perhaps later.”

With that you walk out.

A message from the distant past has managed to reach you. The sunrise and sunset will reverse. What are you supposed to do with that information?

With your favorite drink in hand, relaxing on the ocean shore, watching the sunset, you only see two options. First, to ignore the message and simply see the parchment and the bottle as things that might have archaeological value. You know the parchment can be carbon-dated and might be worth a bundle if it turns out to be really old. Second, you believe you’re smart enough to start analyzing the message as to what it means. After all, how difficult is it to research things related to sunrise and sunset? Perhaps the treasure lies in interpretation and not the message itself. You remind yourself that any treasure information always comes in the form of clues to be deciphered. If deciphered, what would it mean that the direction of sunrise and sunset will reverse?

You go back to the library and start the research. You quickly discover that there is no sunrise or sunset. The sun does not rise, nor does it set. The sun is a fixed point of light in the solar system. For those standing on earth, it is an illusion to see the sun rising and setting. What happens is that the earth ROTATES. When the earth rotates into the sun as a fix point of light, it appears as if the sun is rising and when the earth rotates away from the sun as a fixed point of light, it appears as if the sun is setting.

“Why don’t we say, we’re rotating into the sun and rotating out of the sun and instead say the sun is rising and setting? It would be so much more accurate to see it in terms of the earth’s rotation. Do we prefer the falsehood because it seems easier? Do we like illusions?”

You have no answer for that. I have no answer for that.

Why do humans prefer a lie to a fact? Is “ease” the driver? Are we more comfortable with illusions and lies? Who knows!

Knowing that the sunrise and sunset would have nothing to do with the sun and everything to do with the earth, the picture becomes more clear. One no longer needs to worry about the sun and what it does. Any reversal has to do with what happens at the earth. From this perspective you find the Arctic view of the earth most instructive—looking down at the earth from above the North Pole. It allows you to see the day and the night in relation to the sun. At the same time it allows you to see the turning into the sun as sunrise and the turning away from the sun as sunset.

Now that you know the facts about the sunrise and sunset, how can the sunrise and sunset reverse? The first obvious possibility is to reverse the direction of the earth’s rotation. Reverse the earth’s rotation, and the sunrise and sunset will reverse. Can it be done?

As you think about it I tell you that I know the rotation reversal is impossible. I don’t even need to think about the earth; all I need to think about is driving a car. What happens if I am driving at 70 miles per hour, going north and SUDDENLY reverse direction and go south at 70 miles per hour? That would correspond to going from 70 to zero and back to 70 in the opposite direction. Consider going suddenly from 70 to zero. It is like hitting a very thick concrete wall. Nothing of the car or its driver will survive to be able to reverse the direction. Everything will be torn apart. The same will happen to the earth. Whatever mechanism that would change the earth’s direction of rotation will also tear it apart. No one will survive to see and report on the change in sunrise and sunset. Thus the earth’s rotation cannot change. It must remain the same.

If the earth’s rotation remains the same, and the sun remains a fixed point of light, how can the direction of sunrise and sunset change? How can one change the direction of sunlight that reaches earth?

“I know one simple way of changing the sunlight direction,” I say as you look at me in disbelief.

In fact I observe that every day in my room. I lower or raise the window blinds and with that either block the sunlight from shining into the room or allow it to shine. I also know that whenever I allow the sunlight to shine into my room, depending on the hour of the day, the sunlight falling on the mirror on the wall would reflect in a totally different direction. The mirror changes the direction of sunlight. It can easily reverse the sunlight’s direction.

“So, not only I can change the direction of sunlight by blocking it, I can change its direction by reflecting it,” I say with emphasis.

I know I can do that in my room, but can it be done for the whole earth? Is it possible to block the sunlight from directly reaching the earth and then reflect it to shine on earth’s backside? If so, the direction of sunrise and sunset would reverse.

To show how this can work I draw a picture of how that can be done. All I have done is to place material in orbit around the earth. Forming a shell around the earth would not only block the sunlight, but also reflect it, thus changing the direction of sunrise and sunset.

Now the question changes to the material that creates the shell. From where can one get the material that would create a shell around the earth? That answer is known. The asteroids and comets. They can be the source of the material placed in orbit around the earth. The comets are mostly made of “ice and dirt” and ice can block and reflect well. Once placed around the earth, forming a shell of dirt and ice, the change in the direction of sunrise and sunset is automatic.

“I think I have deciphered the message in your bottle,” I say as you nod in agreement.

The direction of sunrise and sunset can be reversed.

My thoughts now return to something more serious. At the moment of forming the sunlight-altering shell, and later when it collapses, pieces of asteroid or comet will fall earthward. Given that 75% of earth’s surface is water, it means there will be tsunamis the likes of which we have never seen in either intensity or duration. With half of humankind living at ocean shores, preparation for the tsunami threat of the sunset and sunrise reversal becomes a key aspect of humankind’s survival and existence.

“Perhaps the TREASURE that the message in the bottle is pointing at is ‘humankind’,” I say.

“Hmm!” you reply.

Can humans see humankind as “treasure”?

I don’t think so. You nod in agreement.

How can we be so sure? Just have another look at the nuclear arsenals ready to be unleashed on humankind when the time is right. The nuclear arsenals would not exist if humans saw humankind as treasure.

We pause. Is my thought experiment based on a real condition, or is it hypothetical? It turns out that it is real. Egyptian scholars did maintain a record of the sunrise and sunset reversals for tens of thousands of years and told a Greek scholar who in turn recorded and reported it to others.

“You said Egyptian and Greek?” you mumble, mocking. “Not American, German, Russian or Chinese?” you say, laughing out loud.

I don’t reply as I only see nuclear bombs exploding.

“Where can I read about these … these Egyptian and Greek scholars?” you say unable to control your laughter.

“You read about it in Hamid Rafizadeh’s The First Rung.”

Hearing that, you roll on the ground as I worry about harming yourself laughing.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page