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    Re: Definition of term
    From: Trevor Kenchington
    Date: 2003 Feb 4, 12:19 -0400

    Hi Martin,
    > How is it that "with the sun" is synonymous with "clockwise"?  The way I
    > look at it, clock hands go around in circles, and the sun goes from east to
    > west.  I know you're right, I'm not disputing that, but I don't get the
    > connection.
    Before there were hands on clocks (long, long before), there were
    shadows on sundials and even shadows of standing stones passing over
    assorted marks on the ground. North of the Tropic of Cancer, those
    shadows move each day from roughly west, through north to roughly east
    (though in the high north in summer, they can keep on going through
    south to west). Even without the shadow, an observer at most northern
    latitudes sees the Sun move with the same rotational sense: east through
    south to west.
    Since all of Earth's great civilizations (aside from ancient Zimbabwe,
    the Incas and the latter's precursors) had their roots astride or north
    of that Tropic, what we have come to regard as the proper way for clocks
    to rotate is the direction that shadows move on northern sundials. In
    short, "clockwise" is synonymous with "with the Sun" in the Northern
    Hemisphere because "clockwise" is defined to be the way that the Sun
    appears to move when seen from that Hemisphere (north of the Tropic anyway).
    None of this would make any sense to a Micronesian navigator, of course,
    who sees the Sun pass from east to west through the Zenith (give or take
    the width of a hand span held at arms length). But the Chinese, North
    Indian, Arabic and European cultures which between them invented so much
    of our technology, including clocks with rotating hands, were not
    centred in Equatorial regions and saw a Sun which rotated through much
    of the compass.
    Trevor Kenchington
    Trevor J. Kenchington PhD                         Gadus{at}iStar.ca
    Gadus Associates,                                 Office(902) 889-9250
    R.R.#1, Musquodoboit Harbour,                     Fax   (902) 889-9251
    Nova Scotia  B0J 2L0, CANADA                      Home  (902) 889-3555
                         Science Serving the Fisheries

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