The Samurai Astronomer and the Time Difference

On my way to California I watched a movie on the plane: “Tenchi: The Samurai Astronomer.” The film was released in 2012.  The IMDB description is “A chronicle of the life of Yasui Santetsu, a 17th century master of Go who turned his attention to astronomy and created a new calendar for Japan.” The film is much more interesting than this short summary suggests. You can check out for clips and photographs.

John T. Fairbairn points to a new book by Ubukata To titled “Tenchi Meisatsu (Insights into the Universe).” This book is about the same person known as “Yasui Santetsu” to Go players. According to Ubukata To “Yasui Santetsuwas also known as Shibukawa Shunkai. Many names same person!

It was wonderful to see a 17’th century version of what scientists and mathematicians go through. Astronomy, astrophysics and physics in general are empirical sciences. Acceptance of a theory is based on repeatable observations and experiments. The candidate theory is expected to predict the observations accurately all the time, not just one time. If a theory has no predictive power then that theory is useless.

In the 17’th century, Japan was using calendars that originated in China. The official calendar had many social functions and it had political significance as well. Trying to change the official calendar was a big deal. People knew that it was necessary to create a new calendar because all the existing calendars were making mistakes in their predictions of the solar and lunar eclipses. That was a very bad because no one wanted to get married or start a new venture on those days. People wanted to know the inauspicious days ahead of time.

In his early astronomy career Yasui Santetsu was trying to determine which of those Chinese calendars was the most accurate. The criterion was the prediction of lunar and solar eclipses. If a calendar was accurate 99% of the time but wrong 1% of the time then that calendar was no good. The assessment of the accuracy of a calendar requires centuries of observations. Yasui Santetsu did not have centuries but he spent decades. After many years of observations performed all over Japan he settled on a particular Chinese calendar but one day that calendar was mistaken in the prediction of a solar eclipse. Then, he was disgraced. With his wife’s encouragement he slowly found the will to get back to his quest with new vigor and after many years of study he finally solved the puzzle.

The solution was very simple. I should say it is simple to us who live in the 21st century because we know that Earth is round and there is a time difference between China and Japan. In the 17’th century the Japanese society was closed to the outside world. People did not know that Earth was round and Earth was rotating around the Sun. Chinese calendars were fine in China but they were off in Japan because of the few hours of time difference. Once Yasui Santetsu realized this and learned the size of the Earth from Western books he was then able to adjust the Chinese calendars and create a new more accurate calendar for Japan.

The key concept is the “time difference.”  What follows is my cryptic notes I scribbled in the plane. This is just for the record. I am sorry for not providing any explanations. Someday I will.

The “time difference” is also a geodesic curvature, of course. “Phase difference” is similar. A “time difference” is also a “phase difference.”

Read the “time difference” differently…read it as “time effect” as explained in Prometheus and Chronos.

Electromagnetic potential creates a phase difference in QM wavefunction. This is very significant! This means that the electromagnetic potential is creating a “time effect.”


About Suresh Emre

I have worked as a physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the Superconducting Super Collider Laboratory. I am a volunteer for the Renaissance Universal movement. My main goal is to inspire the reader to engage in Self-discovery and expansion of consciousness.
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