Sigma Xi Orange County Chapter

May Meeting

May 21st, 2019.


8:00 PM: The Pendulum, the Pyramid, the Parthenon, and the Pound (The pendulum and standards of measure in the ancient world.) In Early England at the time of the Norman conquest, and up to the time of the Magna Carta, many of the numerous standards of measure in use were of Sumerian or Minoan origin. In the late 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I would also establish the British Imperial Foot and Pound from Ancient Sumerian Standards.

The foot was established as 1/660 of the Anglo Saxon Furlong of 200 Anglo Saxon Yards, which can be traced back to the Sumerian Lunar Steps (yards) of Lagash, immortalized in Guda’s rule and in Entemena’s vase.

The English pound was established as the French wool pound of 6992 grains rounded up to 7,000 grains. It can be traced back to the Etruscan pound to the Babylonian “Octopus” Talent Weight of 64 pounds, or the weight of one Babylonian cubic foot of water.

This Babylonian foot was the second Sumerian attempt to establish their cable of 360 steps, or 1000 feet equal to 1/360th of a degree of the polar circumference of the earth. It appears that the famous pyramid at Giza was designed to this standard with its perimeter equal to 3,000 Sumerian feet, or ½ nautical mile.

In the 19th century, both Stuart and Penrose accurately measured the dimensions of the Parthenon, finding its width to be 0.9997 arc seconds on the polar circumference of the earth. This accuracy puzzled scholars for 150 years. Our research shows the width of the Parthenon in Athens was designed to be 1/3600 of a degree, or one arc second. The same pendulum formula used to design the pyramid, when timed with Venus, rather than the sun, increased the pendulum length just the right amount. This precision was not dumbfounding – just dumb luck.

About the speaker

Roland A. Boucher eceived his BS in Electrical Engineering in 1954 from the University of Connecticut and his MS from Yale University in 1955, is a California Professional Engineer and was inducted into the Model Aviation Hall of Fame. At Hughes Aircraft Co. he was engaged in the design of satellites for communication, navigation, and weather observation. He developed an improved satellite camera to display real-time weather photographs and demonstrated the feasibility of communicating directly from satellite to aircraft using a modified aircraft radio and managed the development of spacecraft communications equipment for the NASA Advanced Technology Satellites . In 1969 he was a member of the US delegation to the first CCIR conference in Geneva to select frequency authorization for satellite communications. In 1973 he left Hughes to form a company devoted to the development of high-altitude solar-powered aircraft. (See Astroflight Sunrise, Wikipedia) After retiring, he remained an active researcher and became interested in (among other things) ancient metrology. He has presented his findings at Sigma Xi, AAAS, and AIAA Western Research Conferences.

Social 1/2 Hour

6:30 PM (no host bar). Come and meet the speaker and the other attendees.


7:00 PM – Reservation required. California Steak Salad – arugula, grilled asparagus, tomato, avocado, chimichurri dressing, onion straws served with warm rolls & butter, fresh-brewed coffee, hot herbal tea and iced tea and apple cobbler ala mode. Full bar service.

[Include your dinner preference (regular or vegetarian) with your check/reservation.]


Be sure to RSVP ASAP to ensure getting a seat!

Send your check (made out to Sigma Xi, Orange County Chapter), which must be received by Friday, May 15th, to

Dr. Peter Kurzhals
16944 Kawai Court.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708-2612

Paid-up members and their guests, $30; $35 for all others; $5 more if you pay at the door.

Dinner with no RSVP is $5 more and the entrée is whatever is available.
(Surprise attendees stress both the kitchen supplies and staff!)

There is no charge for attending the lecture only but

  1. you won’t be admitted to the meeting room before 7:45, and
  2. you must RSVP so we can have a chair for you!

Map and Directions

DoubleTree Club by Hilton Hotel Orange County Airport

In the parking lot, drive up to the front door. There will be no charge if you tell the valet parking attendants that you're going to the Sigma Xi meeting. Arrive early, as the parking lot sometimes fills up quickly.