Huseng wrote:They also had atomic theory and measurements for things at the atomic level.
Atomic theory, yes. Measurements for things at the atomic level - no.
They had fanciful names for things and a lot of speculation. I'll grant you that it was basically on the same level as the pre-scientific age that came along later in Europe.
There is also the question of how much knowledge from ancient periods has simply been lost with no record of it. Take for example the antikythera mechanism which was pulled out of the sea about a century ago. Until it was discovered we really had no idea people in that period of Roman/Greek history could build such things.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antikythera_mechanism
It leads one to wonder about other lost technologies, sciences and knowledge.
That's true but it also shows that clock and calendar devices on the verge of being mechanical analog computers have been possible for a long time. Humans have been using mechanical calculators for much longer than people imagine. And for restricted purposes have been using basic analog computers (you can make an analog computer out of string or sticks - you just have to have the idea that you are mapping some ideas onto the string or stick representation).
In India especially given the vague historical record we're really uncertain about its ancient periods. Some of the ancient literature even speaks of flying devices and metal automatons of all things.
None of which we've found. You'll need something out of the realm of von Danikenesque "speculation".
When it comes to astronomy, as Thompson points out in his book, they had no shortage of accurate astronomical knowledge. Some of it doesn't match up with contemporary numbers, but then much of it actually does correspond close enough. There's also the possibility of data being corrupted over the centuries in the transmission of the texts (Thompson indicates this as well).
I'll have to check out the text. Ancients had very accurate astronomical data. However they did not have a real description of our solar system as it really physically exists. They seem to know have known that planets orbited the Sun in ellipses for example. It really seems that no one knew that until Kepler (who wouldn't have figured it out either if he accepted observational errors in Brahe's extensive observations like everyone else).
I have read a mathematician who noted that Mayan observations of Venus were thought to be religious poems until he figured out that they were astronomical observations dealing with the rising and setting of Venus (I think through a very long cycle in terms of years). It's not impossible that other people knew about orbits and knew about them accurately. But it doesn't appear too likely.
Curiously, Vedic astronomy also claims its knowledge was bestowed unto humanity from gods. It was originally knowledge not of this world. Vedic mathematics are also associated with various gods. Apparently some gods like math.
How extensive is Vedic math? Mathematics is the very structure of the physical universe (and in this case I mean all phenomena).