Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Geocentric Universe - Part 1

Introduction


"We may become the markers of our fate when
we have ceased to pose as its prophets"
- Karl Popper

Mankind has always put itself at the centre of reality. This egocentric view on existence extends throughout history. None more so than than the idea that the Earth was centre of the universe, which found its birth in early cosmology. This idea persisted for almost 2000 years until it was finally toppled in what was the rebirth of cosmology. The theory published in 1543, De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium by Mikolaj Kopernik (better known as Copernicus) lay the foundations for what would be a true revolution in cosmology. This theory would help trigger new theories and ideas which would lead to the acceptance of the heliocentric model.

De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium

In this series of posts I will present the ideas of early cosmology and the evolution of these theories, from the observations of the Babylonians to the Greek geocentric model and how knowledge and freedom of thought was lost to the Dark Ages in Europe. In these posts I will only be dealing with the advancement of cosmology in the western world. Cosmology also developed throughout the rest of the world at this time but here I am only concerned with how the geocentric model developed by the Greeks evolved and persisted for so many years.


Pre-Greek Cosmology

Cosmology can trace its history back to the earliest recorded human history (c3500 B.C.). The Babylonians are considered the first astronomers, they made detailed observations of the sky. With the aid of these observations they developed calenders and were ab;e to predict eclipses. The Babylonians used 30 stars as reference points to help in their predictions.

Babylonian Star Calender


In 625 BC the Babylonian empire was invaded by the Chaldean empire even though they ransacked many of the cites, they took care not to destroy the data and the observations made by the Babylonian astronomers. They even went to the extent of embracing the data and expanding on it. They expanded on the set of 30 stars to help make up the first constellations and further developed the calender.

As with many civilizations at this time celestial events were linked with those on Earth. This area of interest is known as astrology. The belief was that events in the celestial could influence or predict events here on Earth. Astrology and cosmology remained linked and developed together until the scientific revolution in the 15th century. Even today astrology remain popular even in the light of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. 

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