Ancient Cosmic Theories


Sadly the animations in this part of the website will not work

because JAVA Applets have been banned. I will try to recreate them in JS/HTML5 as soon as possible.


Most of us take a basic understanding of the sky for granted. The Sun is a star. The Earth and other planets are physical objects that orbit the Sun according to physical laws. But long ago there were very different views of the cosmos. Some of those views are presented here in a simple animated form. 

Early View of the Cosmos

Ancient peoples studied the sky because they thought there was a close connection between the positions of stars and planets and events on Earth. The Babylonians began keeping records as far back as 2000BC and developed techniques for predicting the movement of the Sun, Moon and planets. 

The  Greeks began looking for an underlying reason why things in nature happen. Thales of Miletus (625 - ~547BC) believed that nature is understandable. Anaximander (~610 - 545BC) described the stars as "condensations of air with openings where the flames come out." The Pythagoreans realised that the Earth is a sphere and by ~200BC Eratosthenes (~276 - ~195BC)  had establish a fairly accurate estimate of the size of the Earth.

Through the ages, philosophers developed ever more complex geometries seeking to explain the movement of the planets. At the time of Aristotle, the Greeks were keen to discover geometric rules that could describe the motion of celestial objects and predict their positions into the future.

To view the animations select one of the philosopher/scientist names below then follow the "Previous/Next" links at the bottom of each page. If you are interested in "what happens after Newton?"  then go to the "Gravity Simulation" page.




Tony Evans 2004-2014

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