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Human understanding of earth and celestial objects

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Category: GENERAL HISTORY
Forum Name: Natural Sciences through the Ages
Forum Description: Discuss natural science and its effects on the world
URL: http://www.worldhistoria.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=125167
Printed Date: 27 Sep 2020 at 04:36
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Topic: Human understanding of earth and celestial objects
Posted By: fantasus
Subject: Human understanding of earth and celestial objects
Date Posted: 31 Dec 2009 at 08:33

A fascinating topic in my view is the question about how such ideas may hav evolved as 1: The earth is very far from being anything like a "flat disk"(it is nearly spherical, but perhaps there has been a lot of other ideas through the ages) and 2:some of the celestial objects are of immense proportions and distances, compared with most "familiar" objects.

A fascinating aspect of this question may be that it may not at all be necessary with very advanced tools to get such ideas, but only perhaps requires people moving around, observing and most of all use their brains. Peples as phoenicians, greeks, malays and polynesians and prbbly a lot of othrs should have all the observational opportunities needed. So when became humans mentally ready to ccept and conclude from what they could observe?



Replies:
Posted By: drgonzaga
Date Posted: 31 Dec 2009 at 10:42
What you see is not what you necessarily get! But, if you are going to posit that the ancient world believed the earth flat then you'd better get back to the books.

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Honi soit qui mal y pense


Posted By: Carcharodon
Date Posted: 04 Jan 2010 at 10:18
It seems that the view of the world have varied a lot. But at least many of the old greeks and others understood  that it was spherical. Erathostenes even calculated the circumference of the globe in the third century BC.

But there were also some relapses in the view of the Earth as for example in the case of Cosmas Indicopleustes (sixth century AD) strange, flat, tabernacle world.


Posted By: fantasus
Date Posted: 04 Jan 2010 at 10:42
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

What you see is not what you necessarily get! But, if you are going to posit that the ancient world believed the earth flat then you'd better get back to the books.
No, certainly at least from the ancient greeks there was some who had the idea of a spherical earth - fewer even a heliocentric or "infinite universe". The question may be the origin of such ideas, and perhaps more exotic ideas about the earth and cosmos. What kind of observation or speculation led humans to the idea of the earth and even cosmos as we know it? There is of  course the written sources and the famous astronomers and philosophers but perhaps some more "anonymous knowledge" amy have had some influence? perhaps peoples from other places got such ideas too?


Posted By: drgonzaga
Date Posted: 04 Jan 2010 at 14:13
Originally posted by Carcharodon Carcharodon wrote:

It seems that the view of the world have varied a lot. But at least many of the old greeks and others understood  that it was spherical. Erathostenes even calculated the circumference of the globe in the third century BC.

But there were also some relapses in the view of the Earth as for example in the case of Cosmas Indicopleustes (sixth century AD) strange, flat, tabernacle world.
 
Carch, stay away from Wiki! "Cosmas" is no more an expression of "Christian geography" as the claim for the Gnostics as early Christians!
 
Fantasus, as far as the "anonymous" is concerned do you understand the meaning behind the term kosmos.


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Honi soit qui mal y pense


Posted By: Carcharodon
Date Posted: 04 Jan 2010 at 14:49
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Originally posted by Carcharodon Carcharodon wrote:

It seems that the view of the world have varied a lot. But at least many of the old greeks and others understood  that it was spherical. Erathostenes even calculated the circumference of the globe in the third century BC.

But there were also some relapses in the view of the Earth as for example in the case of Cosmas Indicopleustes (sixth century AD) strange, flat, tabernacle world.
 
Carch, stay away from Wiki! "Cosmas" is no more an expression of "Christian geography" as the claim for the Gnostics as early Christians!


Never said that. I just said that some people (like Cosmas) could have different views of the world. And I actually knew of and read about Cosmas and his tabernacle world a long time before there even was any Wikipedia.



Posted By: Carcharodon
Date Posted: 04 Jan 2010 at 15:06
Otherwise many old mythologies are full of interesting views of the world, views like it is the back of a gigantic turtle (as in some Amerindian myths), or made out of the carcass of a Common goldenye (in old Finnish folklore), or made out of the carcass of a giant or a part of a gigantic tree (old Norse). But probably many people who lived in the realms of these mythologies also could have alternative views about the shape and composition of the Earth. Especially people who travelled the oceans would have some ideas of a round shape in some way.

And many old cultures seems to have had a keen interest in studying the orbits of celestial bodies, in order to be able to measure time for ceremonies and other recurring events, but also to be able to read the will of higher powers. Also here folklore and mythology can give some hints about how different ancient peoples interpreted the phenomena of the sky.
Also archaeology can give us hints in images and similar.


Posted By: fantasus
Date Posted: 04 Jan 2010 at 19:22
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

 
Fantasus, as far as the "anonymous" is concerned do you understand the meaning behind the term kosmos.
As far as we talk about the exact original meaning of the ancient greek word I am sorry to say no.
"World", "world order" or "idea of world order" (depending on context) may be how I would use and understand the word "cosmos" (related to "cosmology") myself.
What I find fascinating about the subject of those aspects of early worldviews(size and shape of earth and celestial objects) are that it seems most people did not have a very good idea for most of human existence, yet some of the "necessary observations" could in principole be made nearly everywhere in every era without very advanced physical tools or instruments.
One may perhaps ask if humans normally had some mental "filters" that caused ignorance or denial of observationas rumming against their inherited world views and "instinctive" feelings.


Posted By: drgonzaga
Date Posted: 05 Jan 2010 at 05:50
Keep in mind that what one "observes" may not be reality at all!

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Honi soit qui mal y pense


Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 28 Jun 2015 at 10:50
A philosopher was at a party, talking to an old Indian (India Indian) woman.
She said, "the world sits on the back of a turtle!"
Oh really? said the philosopher, what does that turtle sit on?
Woman replies, "let me save you some time, it is turtles all the way down." 

Anaximander of Miletus 6th c. BC was the first to realize that what we call "space" had depth and that the planets were scattered within that depth, however, he thought the sun was closest to the earth, I believe his reasoning was it was able to heat up the earth.  Anaximander conceived of the earth as a big drum, like a section of a column, possibly influenced by temple construction and architectural treatises of the day.  Anaximander was also given credit for making a map (and, maybe, a celestial map), perhaps like the bronze map that the Milesians had in Herodotus' _Histories_.


Posted By: Paradigm of Humanity
Date Posted: 03 Jul 2015 at 11:57
Contrary to what I would expect, every single astronomer understood planets as seperate entities and recognised stars was much more far away. They saw planets were in a different place same hour of next day but star only shifted 1 degrees (1.014 degrees to be a little more precise) due the earth's rotation around the sun - which they were aware of. And stars were always in same place after one year, same day, same hour... So from their perspective stars were static and far away objects. Of course if they had more lifetime they would recognise even stars change position (30 degrees approximetly in every 2 millenia) due sun's rotation around galactic center.


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the single postmodern virtue of obsessive egalitarianism


Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 28 Jan 2018 at 07:50
One thing that I think is interesting about the planets, are that they (the names) are all masculine except Venus.  Could it be that a sharp eyed observer could tell that Venus had phases like the moon?  The other feminine heavenly body?  
Also, as Paradigm points out, the ancients knew about parallax, and since they didn't see it all with the stars, assumed that heavenly sphere of the stars went around the Earth and so did everything else.  They were drawing conclusions from their observations, they just did not know how far away the stars were.  With modern instruments, parallax (in its minuteness) can be detected for the stars.

It is not until Johannes Kepler that the (Copernican) model is refined enough to beat out the Ptolemaic (or Brahe) models. 


Posted By: caldrail
Date Posted: 03 Feb 2018 at 01:29
Interest in the heavens evolves as mankind achieves agriculture and has the time to ponder things instead of being kept busy with survival. Since early cultures had no understanding of what these things were, they were observed and noted as being cyclical, thus not only a manifestation of divine will but something that was marking the progress of time too. Add to that the human talent for pattern recognition and the need for mysterious and exclusive lore as a means of controlling others, the heavens were an obvious if not entirely reliable way of providing their culture with substantive omens and interpretations.

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http://www.unrv.com/forum/blog/31-caldrails-blog/


Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 05 Feb 2018 at 13:38
I imagine that familiarity with constellations dates back to prehistoric hunter/gatherer time.  Something they could contemplate for 1000s of years in clear, dark skies, with little light pollution, (at least in some places).  Mythologists are starting to trace back stories, and some (often with astronomical components)  stories dating back 1000s or even 10,000s years.  Later, during agriculture, it was probably realized that 'astronomy' was useful for calendars and keeping time.  Of course, one could keep track of the seasons in the forest (sort of) by when plants bud, flower and boom.  What was the first tree to bud its leaves?  What is the last?  Of course, such kind of knowledge is also cyclical.

It makes a certain kind of sense that something that is _always_ around (the stars) should be thought to have an influence on every day events.  Of course, we are wiser than that, and would never ourselves stoop to superstition:P

I think if we look at hunter gatherers, they have a lot more time on their hands, then agriculturalists do.  The difference is that one is starting to get into more specialization with agriculture.

I believe the Egyptians have certain constellations that it takes watching for  hours to see the 'whole' thing or maybe more.  I mean like the beginning has set, when the end of the constellation is arising.


Posted By: caldrail
Date Posted: 05 Feb 2018 at 20:50
Hunter gatherers had little time for anything else than ensuring their survival, though I do accept there were always going to moments of downtime when observation is possible. However, survival is a very intensive activity for human beings. I recall a news item about an escaped prisoner. Armed with one of those popular SAS survival books he decided to hide out in a copse and live off the land. After two weeks a dishevelled loner tried to buy matches and was soon picked up by Police. Survival is a group activity - not for nothing are human beings social animals, though in fairness our ability to cooperate isn't always great as many recent adventure tv series show.
 
Neolithic farmers chose a survival strategy in investing in crops and animal husbandry. That gave them much more free time and we see rapid developments in society and religion during that stage, such as Britain, with a island spanning faith that inspired the building of Stonehenge and other such sites, creating an entire ritual landscape still visible today.


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http://www.unrv.com/forum/blog/31-caldrails-blog/


Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 06 Feb 2018 at 11:25
For the ancient Greeks (Aristotle), only beasts and gods were outside of society.  One explanation for ADD (attention deficit disorder or maybe ADHD attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is that it originated from a hunting environment, humans needing to be intensely engaged for short period, with long periods of nothing in particular, in-between.  At least that is what I have heard.  I tend to think a lot of "disorders" or "conditions" have advantages in certain contexts.

I think that the word "observation" in terms of hunter gatherers, is interesting.  We tend to think as observation as detached 'viewing' of some [thing], but I would think that would be unknown to them, or at least unusual.  Not that I am disagreeing with you caldrail, it is just that i doubt that anything for them would be detached.


Posted By: Vanuatu
Date Posted: 11 Feb 2018 at 02:39
Weather, female reproduction, seasons and the moon are connected. If you have the concept that 1+1+1=3  then you understand cause and effect and co occurrence. Which seems simple but it's a natural repeating pattern that can keep you fed.
 
Human migration could have been about hunting. Animals may not have looked up but they were following natural tones when food sources got scarce. Successful intuitive journeys would not become dead ends.
When animals follow an annual route for water (elephants Ivory Coast) during the dry season, their movement can be recorded in multidimensional ways, as above so below. A creature capable of hunting an animal with weapons would remember constellations, have names for them and try to embrace their effect. It's a creature that probably still feels natural earth tones like an animal does but he is replacing some intuition with thought.


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Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate. (J. R. R. Tolkien)


Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 12 Feb 2018 at 11:22
"one and one and one is three, got to be good looking cause he is so hard to see."   I don't know what exactly you are saying in regards to cause and effect or co(?) occurrence.

And just by coincidence that song (come Together) is for the men's figure skating right now on TV.  a little synchronicity.....  Or a little Beatles fest.

Or migration could be about moving on, after slash and burn or hunting out an area.


Posted By: Guest
Date Posted: 12 Feb 2018 at 13:29
Vanuatu

Quote Weather, female reproduction, seasons and the moon are connected.

Is that right?? Perhaps that's why I ended up with six kids!!Wink

But, take yourself back a million years. You're walking along, the yellow thing has disappeared from the sky, which is now black, except for tiny white things which appear to be so far away.

"What are they?" you wonder, "What do they do?"

And the questions linger over generations, until, eventually, some people make it their lifetimes work to come up with some workable theories.

And, in the main, it's only theories that exist today.


Posted By: Vanuatu
Date Posted: 12 Feb 2018 at 22:42
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

  I don't know what exactly you are saying in regards to cause and effect or co(?) occurrence.

Co occurrance macro, as in advancement in tools comes about in early, middle and stone age during periods of climatic extremes.
Or micro, finding a source for good stone to make tools. Finding an accompanying piece to cut the flakes, understanding that the result will be hand ax. Changing the size of flaking stone produces different result.

Migrations along the coast would show the moon/tide connection and animal behavior could be the 3 in that equation. Moon + Tide + Beach=crabs to eat.


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Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate. (J. R. R. Tolkien)


Posted By: Vanuatu
Date Posted: 12 Feb 2018 at 23:35
Originally posted by toyomotor toyomotor wrote:

Vanuatu

Quote Weather, female reproduction, seasons and the moon are connected.

Is that right?? Perhaps that's why I ended up with six kids!!Wink

But, take yourself back a million years. You're walking along, the yellow thing has disappeared from the sky, which is now black, except for tiny white things which appear to be so far away.

"What are they?" you wonder, "What do they do?"

And the questions linger over generations, until, eventually, some people make it their lifetimes work to come up with some workable theories.

And, in the main, it's only theories that exist today.
If creatures understand that like reproduction the heavenly bodies operate in a semi-predictable way it would not be just a theory. Wouldn't it become a dependable, measurable expectation? Like how to make fire, catch fish etc. I don't have to understand how my car engine works to take advantage of the fact that it does work.
Perhaps you ended up with 6 kids because you are good man, husband and father. 


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Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate. (J. R. R. Tolkien)


Posted By: Guest
Date Posted: 13 Feb 2018 at 02:05
Quote  I don't have to understand how my car engine works to take advantage of the fact that it does work.

Not in the minutiae but obviously you know that it needs oil and water in one end, fuel in the opposite end and air in the tyres for it to run.

Of course you needn't know that the distributor (or computer) regulates the spark that ignites the fuel/air mix in the combustion chamber and causes the multiple mini explosions that move the pistons and turn the crank shaft, while the valves raise and lower to allow gas to escape. No woman does!

(Just like they like to hang their handbags on the indicator lever LOL cause they think that's what it's for.)

But now that I've told you some very, very basics about motor car engines, don't get the urge to go out and bloodyLOL fiddle

Daily, we all take advantage of our surroundings, in the blissful ignorance of precisely how it all pieces together, but can you imagine-clean, unpolluted air, a sparkling sky, a nice bottle of wine, or three and a picnic blanket, your significant other and a full moon?


Posted By: Vanuatu
Date Posted: 13 Feb 2018 at 02:12
Originally posted by toyomotor toyomotor wrote:

Quote  I don't have to understand how my car engine works to take advantage of the fact that it does work.

Not in the minutiae but obviously you know that it needs oil and water in one end, fuel in the opposite end and air in the tyres for it to run.

Of course you needn't know that the distributor (or computer) regulates the spark that ignites the fuel/air mix in the combustion chamber and causes the multiple mini explosions that move the pistons and turn the crank shaft, while the valves raise and lower to allow gas to escape. No woman does!

(Just like they like to hang their handbags on the indicator lever LOL cause they think that's what it's for.)

But now that I've told you some very, very basics about motor car engines, don't get the urge to go out and bloodyLOL fiddle

Daily, we all take advantage of our surroundings, in the blissful ignorance of precisely how it all pieces together, but can you imagine-clean, unpolluted air, a sparkling sky, a nice bottle of wine, or three and a picnic blanket, your significant other and a full moon?
I don't know anyone who even changes their own motor oil anymore. 

Yes I can imagine that scene 1+1+1=3 add 1=4 and that is a building block for a foundationBig smile


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Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate. (J. R. R. Tolkien)


Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 15 Feb 2018 at 10:06
To get a little bit back to the topic.
The ancients knew the Earth was round, because they could see its shadow upon the moon (lunar eclipse).  Anaximander of Miletus thought it was a disc, not a sphere.  The ancients could also figure out that it was curved from how ship goes off into the distance, gradually going below the horizon.  But, the ancient Greeks also knew about optical effects, and incorporated them into architecture, so they knew that there could be problems with plain observations.  They understood that there were limits to conceptualization, if you couldn't imagine something, for you it would not exist.


Posted By: Guest
Date Posted: 15 Feb 2018 at 15:32
Quote To get a little bit back to the topic.

Ha!! This from the Happy Wanderer.Clap


Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 16 Feb 2018 at 11:28
The Greeks of the Classical age knew about 5 wanderers, or planets.  I am not familiar enough with astrology to say which one is the happy one.  Is that what you are talking about, or are you trying to take us off topic??
In their Romanized names that we use:
Mercury,
Venus,
Much earlier, you had the Evening Star and the Morning Star, which came to be recognized as Venus.  These names are in Greek, I believe, have no equivalents in Babylonian.
Mars,
Jupiter,
Saturn.


Posted By: Guest
Date Posted: 16 Feb 2018 at 12:37
Quote The Greeks of the Classical age knew about 5 wanderers, or planets.  I am not familiar enough with astrology to say which one is the happy one.  Is that what you are talking about, or are you trying to take us off topic??

No, what I'm saying is how ironic that you, who wanders off topic with monotonous regularity, should encourage someone else to remain on topic.Smile

As for the stars, they were visible to the naked eye thousands of years before anyone named nine of them planets. How wondrous would they have been to ancient humans?




Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 17 Feb 2018 at 08:35
Earth was visible to the naked eye, but nobody ever mistook it for a star,<grin>, and I don't think you have to be an ancient human to find the stars or other astronomical bodies wondrous.  In antiquity, the heavens in their motions were considered perfect, until Galileo had to go and muck it all upStar  But of course, that lead to Kepler and Newton, which lead to a consolidation of terrestrial (descriptive) physics and celestial (descriptive) physics into Newton's quantitative physics.  Plato would have entirely disapproved.


Posted By: Guest
Date Posted: 17 Feb 2018 at 12:01
Quote Earth was visible to the naked eye, but nobody ever mistook it for a star

Are you serious?

To whose naked eye, the person standing on it?


Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 18 Feb 2018 at 10:00
"As for the stars, they were visible to the naked eye thousands of years before anyone named nine of them planets. How wondrous would they have been to ancient humans?"

What is visible to the naked eye?  The stars.
".... before anyone named nine of them planets."  What is them? again the stars.  "Named nine of them planets."  Earth is a planet, but it was never named "a star," and it is visible, no?  Clap

In fact, it was probably not until Copernicus (or Galileo) that Earth was listed with the planets.

Also Uranus, Neptune and Pluto each have never been identified as a star.  And were totally unknown in antiquity.
I'm just having a little fun with you, toyomotor, but I do think your statement is a little sloppy and not as clear as you might think.....

Peace,
gottogo.
Jf



Posted By: Guest
Date Posted: 18 Feb 2018 at 14:59
Oh, woe is me!!

Let's just look at what you wrote again.
Quote the earth was visible

As I wrote-to whom, some celestial travellers?  It's an absurd statement, whether you consider it sloppy or otherwise.

Of course Earth was visible, people were walking on it. They didn't know it as earth though. 

The stars were visible to ancient humans, depending where they were on earth at the time. they would see some stars and not others.

And I was talking about ancient humans not those born a thousand or so years later.

Pull your socks up Frank, you're slipping further and further.



Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 19 Feb 2018 at 06:49
I thought that you said nine of them (those stars) were planets.  But if you are talking about antiquity, there are 5 planets, + Earth.  For the Pythagoreans, there were 10 celestial bodies, sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, [Earth], Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. stars, and the Antichthon (opposite Earth).  There is also something about an invisible fire, or the hearth.

Do you know where the planet Vulcan came from?  Before Star Trek?


Posted By: Guest
Date Posted: 19 Feb 2018 at 19:58
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

I thought that you said nine of them (those stars) were planets.  But if you are talking about antiquity, there are 5 planets, + Earth.  For the Pythagoreans, there were 10 celestial bodies, sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, [Earth], Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. stars, and the Antichthon (opposite Earth).  There is also something about an invisible fire, or the hearth.

Do you know where the planet Vulcan came from?  Before Star Trek?

1. No, I didn't say that.

2. I'm not talking antiquity, if I used that word, it was an error, I'm talking Stone Age and even before that.

3. I'm not a Pythagorean.


Posted By: Vanuatu
Date Posted: 20 Feb 2018 at 03:03
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

"As for the stars, they were visible to the naked eye thousands of years before anyone named nine of them planets. How wondrous would they have been to ancient humans?"

What is visible to the naked eye?  The stars.
".... before anyone named nine of them planets."  What is them? again the stars.  "Named nine of them planets."  Earth is a planet, but it was never named "a star," and it is visible, no?  Clap
You learn that in bible class franciscosan? :)
but seriously planets do 

scin┬Ětil┬Ělate
verb
  1. emit flashes of light; sparkle.
    • fluoresce momentarily when struck by a photon or charged particle.

Quote I'm just having a little fun with you, toyomotor, but I do think your statement is a little sloppy and not as clear as you might think.....

Peace,
gottogo.
Jf

this is fun


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Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate. (J. R. R. Tolkien)


Posted By: Vanuatu
Date Posted: 20 Feb 2018 at 03:07
Originally posted by toyomotor toyomotor wrote:

Oh, woe is me!!

Let's just look at what you wrote again.
Quote the earth was visible

As I wrote-to whom, some celestial travellers?  It's an absurd statement, whether you consider it sloppy or otherwise.

Of course Earth was visible, people were walking on it. They didn't know it as earth though. 

The stars were visible to ancient humans, depending where they were on earth at the time. they would see some stars and not others.

And I was talking about ancient humans not those born a thousand or so years later.

Pull your socks up Frank, you're slipping further and further.


You were on topic toyomotor 
The discussion is human understanding, which began with early humans. Not Greek gender benders.
Doesn't nature already sync with planetary movements? The SEASONS? 

Does not the squirrel storeth his nuts?


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Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate. (J. R. R. Tolkien)



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