We don’t understand why the development of the wheel, or any theory that the earth is round, was so difficult. The issue is that we see prior philosophers’ findings through the lens of their expertise.
Imagine a world with more dimensions than just space and time. Perhaps future generations will see this information as fundamental, but there are only four dimensions for us. Who knows what bizarre scientific hypotheses about reality will prove to be correct.
Sometimes, in the past, intellectuals proposed hypotheses that were centuries ahead of science and were only proven after a lengthy period. This increases the value of their findings.
Democritus proposed the atom theory
Democritus, who flourished in the 5th and 4th century BC, was the first to propose the existence of atoms. This is even though atoms were just recently discovered, which necessitated the use of advanced technology.
Democritus, of course, could not observe atoms in the manner that modern scientists can, and his theory was only a hypothesis about their existence. The term “atom” is derived from the Greek word “atomon,” which means “indivisible.” Atoms, according to Democritus, are infinite particles that vary in size and form and are indivisible, i.e., they have a monolithic construction.
The existence of atoms was verified much later; however, they were not the same as Democritus had anticipated. Atoms are mostly made up of empty space in which electrons orbit the nucleus. Neutrons and protons make up the nucleus itself. Quarks, gluons, and neutrinos, for example, are even smaller particles.
Democritus was likewise wrong about the infinite number of atoms. In any event, his theory predated science by millennia.
Aristarchus proposed that the earth orbits the Sun
Nicolaus Copernicus wrote “On the revolution of the celestial spheres” in 1543, proving that the Sun, not the earth, is at the centre of the universe. For almost 1,300 years, the geocentric system, or the concept that the earth is the centre of the universe, has been widely accepted.
He was not, however, the first to propose this theory. Aristarchus, an ancient Greek astronomer, mathematician, and philosopher, flourished in the 3rd century BC and proposed the heliocentric view of the world. He also devised a scientific technique for calculating the distance between the Moon and the Sun and their respective sizes.
Furthermore, there was a reference to Aristarchus’ writings in Copernicus’ manuscripts. Still, it was not included in the final form for printing, presumably because the Catholic Church did not hold antiquity’s scientists and philosophers in high regard at the time.
Unfortunately, Aristarchus’ books have perished, although his theories were detailed in Archimedes’ “The Count of Grains of Sand.” The Sun and other stars, according to Aristarchus, stay motionless while the earth rotates in a circle around the Sun. Later thinkers like Seleucus and Pliny the Elder shared this viewpoint. However, Claudius Ptolemy’s subsequent geocentrism thesis, presented in the book “Almagest” in 140, eclipsed the works of antiquity’s scientists and became the only truth for the church, and thus for the rest of the world.
Eratosthenes computed the earth’s radius
Eratosthenes, a Greek mathematician, astronomer, geographer, philologist, and poet, was the head of the Library of Alexandria in the 3rd century BC. Eratosthenes, who had a curious mind and was surrounded by numerous scientific works, chose to calculate the earth’s radius. By the way, the fact that the earth is round has been known since Aristotle’s time, that is, since the 4th century BC.
Eratosthenes was most likely not the first to try to calculate the earth’s radius, but his works on the subject are the oldest. Furthermore, Eratosthenes accomplished it quite well. For his calculations, he compared the shadows thrown at two latitudes on the vernal equinox day, one in Siena and the other in Alexandria or Meroe. As a result, Eratosthenes was able to compute the degree of curvature between latitudes. Based on that, he calculated the diameter of the circle, which was 252 thousand stadia.
The precise stage Eratosthenes employed is unknown, and the figure ranged from 157.2 to 209.4 meters in various locations. Depending on the stage utilized, this varied from 6302 to 8397 kilometres. The radius of the earth, according to current measurements, is 6371 kilometres, and Eratosthenes was pretty near to reality.
Lucretius described the theory of the microbial origin of diseases
Humanity has always thought that higher powers or other supernatural forces produce disease. Furthermore, even throughout the Renaissance, this idea persisted. Long before that, in the first century BC, Titus Lucretius Carus, a Roman poet and philosopher, mentioned the so-called “seeds” in his philosophical poem “On the Nature of Things,” which may bring sickness if breathed.
All-natural occurrences, he argued, are caused by the interaction of innumerable particles with one another rather than by the will of the gods. In other words, his study discusses the presence of bacteria that cause illnesses.
However, the “seeds” described by Lucretius are not microbes in the modern sense. Rather, he talks about something like an improved miasma theory that was popular until the late 19th century. Nevertheless, Lucretius’s theory prompted scientists to study the nature of diseases and helped them discover microorganisms.
Xenophanes discussed the earth’s geological changes
Xenophanes was a poet and philosopher from ancient Greece who flourished in the 6th century BC. Although we did not have access to Xenophanes’ writings, his philosophical concepts were mirrored in the works of medieval intellectuals. So, for example, the early Christian author Hippolytus of Rome’s book “The Exposure of All Heresies” describes Xenophanes’ study of seashells and fossils, as well as the conclusions taken from it.
Xenophanes felt that land and water had been displaced. The land separated from the ocean with time, and those regions distant from the sea during the time of Xenophanes were previously its bottom. Shells and prints of the carcasses of fish and seals discovered in quarries were evidence to him. According to Xenophanes, everything was originally engulfed in silt, and subsequently, parts of the earth emerged, along with the bones of aquatic animals.
Hippolytus of Rome uses the hypothesis of Xenophanes as confirmation of the biblical flood. In reality, Xenophanes discovered proof of geological changes that had occurred on earth for millions of years.