The Birth of Science
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Transcript: In the year 584 B.C., on the coast of Asia Minor, two warlike tribes were engaged in a fierce battle: the Medes and the Lydains. As written by the Greek poets, these two cultures were hacking away at each other on the battlefield with burnished swords and shields, when suddenly the sky darkened. The temperature dropped five or ten degrees. Animals started acting strangely, and the warriors, seeing no explanation for the darkening of the Sun, wandered, dazed and confused, from the battlefield. They were ignorant as to the cause of what had surrounded them, but, unbeknownst to them, a man called Thales had used Egyptian eclipse records to predict this eclipse of the sun. Ancient cultures like the Babylonians and the Egyptians made careful observations of the sky. They observed patterns. They had accurate calendars. But they could never answer the fundamental questions that we would ask as scientists: how far away are the objects? What’s their fundamental nature? What are the distances and sizes of the things that you see in the night and daytime sky? They could not answer these questions. The answers first started to come from a Greek group of philosopher-scientists in the 6th century B.C. who lived in the place that is now Greece and Turkey. These philosopher-scientists were able to speculate about the true nature of astronomical objects and the physical nature of the universe for the very first time.
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Transcript: Thales was a philosopher who lived in the 6th century B.C. in Miletus, in what is now Turkey. No written work by Thales survives, but we know that he kept accurate eclipse records and he speculated about astronomy. He decided that the source of all things was one thing, and that...
Published 07/12/11
Transcript: The apparent motions of the stars in the night sky depend on your position on the Earth’s surface. At a northern temperate latitude, the stars rise in the east and set in the west, and they travel on slanting paths across the sky. The north celestial pole sits in the northern sky...
Published 07/12/11
Transcript: At the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, the northern pole of the Earth is tilted as much towards the Sun as it can. The Sun is overhead at noon at the Tropic of Cancer, the Sun never sets north of the Arctic Circle, and the Sun never rises south of the Antarctic Circle. ...
Published 07/12/11