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TheCloudFestival t1_j4ktb2l wrote

Yes, but we should be careful here.

Aristarchus had an incredible idea that was well ahead of its time, but he didn't reach the conclusion of heliocentrism based on careful calculations or observations. Quite the opposite; He fully supported the Ancient Greek model of epicycle orbits of the known planets, and like Copernicus many hundreds of years later, was attempting to map the epicycular orbits of the planets onto the perfect Platonic solids.

His reasoning that the Sun was at the centre of the Universe was the result of the same thought process that all Ancient Greek natural philosophers engaged in; What was the cosmic hierarchical order of the five basic elements (Earth, water, air, fire, and quintessence)?

All of them had concluded that quintessence was at the top of the hierarchy, and so it surrounded and permeated all things. It was the crystalline medium of the Cosmos in which the fixed stars were embedded.

The disagreements came from deciding the order from there. The Aristotelean School put Earth next, so the Earth was given the dominant position in the Cosmos. Thales of Miletus also placed the Earth at the centre, but that was because he believed the Earth was composed almost entirely of water, and water was the second in the hierarchy after quintessence. Aristarchus placed fire as the next below quintessence, and so he concluded the Sun was at the centre of the Cosmos.

We must understand that Ancient Greek natural philosophers largely did not conclude results through careful measurement or practical demonstration, but instead took existing models and modified them to fit their own personal biases and conclusions. The epicycle model of the Solar System was particularly useful in these regards because if the movement of the planets didn't match one's predetermined conclusions, one could merely posit that there were greater or fewer epicycular movements of the planets when they dipped below the horizon, the Ancient Greeks being unable to view their orbital paths from the Southern Hemisphere.

The reason you've learned about and remembered the times when the Ancient Greek natural philosophers did use careful measurements and practical demonstrations, like Archimedes weighing King Hieron's crown, or Eratosthenes measuring the circumference of the Earth, is because those discoveries were the exception to the rule.


[deleted] t1_j4laq59 wrote



SofaKingI t1_j4lh295 wrote

I feel like you're doing what the other comment is cautioning against.

Those are modern concepts and only vaguely similar. Our brains tend to jump to the closest thing we know and there's a lot of mysticism about ancient, forgotten knowledge, but Ancient Greeks had no idea about spacetime or dark energy or any of that.

Their fifth element (or aether) was just a substance a bit like air but with very different properties, that existed outside the Earth's sphere beyond the Moon. It was what gods breathed. They made it up to explain things they didn't understand. For example, they said air naturally moved in a straight line (wind), but aether moved only in circles and that's why planets had a circular orbit. It was what held the stars up in the sky.


massivebasketball t1_j4mt3wf wrote

>They made it up to explain things they didn’t understand.

So dark matter then


dalenacio t1_j4kag0f wrote

ITT: people repeating incorrect pop-history.

Copernicus was a well-regarded astronomer in his time, a minor clergy member (a canon), published his book with Church permission and dedicated it to the Pope.

Galileo is a bit more complex: he was originally left to do whatever he bloody well liked with his theories, until he started trying to perform his own theology, which the Church wasn't cool with. The Pope interceded on his behalf, told him to just stick to the science, and in response Galileo wrote him into his book as "Simplicio", literally calling him a dumbass in public. Something he actually did for several other of his powerful political allies.

So basically, act like an arrogant dickwad with zero political common sense in the cutthroat world of 17th century Italian politics, and you might just get placed under house arrest for the rest of your life.


artie_pdx t1_j4jzh47 wrote

Burn the witch!


ldspsygenius t1_j4k08e8 wrote

I hope they immediately excommunicated him for this.


artie_pdx t1_j4k0vi2 wrote

For real. “Misinformation” should be punished. There are some people who think cancel culture is something new.


harce t1_j4ltm89 wrote

Yeah, only the ones complaining about cancel culture tend to be in the same funclub as the ones who had a thing for burning at the stake the ones saying stuff they did not like.


[deleted] t1_j4lolg3 wrote



AirborneRodent t1_j4n7zq8 wrote

Aristarchus of Samos was not burned at the stake.

You're thinking of Giordano Bruno, who lived 1800 years after Aristarchus. Bruno was burned at the stake, not just because he believed the Earth orbited the Sun, but because he believed that the universe was infinite, with countless other gods, and that Jesus was a malicious con man who deceived humanity into thinking there was only one god.


AirborneRodent t1_j4n8s9t wrote

Reposting an old comment of mine about the Greeks and heliocentrism:

> They "figured it out" but couldn't prove it. The hypothesis had three main issues that weren't solved until scientific knowledge caught up with astronomy:

> 1) Parallax. If the Earth moves around the Sun, then the stars should appear to move back and forth every six months, the same way that a stationary object appears to move when you move your head side-to-side. In fact the stars do show this behavior, but because they're so far away, it's unnoticeable without a telescope. The ancient Greeks believed the stars to be relatively close to Earth, so the parallax should've been much more apparent. Accepting heliocentrism would've meant accepting that the universe was far larger than they thought - they weren't ready to accept that.

> 2) Inertia. The ancient Greeks did not believe that an object in motion will remain in motion. They believed in the concepts of natural motion and disturbed motion, which, among other ideas, posited that force was proportional to velocity. So if the Earth is moving, why do flying birds not slow down and get left behind?

> 3) How can the Earth move? Again, this comes down to the ancient idea of natural motion. In their system of natural philosophy, heavy objects naturally fall to the ground. A heavy object in motion slows down and stops. Earth is the heaviest thing there is - it is literally the element of heaviness. So how can it be in motion? What force is moving the Earth?

> For these reasons heliocentrism was abandoned for 1500 years. It wasn't sacrilegious or anything; it was just deemed to be an interesting hypothesis that didn't stand up to scrutiny.


yeahnahnahyeet t1_j4k4oga wrote

This cannot be true! I am the centre of the universe, burn him..


TheCloudFestival t1_j4ku5h9 wrote

Given the hyperdimensional fabric of the Universe, ALL things are at the centre of the Universe, and so, Hermes Conrad, you are technically correct, the best kind of correct!


John-Piece t1_j4l3vu2 wrote

I first learned this from the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook.


Van_GOOOOOUGH t1_j4k2jsz wrote

And he wasn't called a blasphemous heretic like Copernicus was?


Rethious t1_j4k9h10 wrote

Looking into it, Copernicus was called an idiot more than he was a blasphemer. He had noticed something that was correct, but it was hard for others to believe because it meant the entire field of astronomy up to that point had been wrong. The theological argument was secondary to the scientific criticism.

The criticism was in good faith, and debate over it led to further investigation and the Copernican Revolution.


CurseYourSudden t1_j4knwja wrote

Galileo (not Copernicus) claimed that he had proven something, but the peer review said it wasn't proof, just a strong argument. This peer review was under the auspices of the pope, so he publicly called the Pope an idiot in retaliation. Galileo also kind of started working on his own church to really drive home the "I do what I want" energy, while alienating basically everyone that had previously supported him (including Renaissance Italian politicians).

The Pope put him on house arrest and probably saved his life by doing so. Renaissance Italian politics was real big on assassinations.


Champioli t1_j4kvewz wrote

He wasn't the first to propose a Heliocentric model. Indian astronomers did that in the 8th and 9th Centuries BC.


HazelFrederick t1_j4kw3nj wrote

Yep for most of the western “firsts” in astronomy there’s some evidence of them learning it from, or discovering it after, Babylonians or Persians. They in turn often learned it from Indians or Chinese.


AirborneRodent t1_j4n9icy wrote

Do you have a source on that? Most of the information I'm seeing dates Indian heliocentrism to the 3rd or 4th Centuries CE.


Van_GOOOOOUGH t1_j4krj6u wrote

If the truths about the solar system that this guy discovered in the third century BC had been recorded & maintained and taught throughout the centuries, mankind would have been a lot further ahead in our understanding of our place in the universe.

But instead some religion decided to start teaching everyone that the Earth was the center of the universe and it took centuries for scientists & religions to straighten all that out again.


HazelFrederick t1_j4kwl0o wrote

The overwhelming opinion of pre Christian philosophers before and after Aristarchus was a geocentric universe, and Christian beliefs about the universe were directly borrowed from Plato and Aristotle.

The Church fucks up lots of things but they don’t get the lion’s share of the blame here.