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History of Cosmology
Cosmology Timeline: Ancient Greek, Vedic & Islamic to Big Bang Theory

Pythagoras, Aristotle, Ptolemy, Nicolaus de Cusa, Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Giordano Bruno, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton

Definition of Cosmology

From its Greek etymology cosmology (kósmos world; lógos, knowledge or science) means the science of the world.

Cosmology is the natural complement of the special sciences. It begins where they leave off, and its domain is quite distinct from theirs. The scientist determines the immediate cause of the phenomena observed in the mineral or the organic world: he formulates their laws and builds these into a synthesis with the help of certain general theories, such as those of light, of heat, and of electricity. The cosmologist, on the other hand, seeks the ultimate causes, not off this or that class of beings or of phenomena, but of the whole material universe. He inquires into the constituent nature of corporeal beings, their destiny, and their first cause.


History of Cosmology Timeline

Many different ancient cultures developed mythology based upon the cosmos.

Scientific cosmology - understanding the universe without recourse to divine beings is said to begin with the Ancient Greeks.

500 BC - 300 BC Pythagoras believed the earth was in motion and had knowledge of the periodic numerical relations of the planets, moon, and sun. The celestial spheres of the planets were thought to produce a harmony called the music of the spheres.
Aristotle taught that rotating spheres carried the Moon, Sun, planets, and stars around a stationary Earth. The Earth was unique because of its central position and its material composition.
Greek philosophers estimated the distance to the Moon, and tried to calculate the size of the finite universe.

300 BC - 210 BC - Aristarchus of Samos. Greek astronomer and mathematician. He is considered the first person to propose a scientific heliocentric model of the solar system, placing the Sun, not the Earth, at the center of the known universe. He correctly deduced the other planets in correct order from the Sun.

200 AD - The Ptolemaic system. Ptolemy proposes an Earth centered Universe, with the Sun and planets revolving around the Earth. Perfect motion should be in circles, so the stars and planets, being heavenly objects, moved in circles. However, to account for the complicated motion of the planets, which appear to periodically loop back upon themselves, epicycles had to be introduced so that the planets moved in circles upon circles about the fixed Earth.

1401 - 1464 Nicholas de Cusa suggests that the Earth is a nearly spherical shape that revolves around the Sun, and that each star is itself a distant sun.

1500 onwards - Several astronomers propose a Sun-centered Universe, including Aryabhata, Bhaskara I (Indian mathematician astronomers) Ibn al-Shatir (Arab Islamic astronomer) and Copernicus (European).
Nastier al-din altissimo (Arabian astronomer) created a particularly innovative addition to Ptolemy's circular motions. The "Tustin couple" calculates a linear motion from a combination of uniform circular motions. In his revolutionary work on the solar system published in 1543, Copernicus used a very similar device. Copernicus cited the works of Islamic astronomers and certainly learned from them. Historians are still trying to determine the full extent of his intellectual debt.

1576 - Thomas Digges modifies the Copernican system - proposing a multitude of stars extending to infinity.

1584 - Giordano Bruno proposes a non-hierarchical cosmology, wherein the Copernican solar system is not the Centrex of the universe, but rather, a relatively insignificant star system, amongst an infinite multitude of others (God had no particular relation to one part of the infinite universe more than any other). A universe which, like that of Plotinus in the third century A.D., or Blaise Pascal's nearly a century after Bruno, had its center everywhere and its circumference nowhere.

1600 - Tycho Brahe realised that if the Earth was moving about the Sun, then the relative positions of the stars should change as viewed from different parts of the Earth's orbit. But there was no evidence of this shift, called parallax. Either the Earth was fixed, or else the stars would have to be fantastically far away.
Tycho himself was not a Copernican, but proposed a system in which the planets other than Earth orbited the Sun while the Sun orbited the Earth.

1609 - Johannes Kepler uses the dark night sky to argue for a finite universe. Kepler discovered the key to building a heliocentric model. The planets moved in ellipses, not perfect circles, about the Sun - known as the Laws of planetary motion.

Newton later showed that elliptical motion could be explained by his inverse-square law for the gravitational force.

1609 - Galileo Galilei observes moons of Jupiter in support of the heliocentric model. (Heliocentrism is the theory that the Sun is at the center of the Universe and/or the Solar System. The word is derived from the Greek (Helios = "Sun" and kentron = "Center")).

1687 - Newton: Laws of motion, law of universal gravitation, basis for classical physics

1720 - Edmund Halley puts forth an early form of Olbers' paradox

1744 - Jean-Philippe de Cheseaux puts forth an early form of Olbers' paradox

1791 - Erasmus Darwin pens the first description of a cyclical expanding and contracting universe.

1826 - Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers puts forth Olbers' paradox

1848 - Edgar Allan Poe offers a solution to Olbers' paradox in an essay that also suggests the expansion and collapse of the universe.

1900 - The astronomer and mathematician Bessel finally measured the distance to the stars by parallax. The nearest star (other than the Sun) turned out to be about 25 million, million miles away! (By contrast the Sun is a mere 93 million miles away from the Earth.)

1905 - Albert Einstein publishes the Special Theory of Relativity, positing that space and time are not separate continuums.

1915 - Albert Einstein publishes the General Theory of Relativity which requires a finite spherical universe (it cannot be infinite because of Mach's Principle, with which Einstein strongly agreed, that the mass of a body is finite, is determined by all other matter in the universe, thus all other matter in universe must be finite). What then surrounds this finite spherical universe? Einstein used his spherical ellipsoidal geometry of General Relativity to propose curved space. What stops finite spherical universe gravitationally collapsing? Einstein proposed his Cosmological / Antigravity Constant.

1922 - The Russian mathematician and meteorologist Friedmann realised that Einstein equations could describe an expanding universe. Einstein was reluctant - believing in a static (non-expanding universe).

1929 - The American astronomer Hubble established that some nebulae (fuzzy patches of light on the night sky) were indeed distant galaxies comparable in size to our own Milky Way.
Hubble discovers the red shift with distance. If Doppler shift caused this redshift then it meant stars / galaxies were moving apart. This is interpretated as evidence that the universe is expanding. Einstein, swayed by this argument, changed his mind - thus his comment 'My biggest blunder' referring to the Cosmological Constant.

1950 - The British astronomer Fred Hoyle dismissively coins the phrase "Big Bang'', and the name stuck. i.e. the Universe had been born at one moment, about ten thousand million years ago in the past and the galaxies were still travelling away from us after that initial burst. All the matter, indeed the Universe itself, was created at just one instant.

1965 - Penzias and Wilson discovered a cosmic microwave background radiation. This was interpreted as the faint afterglow of the intense radiation of a Hot Big Bang, which had been predicted by Alpher and Hermann back in 1949.

Since the 1970's almost all cosmologists have come to accept the Hot Big Bang model.

1986 - Dr Milo Wolff discovers the Wave Structure of Matter.

1997 - Geoff Haselhurst independently discovers the Wave Structure of Matter. Describing an infinite eternal space full of matter, but matter only interacts with other matter in a finite spherical region of space (our finite spherical 'observable' universe within infinite space). It is the Out Waves from this other matter in our observable universe that forms into our In Waves (Huygens Principle) which then explains Mach's Principle and the redshift with distance.

Brief Summaries of Famous Astronomers

Pythagoras (582 BC – 496 BC)

In astronomy, the Pythagoreans were well aware of the periodic numerical relations of the planets, moon, and sun. The celestial spheres of the planets were thought to produce a harmony called the music of the spheres. These ideas, as well as the ideas of the perfect solids, would later be used by Johannes Kepler in his attempt to formulate a model of the solar system in his work The Harmony of the Worlds. Pythagoreans also believed that the earth itself was in motion.

Claudius Ptolemaeus (85 – c. 165)

Claudius Ptolemaeus, known in English as Ptolemy, was a Greek geographer, astronomer, and astrologer who probably lived and worked in Alexandria in Egypt.

Ptolemy was the author of the astronomical treatise known as the Almagest ("The Great Treatise") some time around the 2nd century, C.E. It was preserved, like most of Classical Greek science, in Arabic manuscripts and only made available in Latin translation in the 12th century.

In this work, one of the most influential books of Antiquity, Ptolemy compiled the astronomical knowledge of the ancient Greek and Babylonian world; he relied mainly on the work of Hipparchus of three centuries earlier. Ptolemy formulated a geocentric model of the solar system (explaining the motions of the heavens in which the earth was the center of the universe and all other celestial bodies rotated around it) which remained the generally accepted model in the Western and Arab worlds until it was overthrown by the Copernican revolution after Galileo Galilei and Copernicus discovered that the planets orbited the sun (heliocentricism).

Nicholas of Cusa (1401 - 1464)

Nicholas is also considered by many to be a man ahead of his time in the field of science. Though he predated Copernicus by half a century, Nicholas suggested in some of his scientific writings that the Earth was a nearly spherical shape that revolved around the Sun, and that each star is itself a distant sun. He was not, however, describing a scientifically verifiable theory of the universe: his beliefs (which proved uncannily accurate) were based almost entirely on his own personal speculations and numerological calculations. He made contributions to the field of mathematics by developing the concepts of the infinitesimal and of relative motion. Cusa was the first to use concave lenses to correct myopia.

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 – 1543)

Nicolaus Copernicus was a Polish astronomer, mathematician and economist who developed the heliocentric (Sun-centered) theory of the solar system in a form detailed enough to make it scientifically useful.

His theory about the Sun as the center of the solar system is considered one of the most important discoveries ever, and is the fundamental starting point of modern astronomy and modern science itself, (it inaugurated the scientific revolution). His theory affected many other aspects of human life as well, opening the door to young astronomers everywhere to challenge the facts and never take anything at face value.

Tycho Brahe (1546 – 1601)

Tycho Brahe was a Danish nobleman, well known as an astronomer, astrologer and alchemist.

Tycho was the preeminent observational astronomer of the pre-telescopic period, and his observations of stellar and planetary positions achieved unparalleled accuracy for their time. For example Brahe measured Earth's axial tilt as 23 degrees and 31.5 minutes, which he claimed to be more accurate than Copernicus by 3.5 minutes. After his death, his records of the motion of the planet Mars enabled Kepler to discover the laws of planetary motion, which provided powerful support for the Copernican heliocentric theory of the solar system.

Tycho himself was not a Copernican, but proposed a system in which the planets other than Earth orbited the Sun while the Sun orbited the Earth. His system provided a safe position for astronomers who were dissatisfied with older models but were reluctant to accept the Earth's motion. It gained a considerable following after 1616 when Rome decided officially that the heliocentric model was contrary to both philosophy and Scripture, and could be discussed only as a computational convenience that had no connection to fact.

Giordano Bruno (1548 – 1600)

Giordano Bruno was an Italian philosopher, astronomer, and occultist executed as a heretic, popularly regarded as a martyr to the cause of freedom of thought because his ideas went against church doctrine.

In the second half of the 16th century, the theories of Copernicus began diffusing through Europe. Although Bruno did not wholly embrace Copernicus's preference for mathematics over speculation, he advocated the Copernican view that the earth was not the center of the universe, and extrapolated some consequences which may seem like common sense in the 21st century, but which were radical departures from the cosmology of the time.

Bruno went beyond the heliocentric model to envision a universe which, like that of Plotinus in the third century A.D., or like Blaise Pascal's nearly a century after Bruno, had its center everywhere and its circumference nowhere.
Bruno believed, as is now universally accepted, that the Earth revolves and that the apparent diurnal rotation of the heavens is an illusion caused by the rotation of the Earth around its axis. He also saw no reason to believe that the stellar region was finite, or that all stars were equidistant from a single center of the universe. In these respects, his views were similar to those of Thomas Digges (1576).

In 1584, Bruno published two important philosophical dialogues, in which he argued against the planetary spheres.
Bruno's infinite universe was filled with a substance - a pure air, aether, or spiritus - that offered no resistance to the heavenly bodies which, in Bruno's view, rather than being fixed, moved under their own impetus. Most dramatically, he completely abandoned the idea of a hierarchical universe. The Earth was just one more heavenly body, as was the Sun. God had no particular relation to one part of the infinite universe more than any other. God, according to Bruno, was precisely as present on Earth as in the Heavens, an immanent God rather than a remote heavenly deity.
Bruno also affirmed that the universe was homogeneous, made up everywhere of the four elements (water, earth, fire, and air), rather than having the stars be composed of a separate quintessence. Essentially, the same physical laws would operate everywhere, although the use of that term is anachronistic. Space and time were both conceived as infinite. There was no room in his stable and permanent universe for the Christian notions of divine Creation and Last Judgement.

Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642)

Galileo Galilei was a Tuscan astronomer, philosopher, and physicist who is closely associated with the scientific revolution. His achievements include improving the telescope, a variety of astronomical observations, the first law of motion, and supporting Copernicanism effectively.

On January 7, 1610 Galileo discovered three of Jupiter's four largest moons: Io, Europa, and Callisto. Ganymede he discovered four nights later. He determined that these moons were orbiting the planet since they would occasionally disappear; something he attributed to their movement behind Jupiter. He made additional observations of them in 1620. Later astronomers overruled Galileo's naming of these objects, changing his Medicean stars to Galilean satellites. The demonstration that a planet had smaller planets orbiting it was problematic for the orderly, comprehensive picture of the geocentric model of the universe, in which everything circled around the Earth.

Galileo noted that Venus exhibited a full set of phases like the Moon. The heliocentric model of the solar system developed by Copernicus predicted that all phases would be visible since the orbit of Venus around the Sun would cause its illuminated hemisphere to face the Earth when it was on the opposite side of the Sun and to face away from the Earth when it was on the Earth-side of the Sun. By contrast, the geocentric model of Ptolemy predicted that only crescent and new phases would be seen, since Venus was thought to remain between the Sun and Earth during its orbit around the Earth. Galileo's observation of the phases of Venus proved that Venus orbited the Sun and lent support to (but did not prove) the heliocentric model.

Johannes Kepler (1571 – 1630)

Johannes Kepler, a key figure in the scientific revolution, was a German astronomer, mathematician and astrologer. He is best known for his laws of planetary motion.

Like previous astronomers, Kepler initially believed that celestial objects moved in perfect circles. These models were consistent with observations and with the Platonic idea that the sphere was the perfect shape. However, after spending twenty years doing calculations with data collected by Tycho Brahe, Kepler concluded that the circular model of planetary motion was inconsistent with that data. Using Tycho's data, Kepler was able to formulate three laws of planetary motion, now known as Kepler's laws, in which planets move in ellipses, not circles. Using that knowledge, he was the first astronomer to successfully predict a transit of Venus (for the year 1631).

Kepler discovered the laws of planetary motion while trying to achieve the Pythagorean purpose of finding the harmony of the celestial spheres. In his cosmologic vision, it was not a coincidence that the number of perfect polyhedra was one less than the number of known planets. Having embraced the Copernican system, he set out to prove that the distances from the planets to the sun were given by spheres inside perfect polyhedra, all of which were nested inside each other. The smallest orbit, that of Mercury, was the innermost sphere. He thereby identified the five Platonic solids with the five intervals between the six known planets — Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn; and the five classical elements.

Help Humanity

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
(Mohandas Gandhi)

Albert Einstein"When forced to summarize the general theory of relativity in one sentence: Time and space and gravitation have no separate existence from matter. ... Physical objects are not in space, but these objects are spatially extended. In this way the concept 'empty space' loses its meaning. ... The particle can only appear as a limited region in space in which the field strength or the energy density are particularly high. ...
The free, unhampered exchange of ideas and scientific conclusions is necessary for the sound development of science, as it is in all spheres of cultural life. ... We must not conceal from ourselves that no improvement in the present depressing situation is possible without a severe struggle; for the handful of those who are really determined to do something is minute in comparison with the mass of the lukewarm and the misguided. ...
Humanity is going to need a substantially new way of thinking if it is to survive!" (Albert Einstein)

Biography: Geoffrey Haselhurst, Philosopher of Science, Theoretical Physics, Metaphysics, Evolution. Our world is in great trouble due to human behaviour founded on myths and customs that are causing the destruction of Nature and climate change. We can now deduce the most simple science theory of reality - the wave structure of matter in space. By understanding how we and everything around us are interconnected in Space we can then deduce solutions to the fundamental problems of human knowledge in physics, philosophy, metaphysics, theology, education, health, evolution and ecology, politics and society.

This is the profound new way of thinking that Einstein realised, that we exist as spatially extended structures of the universe - the discrete and separate body an illusion. This simply confirms the intuitions of the ancient philosophers and mystics.

Given the current censorship in physics / philosophy of science journals (based on the standard model of particle physics / big bang cosmology) the internet is the best hope for getting new knowledge known to the world. But that depends on you, the people who care about science and society, realise the importance of truth and reality.

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Just click on the Social Network links below, or copy a nice image or quote you like and share it. We have a wonderful collection of knowledge from the greatest minds in human history, so people will appreciate your contributions. In doing this you will help a new generation of scientists see that there is a simple sensible explanation of physical reality - the source of truth and wisdom, the only cure for the madness of man! Thanks! Geoff Haselhurst (Updated September, 2018)

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. (Max Planck, 1920)

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