3. Do you believe in models? Simplicity and complexity
A Very Short Introduction
3. Copernicus’s vision
The Ptolemaic system, created by Claudius Ptolemy around 150 AD, for the first time in history introduced a comprehensive geometrical structure from which the positions of the planets (including the sun and moon) could be calculated for any time, past or future. It was a monumental achievement, which held sway for fourteen hundred years. Unfortunately, the Ptolemaic system has suffered from bad press, which has given the false impression that the system was unnecessarily complicated.
3. A mathematical science
The science of finding latitude
science . This is because its meaning and reference, as we understand them, became current only in the mid-19th century. William Whewell is credited with inventing the word scientist in 1833. The historian’s problem, then, is the discomfort of trying often to write the history of something that did not exist, at least nominally, for people at the time.
2. Planet Earth
A photograph from space of the night side of the Earth shows vividly the effects of urbanization. Brilliant illuminated patches stand out against a dark background, which once would have typified the entire globe. On the Earth, far from this anthropogenic light, the sky on a dark night is a cause for wonder; it probably fascinated our ancestors from time immemorial. Thousands of years ago Chinese astronomers defined the year and month from the repeated motions of the Sun and Moon, respectively. The stars form an apparently steady firmament, but from early times astronomers noted
6. Exploring the universe of stars
5. Competing with Ptolemy
Mathematike syntaxis , meant Mathematical compilation , but the Islamic astronomers called it Almagest —literally “the greatest”—and that was on the title page of the new publication. Copernicus knew the general outline of Ptolemy’s book because a Latin epitome of the work had been published in Venice in 1496. That was the work of Georg Puerbach and Johannes Regiomontanus, two of the outstanding astronomers of the fifteenth century. They had learned Greek for the purpose of translating the Almagest , though in the end what they produced was not a full edition but