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Lecture 4

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PHYS 183
Tracy Webb

th Lecture 4: January 14 , 2013  astronomy the first science  might have been biology due to medicine  stars were a lot brighter back then  scientific method: based on simple concepts of experiment, trial & error and evidence o we all intuitively apply scientific thinking in everyday life o science simple formalizes this method  astronomy as a science o ancient civilizations have always used astronomy  marking seasons, navigation o has roots in many ancient cultures  can measure circumference of the earth with shadow  did this before they knew the earth was round (240 BC) o Syene to Alexandria  distance = 5000 stadia, angle = 7 degrees o Earth’s circumference = 250 000 stadia = 42 000 km o metre was originally defined as a specific fraction of the earth’s surface  early astronomy o Greeks among first to make mathematical models of nature o attempted to explain patterns without use of supernatural intervention o similar theme with most models: earth at centre of the universe  Greek model of the universe o geocentric o heavens must be perfect (spheres) o driven by evidence & philosophy o evidence:  sun, stars & planets appear to move around earth  no perceptible movement of earth o philosophy  insisted on mathematical perfection (whole numbers, perfect spheres, music scales)  insistence eventually lead to stagnant models & refusal to change in face of new evidence o detrimental to science  made them hold onto models that didn’t work for a long time despite new evidence  Ptolemey’s model (150 A.D.) o complex motions of planets difficult to explain within geocentric model o retrograde motion: planets usually appear to move E to W but occasionally reverse direction (W to E)
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