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Greek cosmology

The first ``cosmologies'' were based on creation myths in which one or more deities made the universe out of sheer will, or out of their bodily fluids, or of the carcass of some god they defeated, etc. A few examples of such ``theories'' of the universe are provided in this chapter. These are hardly scientific theories in the sense that they have almost no support form observation and in that they predict very few things outside of the fact that there is a world (if everything is due to the whims of the Gods then there is very little one can predict). It is an interesting comment on the workings of the human mind that quite different cultures produced similar creation myths.

The first scientific cosmology was created by the Greeks more than 2000 years ago, and this chapter also describes these ideas and their origin. The Greeks used some of the knowledge accumulated by earlier civilizations, thus this chapter begins with a brief description of the achievements of the Egyptians and Babylonians. We then consider the highlights of Greek cosmology culminating with Ptolemy's system of the world.



 
next up previous contents
Next: Egypt and Babylon Up: From Antiquity to Einstein Previous: Monies (in 1994 US
Jose Wudka
9/24/1998