Top 10 Ancient Science Mistakes
Regardless of how absurd these theories were, we need to take in consideration the fact that they helped with the evolution of science, and many other fields and domains. Let’s take a look at the top ten mistakes of ancient science.
Euclid is known for his theories in geometry, but what many might not know is the fact that he was also interested in optics and astronomy. He stated that vision occurs when rays emit from the eye to form a cone, and then he stated that everything that the cone touches is seen.
The main problem was that he did not take in consideration certain things such as light, distance, medium, and so on. It seemed that he simply used some geometry knowledge into this domain.
Ptolemy is famous for the fact that he issued a theory regarding the model of the universe. In fact, his theory was seen as the standard until Copernicus released his own theory. He was revered during the Middle Ages in Europe and Arabia, and his theories set the basis for the future of astronomy. What is impressive about him is the fact that he managed to replace Aristarchos’ heliocentric universe through his theory, which would become accepted as universal truth for no less than 1,000 years. He managed to prove that there was a clear disjunction between the real stars and the mathematical models of the stars.
During his days it was believed that the planets followed an epicycles in the solar system, instead of an ellipsis. He did not manage to prove otherwise, but he demonstrated that the conception of the people regarding the epicycles were wrong.
Galen is considered by many to be the greatest physician after Hippocrates. He was a court physician for three Roman emperors and he wrote numerous documents in that domain. He wrote lots of things on medicine, physiology, and anatomy. He had his faults though, as he was more interested in finding the origins of the disease than to find a cure for them. It is said that he did not care about his patients and about the fact that they were suffering. He simply saw them as some objects, or as some specimens. The human dissection was not allowed in Rome, so in order to obtain information on anatomy, he used to dissect monkeys and pigs. He made some important discoveries thanks to it, such as the fact that arteries contain blood. It was very difficult for the skeptics to contest him because he created all of his theories based on his researches.
He was wrong in some cases though, as he was one of the initiators of bloodletting, which was a very popular medical practice in the Eastern Mediterranean. He believed that excess blood was the source of many problems, and that people would be better in case they would get rid of some of that excess blood. The modern medicine proved that bloodletting is actually bad, with the exception of certain situations. His concept was popular up until the 19th century, when it was finally discovered that bloodletting was actually bad for the patient.
Herophilos was born 500 years before Galen, in Asia Minor. He founded a school in Alexandria, Egypt, and he broke some of the rules imposed by the Ptolemaic dynasty, as he and his students often recovered cadavers in order to dissect them. That was considered immoral and illegal in numerous cultures, and they were some of the first people to engage in this sort of activity. It is believed that they might have dissected prisoners while they were alive as well.
Regardless of the way in which he conducted the dissections, he was very important for the medicine world, as he created some terms which are still used nowadays. One of his most famous students was Erasistratos, who stated that “pneuma” ran through the nerves and arteries. They believed that pneuma was some sort of force without which a person would not be able to survive. They also believed that the pneuma was responsible for the movements of a person. Of course these theories sound very absurd now, but back then they were considered to be very plausible.
Empedocles was one of the most important philosophers before Socrates. He was the first philosopher who stated that there were four major elements in the world: water, fire, earth, and air. He stated that all the materials from the world are made from a combination of these elements, which of course nowadays, sounds totally absurd. He stated that wood is made out of fire and earth, and that when the wood is burned, the fire is eliminated from the composition, and what remains is earth, or the ashes. His theories however have influenced the world of physical science very much.
He is mostly known for the fact that he was arguing against the theories released by Heraclitos and Parmenides. Heraclitus stated that the reality was often changing, and in order for change to exist, the materials had to go in and out of existence. Parmenides on the other hand said that change did not exist, and that everything we perceive as change is actually is an illusion. According to him, time did not exist. Empedocles wanted to prove that the four main elements can not be created or destroyed. He said that change is a result of things being mixed together or separated, which is somewhat similar to the laws of thermodynamics. He also stated that things are made out of indivisible elements, which of course has been proven.