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The Driving Role of Gravity in Cosmology



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Cleveland Museum of Natural History 9 December 2010 The Driving Role of Gravity in Cosmology Stacy McGaugh University of Maryland Ancient Cosmology A Flat Earth Here there be dragons World Map of Hecataeus of Miletus c 500 BC Nuit the goddess of the night was in a tight embrace with her husband Sib the earth god Then one day the god Sh grabed her and elevated her to become the sky despite the protests and painful squirming of Sib But Sh has no sympathy for him and freezes Sib even as he is thrashing about And so he remains to this day his twisted pose generating the irregularities we see on the Earth s surface Nuit is supported by her arms and legs which become the columns holding the sky Nuit the sky Ancient Egyptian Creation Myth UP Sh Sib the earth DOWN The ancient Egyptians conceived the sky as a roof placed over the world supported by columns placed at the four cardinal points The Earth was a flat rectangle longer from north to south whose surface bulges slightly and having the Nile as its center On the south there was a river in the sky supported by mountains and on this river the sun god made his daily trip this river was wide enough to allow the sun to vary its path as it is seen to do The stars were suspended from the heavens by strong cables but no apparent explanation was given for their movements UP DOWN Greek Map in 3D Incan Cosmology Chinese myth The world rests on the back of a great turtle And what does the turtle stand on Why it s turtles all the way down well maybe the earth is round and the center of creation Geocentric Cosmology Competing Cosmologies Geocentric Ptolemaic Earth at center 2007 Pearson Education Inc publishing as Pearson Addison Wesley Heliocentric Copernican Sun at center Geocentric Cosmology The most sophisticated geocentric model was that of Ptolemy A D 100 170 the Ptolemaic model Ptolemy 2007 Pearson Education Inc publishing as Pearson Addison Wesley Sufficiently accurate to remain in use for 1 500 years i e predicted correct



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