Who Discovered That The Earth Is Round?


To say that the Earth is round may sound like saying that the sky is as blue as it seems to us in the modern age, but before the advent of airplanes and space travel, there were no photographs to show us that. The planet is actually the world. So how did people figure it out in 500 BC?

Other Pythagoras Theorem

Most of the praise for determining that the Earth is round goes to Pythagoras, who is known for that famous theorem that you definitely had to learn back in school. He formulated the first recorded theory that the Earth is round, based on his observations of all other round celestial objects that can be seen with the human eye. Later, Aristotle followed the notion that during a lunar eclipse, a circular shadow falls on the Moon. He also cited the curious shifting of stars when a person traveled far north or south, in which some constellations would change or disappear altogether.

Eratosthenes of Siren

But these were all just observations, with no real math or testable science to back them up. Enter Eratosthenes of Cyrene, a Greek mathematician, astronomer and chief librarian at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt. One day, he heard that a well in the city of Sayan (present-day Aswan) cast no shadow on the summer solstice, as it was lit directly overhead by the sun. On the next summer solstice, he decided to measure the shadow cast by a stick, when the Sun was located exactly in the center of the sky, which he determined was seven degrees.

Round Earth

In a moment of great inspiration, Eratosthenes realized that he could calculate the circumference of the Earth based on his knowledge of the distance between cities and a seven-degree turn, so he asked a surveyor to calculate the literal steps between them. sent for Eratosthenes worked out that the Earth was around 24,000 miles, which is staggeringly close to the true circumference of 24,900 miles, given how early his experiment was.

Since then, apart from some disagreement with some European religious orders, most people have agreed that the world is round. Christopher Columbus also knew this, despite the widespread myth. In fact, the whole reason it was funded by the Spanish nobles was to find a new route to the East because they knew the world was a globe that could be sailed around.

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