Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Strange Beginnings

Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher, and incidentally,The Father of Science, presented theories that were based on misunderstanding of the forces governing the physical world. This may seem odd, but he really believed that the brain was a blood-cooling device, that maggots spontaneously develop on meat, and that all things are varied combinations of air, water, fire and earth, and discounted Democritus for his "Atom Theory".

He also categorized things based on their "gravity" or "levity". Earthen materials, which sink in water and other liquids, had more gravity, and fire, which leaps up in the air, had more levity. To explain how stars and other celestial bodies float in the outerspace, he created the fifth element which he calls "ether".

It never occured to Aristotle, and to most ancient Greek intellectuals, to put these theories under testing. Experiment was unheard of, until a 17th century scientist by the name of Francis Bacon introduced the concept.

These profound errors were conceived because of logic and observation, which is the very foundation of science. So let's just leave Aristotle as he is right now, the reigning "Father of Science" or we might end up rewriting textbooks and launch debates as to who deserves to get the title.

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