22 feb. 2012

Changing the geometry of the world

Only some human beings have changed the geometry of their known world.
On October 12, the World remembers Columbus’ discovering of American continent. I am referring not to the country but to the complete continent named America some years later its discovery (the American continent from Argentina in the South to Canada in the North).

Around 1492, the year of Columbus’ discovery, common people believed that Earth was flat. Maybe following the Tales de Mileto’s old idea, they imagined the Earth as a flat disc floating above the water. Or maybe as Anaximandro’s idea, they visualized the Earth as the top part of a cylinder covered by terrain and water. Nevertheless, the monks in the abbeys and Jews of Spain certainly knew the Greek books and thoughts. They knew about Eratosthenes’ ideas of a spherical Earth.

Well, Colombus did not know about his discovery of a new continent. He always believed to have arrived to India. Years later, the German geographer Martin Waldseemüller did a map of the world close to the real one and it was the Navigant Americo Vespucio who firstly recognized the existence of a new continent. Fernando de Magallanes began the first voyage around the world. All of them contributed to change the geometry of a flat world to a spherical one. Or in other words, they showed that old medieval belief was a mistake.

However, the Earth is not a sphere.

It was Isaac Newton who demonstrated that the Earth was a spheroid flattened by the poles. In other words, Earth is more similar to an orange than an sphere. This man was crazy about fruits!

Other people changed the geometry of their worlds as well.
In 1543, Copernicus would move out the Earth from its privileged place as the center of the universe and would put the Sun in it.
In 1609, Keppler showed that the planets’ orbits are not circles as Ptolemy had said in the II century but ellipses. However, in his ambition to find platonic solids in the planetary orbits, he would discover a new polyhedron: the stella octangula.

At the beginning of XVIII Century, new discoveries of planets and satellites would extend the dimensions of the universe, a sphere of a material perfect called ether, as it was thought to be in that time
In 1905, Albert Einstein proposed the theory of the relativity. In this theory, the human being would not only live in a universe of three space dimensions but in a four-dimensional universe being the fourth, the time.
When everything seemed to have been said, George Gamow intends proposed that the beginning of our entire universe was a great explosion starting from a point of matter of infinite density! Today this theory is known as the theory of the big-bang.
Could the geometry of the world change more till this stage?

Well, actually yes. Mandelbrot in the 80s demonstrated that the simplest objects in the nature like clouds and trees are belong not to a space three-dimension world but to a dimension that would not be an entire number!

Can our world geometry change more?
Who is the next one?

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