Thursday, 9 July 2009

Early Cosmology

Early Cosmology:
Cosmology is the study of the Universe and its components, how it formed, how its has evolved and what
is its future. Modern cosmology grew from ideas before recorded history. Ancient man asked questions
such as "What's going on around me?" which then developed into "How does the Universe work?", the
key question that cosmology asks.
Many of the earliest recorded scientific observations were about cosmology, and pursue of understanding
has continued for over 5000 years. Cosmology has exploded in the last 10 years with radically new
information about the structure, origin and evolution of the Universe obtained through recent
technological advances in telescopes and space observatories and bascially has become a search for the
understanding of not only what makes up the Universe (the objects within it) but also its overall

Modern cosmology is on the borderland between science and philosophy, close to philosophy because it
asks fundamental questions about the Universe, close to science since it looks for answers in the form of
empirical understanding by observation and rational explanation. Thus, theories about cosmology operate
with a tension between a philosophical urge for simplicity and a wish to include all the Universe's features
versus the shire complexitied of it all.
Very early cosmology, from Neolithic times of 20,000 to 100,000 years ago, was extremely local. The
Universe was what you immediately interacted with. Things outside your daily experience appeared
supernatural, and so we call this time the Magic Cosmology.

Later in history, 5,000 to 20,000 years ago, humankind begins to organize themselves and develop what
we now call culture. A greater sense of permanence in your daily existences leads to the development of
myths, particularly creation myths to explain the origin of the Universe. We call this the Mythical

The third stage, what makes up the core of modern cosmology grew out of ancient Greek, later Christian,
views. The underlying theme here is the use of observation and experimentation to search for simple,
universal laws. We call this the Geometric Cosmology.

The earliest beginnings of science was to note that there exist patterns of cause and effect that are
manifestations of the Universe's rational order. We mostly develop this idea as small children (touch hot
stove = burn/pain). But the extrapolation of a rational order to cosmology requires a leap of faith in the
beginning years of science, later supported by observation and experimentation.

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