Back to the Greek Universe
Back to the Greek Universe
Back to the Greek Universe is a web application that allows users to explore the ancient Greek model of the universe in virtual reality so that they can realize what detailed knowledge the Greeks had of the movement of the celestial bodies observable from the Earth's surface. The model is based on Claudius Ptolemy's work, which is characterized by the fact that it adopts a geo-centric view of the universe. The movements of the celestial bodies as they appear to Earthlings are expressed as a series of superposed circular movements, characterized by varying radius and speed. The tabular values that serve as inputs to the model have been extracted from the literature.
The ancient greeks believed in a geocentric system of the universe. The earth at the center, the planets going round in perfect circles: This is an enormous simplification. Ancient Greek astronomy invented a complex model which is astonishingly close to what we know today.
Claudius Ptolemy (~100-160 AD) was a Greek scientist working at the library of alexandria. One of his most important works, the «Almagest», sums up the geographic, mathematical and astronomical knowledge of the time. It is the first outline of a coherent system of the universe in the history of mankind.
Back to the Greek Universe is a VR model that rebuilds Ptolemy’s system of the universe on a scale of 1/1 billion. The planets are 100 times larger, the Earth rotates 100 times more slowly. The planet orbits periods are 1 million faster than they would be according to Ptolemy’s calculations.
Back to the Greek Universe was coded and presented at the Swiss Open Cultural Data Hackathon/mix'n'hack 2019 in Sion, Switzerland, from Sept 6-8, 2019, by Thomas Weibel, Cédric Sievi, Pia Viviani and Beat Estermann.
- Simon Grynaeus: Kl. Ptolemaiou Megalēs syntaxeōs bibl. 13, public domain
- Peter Liechtenstein: Almagestum CL. Ptolemei Pheludiensis Alexandrini astronomorum principis opus ingens ac nobile omnes celoru motus continens, public domain
- Richard Fitzpatrick: A Modern Almagest, An Updated Version of Ptolemy’s Model of the Solar System
- John Cramer: The Ptolemaic System, A Detailed Synopsis
- Earth map, video, public domain
- Moon map, image, public domain
- Mercury map, image, public domain
- Venus map, image, public domain
- Sun map, image, public domain
- Mars map, image, public domain
- Jupiter map, image, public domain
- Saturn map, image, public domain
- Stars map, image, Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
- Back to the Greek Universe Video (mp4), public domain
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