Physics Timeline 500 BC – 1 AD

Dates Characters Theories and discoveries
585 BC Thales of Miletus Prediction of an eclipse
580 BC Thales of Miletus Water as the basic element
580 BC Thales of Miletus Magnets and attraction to rubbed amber
560 BC Thales of Miletus First cosmologies
550 BC Anaximenes Flat Earth
525 BC Pythagoras Understanding the world and mathematics
520 BC Anaximander Earth surface is curved (cylinder)
515 BC Parmenides Paradoxes of change and motion
500 BC Pythagoreans Earth is a sphere
480 BC Oenopides Finds angle of Earth’s tilt to ecliptic
480 BC Protagoras Reality comes from the senses
480 BC Heraclitus Fire as primary substance
480 BC Heraclitus Change is the essence of being
475 BC Parmenides Earth is a sphere
470 BC Anaxagoras Materials are made of “seeds” (atoms)
470 BC Anaxagoras Sun, moon and stars are made of same material as Earth
470 BC Anaxagoras Sun as a hot glowing rock
460 BC Eudoxus Celestial spheres
460 BC Empedocles Four elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water
455 BC Philolaus Earth Rotates
450 BC Zeno Paradoxes of discrete or continuous space and time
445 BC Leucippus Indivisble atoms
425 BC Democritus Atomic theory
390 BC Plato Theory of knowledge
390 BC Plato Ether as a fifth element
385 BC Democritus Milky Way is composed of many stars
370 BC Aristotle Free falling bodies accelerate but heavier bodies fall faster
360 BC Heracleides Venus and Mercury orbit the sun
352 BC Chinese Recorded observation of a supernova
350 BC Heracleides Rotation of the Earth
340 BC Aristotle Earth is a sphere
340 BC Aristotle Space is continuous and always filled with matter
335 BC Kiddinu Precession of equinoxes
335 BC Strato Experiments with falling bodies and levers
330 BC Aristotle Physics and metaphysics
330 BC Aristotle Geocentric cosmology
325 BC Pytheas Tides are caused by moon
306 BC Epicurus Support for atomic theory
295 BC Euclid Elements of mathematics
265 BC Zou Yan Five elements: water, metal, wood, fire and earth
260 BC Aristarchus of Samos Ratio of Earth-Sun distance to Earth-Moon distance from angle at half moon
260 BC Aristarchus of Samos Distance and size of moon from Earth’s shadow during lunar eclipse
260 BC Aristarchus of Samos Heliocentric cosmology
250 BC Chinese Free bodies move at constant velocity
240 BC Archimedes Principle of levers and compound pulley
240 BC Archimedes Archimedes’ principle of hydrostatics
235 BC Eratosthenes Measurement of Earth’s circumference
190 BC Seleucus Further support for heliocentric theory
170 BC Chinese Record of sun spots
150 BC Hipparchus Precession of the equinoxes
130 BC Hipparchus Size of moon from parallax of eclipse

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