The Universe - So ... What Do You Think Now?

Humans have had varying ideas about the nature of the universe throughout history. Even today, with all of the advancements in science, there are still people who hold to ideas that are in direct contradiction to today's science. For example, there is a group of people known as The Flat Earth Society that holds to ideas like "Earth is flat and has five sides."

Scientists, throughout history have used real evidence to develop the current model of our universe and, more specifically, our solar system. Using the Internet, research ways that the following prominent astronomers and mathematicians have shaped our view of the universe. Answer the questions about each person and think about how each person used the scientific method.

Claudius Ptolemy

  1. Ptolemy based his description of the universe on the work of whom?
  2. Draw a diagram in which you illustrate the Ptolemaic, geocentric model of the universe.
  3. Imagine that you did not know anything about the universe. List three pieces of evidence can you see on a daily basis which would cause you to develop a geocentric model of the universe?

Nicolaus Copernicus

  1. Describe the sun in relation to the heliocentric system that Copernicus developed.
  2. Name three people whose work supported the heliocentric model.

Johannes Kepler

  1. How many laws of planetary motion did Johannes Kepler discover?
  2. Who is Tycho Brahe?
  3. Describe Kepler’s first law of Planetary Motion.

Galileo Galilei

  1. What scientific tool was Galileo one of the first to use (hint: is widely used in astronomy today)?
  2. Galileo used a refracting telescope. Today, many people use reflecting telescopes. Diagram how light goes travels through these two types of telescopes. Describe the difference in how each is used to make observations.
  3. When Galileo began teaching, what was the prominent theory regarding the organization of the universe?
  4. How did Galileo confirm the teachings of Nicolaus Copernicus?
  5. What did Galileo do to earn life imprisonment?
  6. Describe a time you have not listened to new ideas because you thought you already knew all here was to know about something. How does that relate to Galileo?
  7. What law did Isaac Newton formulate based on Galileo's information?

How Did They Come to their Findings?
While Galileo is known for pioneering the experimental scientific method, each of the men above used the scientific method in one way or another. Only when scientists use the scientific method are their findings credible. Describe how each of the men above used parts of the scientific method to develop their models.

Check your answers.