Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Out of this Roman world

The recent release of the almost blockbuster 'John Carter' provides an interesting taste of the early 20th-century's ideas of living 'off' world. For us, one hundred years later, it seems hard to believe that someone living before World War One could accommodate the idea of existing beyond earth. But the idea is much older than we might think. Pliny is able to define the planets as 'worlds' rather than stars or suns, and contemplates their spherical surfaces as being hot or cold. He doesn't necessarily agree with Leucippus' theory (from the 5th-century BC) that countless other worlds existed around countless other suns...but he does, at least mention it - and then he states, 'Men are not concerned to explore the extraterrestial', in that he understood in the 1st-century AD there was no capacity to do so. Just goes to say that our understanding of the universe goes back a lot further than we 'moderns' would like to admit. For more history of 1st-century Rome - check out 'A Body of Doubt' - live on Amazon now and on YouTube