One mistake he made was to toss an orange up in the air and watch it come straight back down to his hand. Aristotle reasoned that if he was moving, the orange would have flown off to one side as soon as it left his hand. Because the orange did not do so, Aristotle concluded he was not moving. On the basis of this one observed fact, and the assumption that there was no other explanation for what he observed, Aristotle concluded that the Earth does not move and that therefore the rest of the universe had to move around it.
Aristotle was a very sharp guy, but the fact is that there was another explanation for why the orange fell back into his hand, and it would wait about another 2000 years before another smart man, Sir Isaac Newton, explained just what it was Aristotle had overlooked, set forth in Newton's laws of motion.
But for the early church, Aristotle's conclusions fit in rather well with their theology, which had the Earth created as the center of the universe, unmoving, with the rest of the cosmos spinning about it.
Of course, there was empirical evidence available to all that cast doubt on the church-approved version of the Cosmos. One could see during eclipses that the Earth was not flat. The curved shape of the Earth's shadow as it crossed the moon was the same no matter place in the sky the eclipse took place. A spherical Earth was the only shape that could produce such a result. Ships sailing over the horizon clearly vanished over a subtle curve ( an observation which eventually inspired Columbus' voyages). Nobody could explain the behavior of a Foucault's Pendulum other than by the Earth spinning beneath it.
But by far the most troubling problem for the geocentric (earth centered) universe was the strange behavior of the planets. In an age before TV, or even books, the night sky was something every person was quite familiar with, even those who were not sailors or fortune tellers. Watching the night sky over time, the paths of the planets were easily seen to occasionally pause, move in reverse for a time, then proceed foreword. This behavior was called retrograde motion. Ah, but this was a problem. The church did not have an explanation for this behavior. Indeed in the King James Version of the Bible, the word "planet" appears only once, and the only as an object to be sacrificed to.
There is a very simple explanation for retrograde motion. As the Earth, moving in its inner orbit, overtake an outer planet, it will appear to hesitate, reverse its path across the sky, then resume its normal path. But the idea that the Earth moved was contrary to Church Dogma and to Aristotle. What education was tolerated by the church was "encouraged" to find some way to explain retrograde motion in a way that did not conflict with the religious needs for a universe centered on an unmoving Earth. Rather than re-examine Aristotle's basic claim, the learned men of the day grabbed onto a suggestion made by Claudius Ptolemy called "epicycles". This theory explained retrograde motion around a motionless Earth by suggesting that the planets moved in large orbits called deferents, upon which were superimposed smaller orbits called epicycles which produced a "wobble" as seen from Earth.
Epicycles was extremely popular with the church, and scholars at universities with religious affiliations were "encouraged" to refine this theory. And it needed refinement, badly, because the epicycle theory did not accurately predict what was being seen in the sky. Generations of effort was expended trying to figure out why the models did not predict the actual motions of the planets. At one point, it was even suggested that the epicycles had epicycles. No matter how many times the observed results did not match the predictions, the approved course of action was to refine the theory, but never to question the basic assumption. Those who dared point to the evidence suggesting that Aristotle (and by extension the church) were in error in postulating a geocentric universe were "discouraged". Galileo was tortured into recanting his conclusions that the Earth moved. Giordano Bruno was burned alive at the stake for suggesting that the sun was really just another star, only close up, and that the other stars had their own planets.
In recent times, our expanding technology has confirmed that Galileo and Bruno were right, and Aristotle and the church were flat out wrong. The Earth does move. There are no deferents or epicycles, or even epicycles on the epicycles. he models of the universe which are based on a moving Earth are quite accurate and able to predict the behaviors of the planets as evidence by the fact that we send spacecraft to those planets on a regular basis.
The theory of a geocentric universe and the theory of epicycles was not science. It was religious doctrine masked as science.
The church has never really dealt with the reality of the universe very well. They only apologized for their treatment of Galileo recently and still refuse to discuss Bruno. and the Bible, presumed to be the perfect word of a perfect God, still teaches that the Earth is flat, rests on pillars (Job 26:11), and does not move (Psalms 19:5-6 93:1 96:10 104:5).
It seems that some mistakes are destined to be repeated again, despite
our technological prowess.
In 1929, a Cal-Tech astronomer named Edwin Hubble observed that objects which appeared to be much further away showed a more pronounced shift towards the red end of the spectrum. Scientists building on Hubble's discovery concluded that the farther an object was away from Earth, the faster it was receding, and calculated the relationship between distance and velocity, called the "Hubble Constant" and concluded on the basis of this one observed fact and the assumption that there was no other explanation for that observed fact that the universe was expanding.
Religious circles embraced the idea of an expanding universe because for the universe to be expanding, then at some point in the past it had to originate from a single point, called the "Big Bang". The "Big Bang" coincided nicely with religious doctrine and just as had been the case with epicycles (and despite the embarrassment thereof) religions institutions sought to encourage this new model of the universe over all others, including the then prevalent "steady state" theory.
Then history repeated itself. Evidence surfaced that the "Big Bang" might not really be a workable theory in the form of General Relativity, and its postulation that super massive objects would have gravity fields so strong that even light could not escape, nor would matter be able to differentiate. Since the entire universe existing in just one spot would be the most super massive object of all, the universe could not be born.
Needless to say, this suggestion that the Big Bang could not happen provoked the same exact reaction as the suggestion that the Earth might not be the center of everything. Instead of questioning the basic assumption, great effort was made to find a way to evolve the new data in terms acceptable to the assumption of a universe spawned in a single moment of creation. A complex Cosmology theory sprang up, encouraged by those invested in the "Big Bang" to explain why the basic foundational principles of physics behaved differently in the first few milliseconds of time. The math work is impressive, as impressive as that which supported the theory of the epicycles, but it is really just a polite way of saying "he rules just didn't apply when we need them not to apply".
An attempt was made to prove the Big Bang by searching for the "Cosmic Background Radiation", the presumed energy echo from the primordial explosion. and indeed a radio noise signal was picked up. Like Aristotle, and like Hubble, the discoverers of the Cosmic Background Radiation assumed the signal meant what they thought it did and could have no alternative explanation. The discovery of the Cosmic Background Radiation was then heralded as final roof of the Big Bang theory, and those institutions invested in that theory celebrated.
But just as the theory of epicycles did not accurately predict the observed motion of the planets, the Big Bang Theory turned out to be less than accurate about the radiation signal detected in space. When the satellite COBE was sent up to analyze the Cosmic Background Radiation, it discovered instead of the smooth featureless glow predicted by the cosmologists a highly complex and detailed structure. Yet again, rather than question the prime assumption that the signal being analyzed was actually from a supposed "Big Bang", research was encouraged to find a way to fit the data into the existing theory, again on the assumption that the signal detected could not be from any other source. And yet, an alternative explanation for the signal was right at hand, indeed literally on all sides.
Our Solar System and planets have heavy elements (without which you would not be here) because at some time prior to the creation of our Solar System another star in the immediate vicinity exploded, creating the heavy elements and scattering them into the universe. Every star that explodes creates a planetary nebula, such as the one easily seen with amateur telescopes in the constellation Lyra. A planetary nebula is a bubble of debris in space, and given the presence of heavy elements in our own Solar System, then somewhere out in space there must be the tenuous remains of a billions of years old planetary nebula, the result of the not-so-very-big bang, viewable from our unique point of view near the center. This model of Earth lying at the center of the remains of a supernova predicts exactly the sort of structure that COBE found in the presumed Cosmic Background Radiation. But as was the case with Galileo and Bruno, challengers to the "approved" creation myths ace a tough time, albeit funding cuts have replaced torture and being burned alive at the stake.
So pervasive is this bias to see the universe as created in a Biblical-consistent "Big Bang" that when William G Tifft submitted his first article on the quantization of the observed Red Shift to Astrophysical Journal, the Journal published it because they could not find errors in it, yet still felt compelled to editorially distance themselves from the conclusions.
The conclusions derived from quantized red shift are devastating to the conventional view of the universe created in a single Big Bang, as devastating as Galileo's first telescope was to the theory that the Earth was the center of the universe.
Edwin Hubble (like Aristotle) assumed there was no other explanation for the red shift he observed than the motion of the observed objects relative to Earth. But given the theory that the universe is expanding uniformly, the amount of red shifts would have to be uniformly and randomly distributed.
But they aren't.
The observed red shifts in the sky are quantized, falling into discreet intervals. This is not explained by the theory that the red shift is produced solely by relative velocity. Some other effect is at work. And that means that the assumption that the universe is expanding based solely on the red shift is invalidated. Some other effect IS at work that explains the observations, quite possibly one that triggers a quantized red shift over vast distances without respect to relative velocity.
Which means the universe is not expanding. Which means there was no moment of creation, no "Big Bang" with an epicycle-esque cosmology to explain why the greatest black hole of all didn't behave like a black hole. Which means that the background radiation mapped by COBE which didn't quite fit the Big Bang model is probably the remnant of the stellar explosion that created the heavy elements making up that computer you are reading this on.
But the lesson for our time of just how much our society remains dominated by religious superstitions is revealed by the fact that the quantized red-shift is NOT a new discovery. The first article regarding the observed data appeared in 1976, a quarter of a century ago. Since then, scientists as much in the service of superstition as were those scientists who "studied" epicycles have repeatedly tried to disprove the observations of Tifft and Cocke, only to confirm and re-confirm the truth, that there is a quantized red-shift, which casts doubt on the theory of an expanding universe and a "Big bang" creation.
Yet even though hard evidence exists to warrant a full re-examination of the basic assumption of the expanding universe, our science classes and TV programs still promote the "Big Bang" view, just as the erroneous theory of Aristotle continued to be promoted even after Galileo proved it wrong, because one theory fits into a theology, and the other does not.
Man's progress is not measured by the reaches of his science but by the limits of his superstition. The truth is known. But the truth is unpopular.
UPDATE: PROOF THE BIG BANG DID NOT HAPPEN
Perhaps the biggest contradiction with the Big Bang Theory is the question of the singularity. The "primordial egg" had to be a super-massive black hole. Therefore no amount of "bang", no matter how big, is going to thrust the universe out into, well, the universe.
Cosmologists eager to promote the Big Bang Theory have hit upon the "explanation" that the laws of physics, gravity., etc. simply did not apply in those first few moments of the universe. The present Cosmology theory is that the universe enjoyed a period of "rulelessness" of about 3 seconds, after which the elements formed and the fundamental forces of the universe, gravity included, were functioning as we see them today.
Ah, but there is a problem. The singularity formed by the primordial egg turns out to be rather large.
Estimates of the total mass of the universe vary wildly, given that the ends of the universe have not yet been determined. One estimate is found at http://www.rostra.dk/louis/quant_11.html of 2.6*1060.
From the mass, you can calculate the diameter of the event horizon by finding the distance from a point mass that will have an escape velocity of c. Use sqrt(2GM/r) where M is the mass of the hole (the entire universe in this case) and r is the radius (classical), and G is the gravitational constant. Work it backward starting at c and you get c^2=2GM/r.
This works out to an event horizon light years across!
In short, at the moment in time when the Big Bang theorists claim the universe was functioning as it does today, complete with all fundamental forces, the entirety of the universe' mass was still well within the event horizon of its own gravity well. That the well was not the product of a true singularity is irrelevent, Newton's equation provides an equivilent gravity field for a singularity or a super dense mass in a localized region.
Therefore the Big Bang, as currently described, could not have
produced the universe as we see it today. At three seconds, the time the
theorists claim the universe started operating as we know it, it would
have come under the influence of its own gravity and unable to reach an
escape velocity exceeding that of light, collapsed back into itself.
do the findings of Tifft and Cocke undermine the redshift-distance relationship? The answer might be YES
Report on confirmations of the observations. Note the reluctance to follow the data through to a conclusion.