The word science comes from the Latin word for knowledge. But how did we acquire this knowledge? Today we take the conveniences of life for granted, but it is to the efforts of our early ancestors from all quarters of the globe that we owe our gratitude for such advances.
From the earliest times man was fascinated by the stars – but had no telescope till the early 17th century. An eclipse was observable but inexplicable, and so colourful myths were invented to explain the phenomenon; but in the 8th Century BC the Babylonians learnt to predict the times of eclipses, based on careful observations. It was a Hindu astronomer in AD 628 who first developed rules for the idea of zero, and helped us add and subtract, and a Persian in the 9th Century who gave us the empty circle we now use every day as the symbol for nought.
But it was the ancient Greeks who really pioneered the age of western science – men like Archimedes, Ptolemy, and the great philosophers and thinkers Plato and Aristotle (whose subtle arguments are still debated today) and who asked the key questions about what is reality.