Words aside, scientists long debated the astronomical relationship between the sun and the Earth. During the 4th century, B.C., Plato and Aristotle espoused a theory called geocentrism, which proposed that the sun revolved around the Earth. The Aristotelian or geocentric model was further elaborated by Claudius Ptolemy in the 2nd century, A.D. These “proto-scientists” were so revered that their ideas drowned out the far less influential Aristarchus of Samos, of the 3rd century B.C., who was probably the first to propose a heliocentric theory, wherein the Earth revolves around the sun. Plato, Aristotle, and Ptolemy’s geocentric theory prevailed for more than a millennium.
Regardless of how we understand it or even what we call our star, every morning (at least for the foreseeable future), we can rejoice in saying, as the late and multi-talented musician George Harrison eloquently wrote, “here comes the sun”!
From: The Origins of the word Sun, by Howard Markel
Howard Markel, M.D., Ph.D. is a professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan. An elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, he is editor-in-chief of the Milbank Quarterly and a Guggenheim fellow.
Edited by: Eugenio Zorrilla.