In 1610, Galileo published Sidereus Nuncius, the Starry Messenger, about discoveries he made with his new telescope. He was attacked for his theory because it seemed to contradict Scripture. Because of this, in 1633, Galileo was tried and convicted of heresy.
Fifteen hundred years prior to Galileo’s discovery that the earth was round and orbited the sun, there is evidence that Chinese mathematicians had calculated the size of the earth on the basis that it must have been spherical (round). However, similar to Galileo, the Chinese people would continue to believe the earth was flat for centuries. It is possible that when Qin Shi Huangdi (259 – 210 BC), China’s first emperor, had the great book burning, he burned the evidence of earlier Chinese mathematical texts.
In addition, older Chinese creation myths included details that accounted for the tilt of the earth and other astronomical facts. Several existing, ancient Chinese applied mathematics texts prove the Chinese were the first to use some of the most basic and advanced mathematical principles and concepts utilized in modern times. Two of these texts are the Chou Pei and Chiu Chang.
Learn more about China’s first Emperor Qin Shi Haungdi by reading and watching this nine part series on his life.
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