Eratosthenes and the awakening of the mind
I remember being 7 years old, doing stuff that all 7 year olds do: playing around, bugging my parents for toys, complaning about soup. It was around that time, when, accidentally, when I was looking for cartoons in TV (probably Spiderman) that my eyes landed in a TV series called Cosmos. After listening for a few seconds, I forgot everything that was around me and I got hooked up forever in the world of reason.
Even for a 7-year-old, planet Earth is a sphere. I knew that because the pictures of Earth from the moon were/are quite popular. Although we used to make fun of medieval people because they thought the Earth was flat, we understood them because, we said, thay did not have pictures from spaceships. And then, Carl Sagan, like the best teacher I have ever had, explained me that there was a guy who lived 2300 years ago and that had concluded that the Earth was a sphere. And not only a sphere. He calculated its diameter!! What tools did he use? A stick, the shadows the stick projected and his brain. Later, I found that this man also calculated, with respectable precision, the tilt of the Earth's axis and the distance from the Earth to the moon.
I was 7 and asked myself. How can this knowledge could have been forgotten for 1700 years? The destruction af Alexandria's Library came to my mind, but also the pernicious influence of blind faith for humanity. Since then, I decided to ask the question, to find the answer, to seek the knowledge. As Carl Sagan said, perfectly pointed out by Sarah, "I don't want to believe, I want to know".
Thanks, Sarah, for taking me back to 1980 and for converting lack of sleep into beautiful memory.