EDUCATION: Hooked on Classical Science

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Science  28 Feb 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5611, pp. 1289
DOI: 10.1126/science.299.5611.1289c

They didn't have telescopes, electricity, or computers, but the Romans and ancient Greeks could boast some impressive technological and scientific achievements. For instance, by cleverly applying geometry, the Greek astronomer Eratosthenes (circa 280-200 B.C.) used the height of the sun at noon on the summer solstice to calculate the circumference of Earth.

Find out more about Greek and Roman scientific and technical prowess from this encyclopedia created by Tracey Rihll, a historian at the University of Swansea in Wales. With pithy accounts and a bevy of outside links, the growing site profiles ancient inventions such as the Antikythera mechanism, an intricate clockwork instrument from the 1st century B.C. that was probably an astronomical computer. Capsule biographies portray ancient thinkers such as the Roman natural historian Pliny the Elder, who was killed in A.D. 79 while observing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

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