The Renaissance Elements
Elements of the Renaissance:
Most of the ancient philosophers used a set of classical elements to explain patterns in nature. The Greek version of these ideas dates back from Pre-Socratic times and remained throughout the middle Ages and into the Renaissance. So this means that the basic understanding of elements in the 16th century by Shakespeare and Europe was about the same as the Greek envisioned it a long time before which was sometime before 470 B.C. The Greek classic elements were Fire, Earth, Air and Water. And not only did they think that those where the only four elements and that everything was made out of one or a combination of them, but they thought that every human being was made out of every single one of the elements. And this is what they thought that each element was made of:
Air-is primarily moist and secondarily warm
Fire-is primarily warm and secondarily dry
Earth-is primarily dry and secondarily cool
Water-is primarily cool and secondarily moist
Another fact about the four classical elements that the Greeks established is that they thought that every element returned from where it came from. For instance they thought:
Air (which was there breath) would return to the sky when they died.
Fire (which was supposedly there conscious) would return to the sun when they died.
Earth (which was there bodies) would fall back to the Earth when they died.
Water (which was there bodily fluids) would return to the ocean and rivers when they died.
So moving on in time around two hundred years after these four classical elements were established, Aristotle decided to add a new one. This new element was called: Aether, spelled A-e-t-h-e-r. He thought about the four current elements and looked at the fact that they all return to where they came from, and if that was so then what about the rest of the universe? What was in the rest of the universe? And how do the stars stay in the sky? He answered his questions with establishing a new element: Aether. He said that the entire universe outside this world is filled with Aether. And that all the stars where stuck in this Aether. I am not quite sure about his thought process when he came up with this, but it must have been very interesting.
References to the classical elements in early modern literature are frequently found in the work of many writers, including William Shakespeare:
Thou hast as chiding a nativity
As fire, air, water, earth, and heaven can make,
To herald thee from the womb
-PERICLES, from Pericles Prince of Tyre
What we know today
Elements of today:
We now know today that there are over a hundred elements that exist on earth and in the universe. And Earth, Air, Fire, and Water are not elements themselves but consist of a few of the basic elements. Around two hundred and fifty years after Shakespeare’s time a Russian chemist named Dmitri Mendeleev organized a table that sorted all the known elements at that time. This is known as The Periodic table of elements. As time went on scientists added more and more elements to this table as they were discovered. And just recently scientists have found a way to combined smaller elements to create a larger one. And today there are around 112, but twenty of them do not occur naturally.
We now know the reason that the stars stay up in the sky, it’s because space almost a perfect vacuum, which means it effectively has no friction and allows stars, planets and moons to roam freely along precise gravitational patterns, not because the universe is filled with Aether.
There is just one more thing I would like to bring up, and that is we are not absolutely positive about many scientific discoveries, even the best men and woman in science may have hypothesized completely wrong, because if you think about it the best scientists back in the renaissance and before then were to our current knowledge completely wrong, they thought that the Earth was flat at one point, and you could fall off of it. And everyone knows that we too, may be completely wrong.
I got this information from www.wikipedia.com