In this post, we will see the book How people discovered the Shape of the Earth by A. Tomilin.
About the book
What is the shape of the Earth? An odd question, isn’t it? The world’s a globe. It’s round.
To me and you it’s obvious. We’re 20th century people. The grass is green, the sky is blue and the world is round. We’ve known it From our early childhood. But is it really all that obvious?
Go out in the country. Walk to the middle of the largest field, till all that you can see is grass and flowers to the far horizon. Does it look round? Can you see the bulge? No. It lies before you flat as a pancake right to the horizon. Every bush and tree, every tiny hillock stands out clearly. So who says the world is round?
When computers were used to calculate the surface of the earth with information from the satellites, it was found that the shape of our planet is not quite so simple. It is slightly pear-shaped. The Northern Hemisphere is stretched up a bit towards the pole, and the Southern Hemisphere is dented in. There are dents and bumps on its surface. And if you could slice the Earth through the middle at the equator the result would be a circle a little bit out of true. So it’s a bit a slightly crooked one at that. What should this shape be called?
Scientists tried out all sorts of names. Finally they chose “geoid”. This is made up of “geo”, the Greek for “earth”, and “eidos”, the Greek for “view”. So all it really means is earthlike. In fact the earth is a slightly imperfect sphere. How people found this out is a long and interesting story. And that is what this book is all about.
The book was translated from the Russian to English by Diana Miller. The wonderful illustrations are drawn by Yuri Smolnikov. The English version book was published by Raduga in 1984. The Hindi version was translated by Yogendra Nagpal and was published by Raduga in 1986 and then by People’s Publishing House.
The original scan was done by Guptaji (linked below) we cleaned and OCRed the scan. Though the resolution is not as good. There is a Hindi (black and white) scan from the Digital Library of India.
Original scan by Guptaji
My Land – the Whole Earth 7
Why People Left the Places Where They Lived 9
How People Learnt to Live Together 11
The First Travels 13
How People Thought the Earth Is Flat 17
The Land of Sages and Philosophers 21
Why the Phoenicians Thought the Earth Is Arched 25
Who First Suggested that the Earth Is Round 29
Who Was the First to Measure the Earth 35
The Retreat 40
Who Invented Maps 47
An Arab Geographer’s Silver Map 50
A Map for the Stay at Home 52
Maps for Distant Journeys 55
From Map to Globe 63
The History of a Globe 67
What Size Is Our Earth? 73
Is the Earth a Melon or an Apple? 75