Antiquity’s liquid cosmologies

1. The air bubble

For Thales of Miletus (a greek philosopher and scientist), the world in which we live is a bubble of air, floating in an infinite liquid mass.

Thus the world is closed, and bathes in an infinite matter.

2. The world in the eyes of the Greeks

Mondes: Mythes et Images de l'univers de Leïla Haddad & Guillaume Duprat, éd. du Seuil, 2006, pp. 12-13.

Mondes : Myths et Images de l’Univers, by Leïla Haddad & Guillaume Duprat, pub. du Seuil, 2006, pp. 12-13.


The sky is like and upside-down brass lining. It is the land of Zeus, king of gods.

After it has travelled from east to west over the course of a day, the Sun goes back east over-night, floating on a golden bowl across the ocean.

The earth is flat and circular. It is surrounded by the river “Ocean”, a one-sided river, land of the god Poseidon.

All other rivers stream from the river “Ocean”.

The closest you go towards the edges and depths, the more chaotic the world is : night and day, life and death, east and west are all mixed up.

Chaos is a gigantic opening under the world. He has given birth to the world and he sustains it.





3. The cosmic soup

“In the beginning was an infinite cosmic soup, compact and still. The sky holds an inifite amount of seeds. It is made of the same substances as Earth, and is governed only by gods.” Anaxagoras of Clazomenae (greek philosopher).

Grande tâche rouge de Jupiter. Zone de haute pression (anticyclone) Image en couleur représentatives réalisée en 1995 par la Sonde Galiléo.

Jupiter’s great red stain. High pressure area (anticyclone). Image with representative colours created in 1995 by the Galiléo spaceraft.

En couleurs accentuées, la photographie rapprochée de Jupiter. Réalisée par la sonde Voyager 1, le 6 juin 1979.

Augmented colours of a close-up photography of Jupiter. Captured by the Voyager 1 spacecraft, on the 6th of June 1979.













1. In the Antiquity  period, Thales thought  the world was :


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