The year was 500 B.C.E. when, watching a ship sail across the ocean, over the horizon, Pythagoras says something controversial, something ludicrous, something so ridiculous he is laughed off the beach, he says, "I don't think the Earth flat, I actually believe the Earth is a sphere..."
To which all in attendance looked at him like he was bat-crap crazy!!
Yup, up until that moment, we, as a global community believed the Earth was flat! (At least scholars believe the earliest expression of such ideas were contributed by the Greeks). It wasn't until Pythagoras, and other Pre-Socratics began a series of Scientific explorations into the heavens to discover what the stars had to tell us.
Can you imagine being a scientist in a time when science wasn't cool and if you said the wrong thing, the leadership would have you executed!? Pythagoras didn't meet that end, nor did his fellow Sphere-Earth believers, Anaximander and Aristotle die at the hand of an angry mob either but, Galileo would not be so lucky!
For centuries, the scientific theories and assertions stood as supreme law, such as the Sun revolves around the Earth. Galileo speculated this was wrong. He snapped it, he tweeted it, he mused about it in the cafeteria... until one day when the Catholic Church had enough of his sassiness and called him to judgment. They demanded he reverse his ideas or face death!
After years of turmoil and struggle, debating comets, Geocentricism, Copernicanism, the motion of the Earth, tides, moon shape and location, Galileo dies at 77. The church denies his soul into the Heavens and refuses his burial. It was not until the 1700s did he receive a proper burial in Florence. Oddly enough, during the move to his new resting place, they removed one tooth and three fingers to forever enshrine them across the globe at various locations. Funny though, you can see his middle finger on display in the Museo Galileo in Florence, Italy.
We must remember the time in which our early Scientists proclaimed their beliefs. This was a time of great power and wealth among the Church, who had the ability to execute men on a whim! Imagine, today, someone standing on the White House steps proclaiming the Earth is Flat... a ridiculous crazy notion no doubt but... what if, someday, someone proclaims something just as ridiculous, will you offer a moment of research, or execute them where they stand?!