September 2, 2017

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By A. Wolf, F. Dannemann, A. Armitage, Douglas McKie

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The same kind o f natural events happen throughout the universe, and even the heavens conform to natural laws. The Copernican or heliocentric hypothesis, it is contended in the Dialogue, also explains quite simply the halts and retrogressions of the planets as mere appearances due to the annual revolution of the Earth, whereas the Ptolemaic or geocentric hypo­ thesis could not explain them at all without resort to the most extravagant suppositions. There are also certain terrestial pheno­ mena which, according to the Dialogue, seem to support the Coper­ nican hypothesis, namely, the tides and the trade-winds, which are best explained as due to the rotation of the Earth.

The Dialogue met this objection by pointing out that the enormous distances of the fixed stars necessarily made such parallax imperceptible, for the fixed stars must be at least ten thousand times as far away from the Earth as GALILEO GALILEI 35 *$im. (In fact it was not till 1838 that astronomical instruments methods had developed sufficiently for the measurement of parallax by F. W. ) ■other objection was equally old, having also been raised by Aristotle, who argued that if the Earth rotated, then wni>bject thrown up vertically should not return to the place from $& ch i t was thrown, but slightly to the west of that position, because during the time taken up by the rise and fall of the object Earth must have rotated slightly towards the east; as a matter glr tact, however, objects so thrown usually return to their original {daces.

Hence also his application o f the term “ dead weight” for the mere pressure of a body at rest. One of his experiments on impact led to important developments later on, and it may be of interest to describe it here. He suspended from one arm o f a beam balance two buckets, one o f which was arranged above the other (see Illustr. 19). The upper bucket con­ tained water, the lower one was empty. A weight was suspended from the other arm of the balance so that the system was in equili­ brium^ The water from the upper bucket was then allowed to 48 HISTORY OF SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND PHILOSOPHY flow (through an opening in the bottom o f this bucket) into the lower bucket.

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