Machina Mundi > The new physics of the Universe >The Law of Gravitation and the Universe

The Law of Gravitation and the Universe

Even more than Galileo, Isaac Newton was absorbed by mechanics, optics, and mathematics. Moreover, the major part of his writings was concerned with areas such as history, alchemy, and scriptural texts. Therefore, Newton can hardly be seen as a committed "astronomer'. In fact, he performed very few telescopic observations, and did not plan any new World system. Nevertheless, no clever manipulation is required to slot Newton into place in the astronomical revolution, as he comprehensively revised the physics that Renaissance European natural philosophers had inherited from the Ancients.

Aristotle had located a gap between terrestrial and heavenly physics. The first had laws valid in the terrestrial (corruptible and mortal) region; the second had proper laws valid only in the ethereal (incorruptible and eternal) region. This duality remained unquestioned until Galileo attempted to demonstrate the mobility of the Earth. However, Galileo hypothesised that only one physics could exist, but he did not actually apply terrestrial physics to the ethereal region. Newton, in contrast, established new general physical laws which were at the same time a result and demonstration of the existence of a single terrestrial and ethereal World.


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