A Planet Called Earth - download pdf or read online

By George Gamow

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I hold that there is a certain Quantity of Motion in all the created matter that never increases nor diminishes; so that when a body moves another, it loses as much of its motion as it gives to it . . ” 69 N EW T ON I A N STUDIES N E WT O N AND DESCARTES rectilinear. Newton puts it more cryptically, using only the Cartesian formula quantum in se est. It is, of course, in quite different ways that Descartes and Newton explain that bodies persevere in their states. ^ The supreme law of the monde is the law of constancy, or con­ servation.

To that of Copernicus, according to whom similar bodies - earthen, lunar, and so forth - were endowed (or animated) by an inner ten­ dency to come together and build a whole “attraction” was also used by RobervaP - as Leibniz did not fail to point out - whose We must be upon our guard . . ^ Fontenelle was right, of course. Words are not neutral. They have, and convey, meanings. They also have a history. Thus the term “attraction,” even if mutual attraction be meant, implies, or sug­ gests - as Fontenelle rightly points out - a certain active relation between the attracting and the attracted body: the former is active, the latter is not.

Thus, for instance, we find there the first consistent. ^ That is not a mean merit. Voltaire could ignore it; Newton, however, could not. ^ Nor did he mention that it was Descartes’s formulation of the prin­ ciple of inertia, which placed motion and rest on the same ontological level, that inspired his own. We shall not judge the Newtonians, nor even Newton, for being un­ fair to Descartes. Human thought is polemic; it thrives on negation. New truths are foes of the ancient ones which they must turn into falsehoods.

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A Planet Called Earth by George Gamow

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