Kepler eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 53 pages of information about Kepler.
or some other equivalent, the earth would mount to the moon by a fifty-fourth part of their distance, and the moon fall towards the earth through the other fifty-three parts, and they would there meet, assuming, however, that the substance of both is of the same density.  If the earth should cease to attract its waters to itself all the waters of the sea would he raised and would flow to the body of the moon.  The sphere of the attractive virtue which is in the moon extends as far as the earth, and entices up the waters; but as the moon flies rapidly across the zenith, and the waters cannot follow so quickly, a flow of the ocean is occasioned in the torrid zone towards the westward.  If the attractive virtue of the moon extends as far as the earth, it follows with greater reason that the attractive virtue of the earth extends as far as the moon and much farther; and, in short, nothing which consists of earthly substance anyhow constituted although thrown up to any height, can ever escape the powerful operation of this attractive virtue.  Nothing which consists of corporeal matter is absolutely light, but that is comparatively lighter which is rarer, either by its own nature, or by accidental heat.  And it is not to be thought that light bodies are escaping to the surface of the universe while they are carried upwards, or that they are not attracted by the earth.  They are attracted, but in a less degree, and so are driven outwards by the heavy bodies; which being done, they stop, and are kept by the earth in their own place.  But although the attractive virtue of the earth extends upwards, as has been said, so very far, yet if any stone should be at a distance great enough to become sensible compared with the earth’s diameter, it is true that on the motion of the earth such a stone would not follow altogether; its own force of resistance would be combined with the attractive force of the earth, and thus it would extricate itself in some degree from the motion of the earth.”  The above passage from the Introduction to Kepler’s “Commentaries on the Motion of Mars,” always regarded as his most valuable work, must have been known to Newton, so that no such incident as the fall of an apple was required to provide a necessary and sufficient explanation of the genesis of his Theory of Universal Gravitation.  Kepler’s glimpse at such a theory could have been no more than a glimpse, for he went no further with it.  This seems a pity, as it is far less fanciful than many of his ideas, though not free from the “virtues” and “animal faculties,” that correspond to Gilbert’s “spirits and humours”.  We must, however, proceed to the subject of Mars, which was, as before noted, the first important investigation entrusted to Kepler on his arrival at Prague.

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Kepler from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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