copernican system

My History of Science Was Wrong
  • Back when Venus passed between Earth and the Sun, a conversation with a local astronomer got me interested in reading just a little bit about the history of astronomy. I was completely surprised by how reasonable old-timey theories like Aristotle's levity/gravity and a geocentric Earth are--IF you drop your presentist knowledge in favour of the tools that were around at the time.
  • I learned a lot of things from reading just one (long) online comment-thread
  • Part of the understanding is just how crazy our modern cosmology is. Of course none of us question it because there were astronauts on the moon on TV and besides our teachers told us so and they have a higher social position and education than we do. (Bacon) This really hit home for me when I read that some ancient Greek natural-philosophers had measured how fast the Earth would have to spin to validate heliocentricity and concluded the number (~10,000 mph) was ludicrous. It sure feels like I'm standing still and not being blown by a 10,000 mph wind!
  • One ancient natural-philosopher speculated: If only there were some kind of ... ENVELOPE, or SHEATH, that would protect everything from spinning off and keep the air still on the Earth as the Earth whirled at its . Speaking of ad-hoc theories that fail Ockham's Razor....
  • (But wait ... how could they make that calculation if they thought the Earth was Flat because no Colón/Magellan...? I think that's another misconception I'll have to remedy later.)
  • Also interesting is that the concept of relativistic frames shows up in the 14th century. To say whether the celestial sphere or the Earthly sphere is rotating (what the stars can be observed to do at night) ... well, it's all just a matter of perspective, innit? Neither one "is really" rotating, it's just that the "other" is rotating -- considered from wherever "you" are standing.
  • I was also reminded, in imagining the astronomers working with their epicycles to predict -- quantitatively, not necessarily knowing the underlying mechanism -- the motions of the stars and planets, of quantitative finance. Particularly the machine-learning side. We just try to figure out *a* formula that works. If it has lower Vapnik-Chervonenkis dimension, great, but all we're really trying to do is predict what will happen or, more often, the risk of X happening. I can imagine future economists looking back on what fools we are, with our neural nets trained on the wrong data and overfitting the wrong functional forms. All for the sake of making a dollar and getting that social approval.
  • Have you ever tried explaining why inertia is right and things all fall at the same speed to a kid? Because things don't all fall at the same speed, and smoke in fact goes up. Not only that, but (if you have chosen to live far enough away from artificial light or regularly venture there at night) the sky is obviously still and even with great precision we can't measure parallax. Not to mention
  • Also -- that whole "Humans have over time come to see themselves as less and less special or privileged in the order of the universe"? Who said that, Sagan? I oughtta put a different book in front of his face before he promulgated all that stuff. The ancients and medievals didn't see humans as special or privileged by the Earth being at the centre of the Universe. They saw us as being at the bottom (which we obviously are. all the Heavens are above us. "up" is defined as the normal to the manifold surface of the Earth) of the natural order. This is totally consistent with the Fallen post-Eden state -- the Earth getting older and decaying, Man living shorter and shorter lifespans and falling deeper into Sin, the great civilisations of the past crumbling and decaying.
  • Anyway, there are way too many informative things said by different people to do "Quote" posts and I want these to be tied together. So I'm using the "Chat" Format instead.
  • if heliocentrism is so blatantly obvious and only the stupid Catholics didn’t get it because of their “blind faith”, why did the Chinese, who were unencumbered by both Aristotle and the Bible, have to wait until the Jesuits – of all people – came, rather than vice versa? It’s funny how all these clamorous indictments against the Catholic Church for holding back science somehow amount to a big insult to non-European civilizations, who didn’t have the evil Church to hold them back and somehow still didn’t make it, despite being given a 1000-year headstart.
  • Don’t forget, heliocentrism had been falsified in good Popperian fashion by the absence of the predicted stellar parallax and the lack of eastward deflection in falling bodies. (Good evidence why Popper is inadequate.) The latter was not empirically settled until the 1790s when Gugliemini dropped weights down the inside of the spiral staircase of the tower of the Univ. of Bologna. The former was apparently settled when Calandrelli observed parallax in a-Lyrae. (“Apparently” because some have contended that he could not have actually observed it. However, it was reported in the literature in 1803.)
  • the Jesuits were half-way convinced. Grienberger was reported to have said that Scheiner was on board and even Clavius was not far from the Copernican system. Then GG had to get into a flame war with Grassi over the comets of 1618, where Grassi had made meticulous telescopic observations and was clearly right on the science while GG had not even bothered to observe them, and so the Jesuits, who had earlier celebrated Galileo, sat on their hands when he went on trial.
  • Galileo declared that the comets of 1618 were emanations in the earth’s atmosphere; whereas the Jesuit astronomers claimed they were bodies in highly eccentric orbits that had come from somewhere beyond the moon. In the Dialogo, Galileo had claimed the ocean tides were sloshing caused by the earth’s rotation and so conclusive proof. But centuries before, Aquinas had written that the tides were caused somehow by the moon.
  • Somebody else pointed out that the Catholics have had the longest-running astronomical observatory in the world. Elsewhere that Aquinas wrote that there are multiple possible interpretations of the Bible and we shouldn't settle on THE official one until we know it's true (however false interpretations can be ruled out)
  • Apparently the future Pope told Galileo in 1611 that the theologians needed a little time to go over his work. He pushed them on the issue and said they needed to reinterpret the Bible based on his work of natural philosophy, That was a no-no because only the Church can interpret the Bible (this is before Martin Luther) and that is in fact where all of their political power comes from. So rather than being anti-science, the Church was forced, politically, into taking GG head on when, for intellectual reasons, they woudl have preferred to continue their centuries-long project of squaring science with religion.
  • (In the discussion it coes clear that science and religion as we think of them today are misleading terms, because science as we understand it didn't exist and neither did religion as we understand it. Natural philosophy, astronomy, geometry, and theology are better terms.
  • here's what the other guy said:
  • The Catholic Church has one of the oldest operating observatories in the world. During the time the Catholic Church was ascendant, Europe experienced one of the greatest scientific booms in world history.
  • The conflict thesis about Galileo and Bruno are basically urban legends that have little connection to what actually happened. It always disappoints atheists when they find out that Galileo was actually kind of a dick, and Bruno wasn't executed in the slightest for his support of heliocentrism, but I try to always attack urban legends whenever they crop up.
  • Geocentricity was not seen to support humanity’s “specialness”. The centre of the universe was the bottom of the universe – everywhere you looked was up. That we occupy the place of least dignity in the universe was a commonplace of classical & medieval poetry. --Andrew Brew
  • "Anachronistically, we tend to think the Church's great problem was negotiating the difference between dogma and emerging science. But the Galileo debate was superimposed on a much older struggle to assimilate Greek thought (Aristotle) w Church teaching." —Jim Harrison
  • "Immutability of the heavens is not & never was prerequisite to geocentricity. Stoics rejected immutability & accepted geo."—@rmathematicus
  • "There is an obsession with suggesting that X was wrong, and that the 'truth' came along and bulldozed all previous lies."—Pete Langman
  • "contrary to popular opinion, Copernicus’ De revolutionibus was not on the Librorum Prohibitorum but only referred there until corrected."
  • "Kepler worried about having his book on the Librorum Prohibitorum but friends pointed out that it became more attractive, forbidden fruit."
  • "All the ban meant was that scholars could not find the book on open shelves but had to apply…duly delivered from the poison cabinet."
  • attributed as a chat
  • presentist ... fuels debate
  • W
  • Jim Harrison: What really ended the debate was not a decision on which system had fewer epicycles and assumptions, but the emergence of a persuasive dynamic explanation. So long as it’s just a matter of geometry, Tycho’s system works as well as a heliocentric system even if you consider the phases of Venus. Once you develop laws of motion and a theory of gravity, however, it becomes pretty hard to think that the itty bitty Earth is lording it over the enormous sun. It seems there was this guy named Newton…
  • Came across a historian of science who is tearing apart the story we were all told about the Catholic Church and Galileo.
  • https: //thonyc.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/but-it-doesn%e2%80%99t-move/
  • A few choice quotes:
  • @rmathematicus: if heliocentrism is so blatantly obvious and only the stupid Catholics didn’t get it because of their “blind faith”, why did the Chinese, who were unencumbered by both Aristotle and the Bible, have to wait until the Jesuits – of all people – came, rather than vice versa? It’s funny how all these clamorous indictments against the Catholic Church for holding back science somehow amount to a big insult to non-European civilizations, who didn’t have the evil Church to hold them back and somehow still didn’t make it, despite being given a 1000-year headstart.
  • @rmathematicus: Don’t forget, heliocentrism had been falsified in good Popperian fashion by the absence of the predicted stellar parallax and the lack of eastward deflection in falling bodies. (Good evidence why Popper is inadequate.) The latter was not empirically settled until the 1790s when Gugliemini dropped weights down the inside of the spiral staircase of the tower of the Univ. of Bologna. The former was apparently settled when Calandrelli observed parallax in a-Lyrae. (“Apparently” because some have contended that he could not have actually observed it. However, it was reported in the literature in 1803.)
  • @rmathematicus: the Jesuits were half-way convinced. Grienberger was reported to have said that Scheiner was on board and even Clavius was not far from the Copernican system. Then GG had to get into a flame war with Grassi over the comets of 1618, where Grassi had made meticulous telescopic observations and was clearly right on the science while GG had not even bothered to observe them, and so the Jesuits, who had earlier celebrated Galileo, sat on their hands when he went on trial.
  • @rmathematics: Galileo declared that the comets of 1618 were emanations in the earth’s atmosphere; whereas the Jesuit astronomers claimed they were bodies in highly eccentric orbits that had come from somewhere beyond the moon. In the Dialogo, Galileo had claimed the ocean tides were sloshing caused by the earth’s rotation and so conclusive proof. But centuries before, Aquinas had written that the tides were caused somehow by the moon.
  • @rmathematicus: Somebody else pointed out that the Catholics have had the longest-running astronomical observatory in the world. Elsewhere that Aquinas wrote that there are multiple possible interpretations of the Bible and we shouldn't settle on THE official one until we know it's true (however false interpretations can be ruled out)
  • @rmathematicus: Apparently the future Pope told Galileo in 1611 that the theologians needed a little time to go over his work. He pushed them on the issue and said they needed to reinterpret the Bible based on his work of natural philosophy, That was a no-no because only the Church can interpret the Bible (this is before Martin Luther) and that is in fact where all of their political power comes from. So rather than being anti-science, the Church was forced, politically, into taking GG head on when, for intellectual reasons, they woudl have preferred to continue their centuries-long project of squaring science with religion.
  • @isomorphisms: (In the discussion it coes clear that science and religion as we think of them today are misleading terms, because science as we understand it didn't exist and neither did religion as we understand it. Natural philosophy, astronomy, geometry, and theology are better terms.
  • here's what the other guy said:
  • The Catholic Church has one of the oldest operating observatories in the world. During the time the Catholic Church was ascendant, Europe experienced one of the greatest scientific booms in world history.
  • The conflict thesis about Galileo and Bruno are basically urban legends that have little connection to what actually happened. It always disappoints atheists when they find out that Galileo was actually kind of a dick, and Bruno wasn't executed in the slightest for his support of heliocentrism, but I try to always attack urban legends whenever they crop up.
  • Andrew Brew: Geocentricity was not seen to support humanity’s “specialness”. The centre of the universe was the bottom of the universe – everywhere you looked was up. That we occupy the place of least dignity in the universe was a commonplace of classical & medieval poetry.
  • Jim Harrison: Anachronistically, we tend to think the Church's great problem was negotiating the difference between dogma and emerging science. But the Galileo debate was superimposed on a much older struggle to assimilate Greek thought (Aristotle) w Church teaching.
  • @rmathematicus: Immutability of the heavens is not & never was prerequisite to geocentricity. The Stoics, for example, rejected immutability & accepted geocentricity.
  • Pete Langman: There is an obsession with suggesting that X was wrong, and that the 'truth' came along and bulldozed all previous lies.
  • "contrary to popular opinion, Copernicus’ De revolutionibus was not on the Librorum Prohibitorum but only referred there until corrected."
  • "Kepler worried about having his book on the Librorum Prohibitorum but friends pointed out that it became more attractive, forbidden fruit."
  • "All the ban meant was that scholars could not find the book on open shelves but had to apply…duly delivered from the poison cabinet."
Much blame has been directed at [Pope] Urban for the Inquisition’s condemnation of Galileo and the prohibition of his ‘Dialogue on the Great World Systems’. In fact he cannot reasonably be reproached for his attitude toward the affair, which was always one of studious moderation. When, in 1615, Galileo first got into trouble for his advocacy of the Copernican system, we find Matteo Barberini, at that time a Cardinal, declaring his admiration for the great mathematician but warning him not to fall foul of the theologians. It was partly owing to his intervention with Paul V that the Holy Office’s decree of 1616 denouncing the heliocentric theory was followed, so far as Galileo was concerned, by a new admonition from Cardinal Bellarmine. Otherwise he was not punished. 
 
There was never any danger of his being sent to the stake like that earlier victim of Bellarmine, Giordano Bruno. But Bruno, the apostate Dominican whose free-thinking philosophy cut at the roots of Catholic doctrine, was in a very different category from the astronomer who, in Barberini’s view, was doing no worse than propounding a brilliant hypothesis. 
 
Urban’s friendship with Galileo survived the admonition. In 1633, when Galileo was hauled before the Inquisition for the second time, the Pope took the utmost care to ensure that he was leniently treated, that he was not put in prison and that his trial and abjuration were so managed as to allow him to stay unharassed and in comfortable retirement for the remaining nine years of his life.
— 

Sir Nicholas Cheetham, Keepers of the Keys: A History of the Popes from St. Peter to John Paul II (1982)

There are some additional points to make about Giordano Bruno, with whom Tumblr has a bizarre fascination. He was ordained a Catholic priest when he was a young man, but his heresy became evident a few years later. After  fleeing from his Dominican Order and his charges of heresy, he was (in no particular order):

  • excommunicated by the Catholic Church
  • and by the Calvinists 
  • and by the Lutherans 
  • and denied from lecturing at Oxford

When he was denounced to the Venetian Inquisition and later extradited to the Roman Inquisition, his charges were not about his science and heliocentrism (which was terrible), but about his faith (which was openly heretical). The Catholic Church didn’t even have a position on heliocentrism yet. That would come about 30 years later, with Galileo - who got in trouble because he argued heliocentrism was truth, rather than hypothesis. 

Bruno was kept in prison before his trial for roughly 6 years - it is hypothesized that Church and state officials spent that time encouraging him to recant. After a trial in 1599, he was condemned to death for heresy against the Catholic Church, since he was a Catholic priest who had actively and knowingly preached anti-Catholic teaching
 
It is critical to note that inquisition tribunals were an interesting mix of Church and state power. The Church did not retain the right to put people to death. Parties condemned to death were turned over to the appropriate secular power, who could decide to carry out the judgment. Before the French Revolution, religion and politics were knit closely together - heretics of the national religion were typically seen as enemies of the state as well. 

It has been remarked that he was a poor theologian and an even poorer scientist - it is nearly impossible to make sense his his pseudo-scientific works. Bruno should be found offensive not only by Catholics, but by Calvinists, Lutherans, scholars, and scientists. 
 
(via byjoveimbeinghumble)

4

February 19, 1473: Nicolaus Copernicus was born in Royal Prussia in the Kingdom of Poland.

In his 1543 text De revolvtionibvs orbium cœlestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres), Copernicus claimed that the Earth revolved around the sun.

This map is not from that volume, but is instead a facsimile of a map from Cellarius' Harmonia Macrocosmica.

Map: Cellarius, Andreas. The Copernican system: plate 5 from the Harmonia Macrocosmica sue Atlas Universalis Novus. Salt Lake City, Utah: Hansen Planetarium, 1982.

So which is real, the Ptolemaic or the Copernican system? Although it is not uncommon for people to say that Copernicus proved Ptolemy wrong, that is not true. As in the case of our normal view versus that of the goldfish, one can use either picture as a model of the universe, for our observations of the heavens can be explained by assuming either the earth or the sun to be at rest. Despite its role in philosophical debates over the nature of our universe, the real advantage of the Copernican system is simply that the equations of motion are much simpler in the frame of reference in which the sun is at rest.
—  Stephen Hawking (The Grand Design, 2010, pp. 41, 42)