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Thread: Was Copernicus right?

  1. #31
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    There are many possible motivations it seems. Whatever the reason I'd bet he felt certain about his conclusion.
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  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam5 View Post
    But when some of their “theorist” found something that was symmetrical or seemed so, then they would say that it represented “perfection”.
    But the face of the moon was not found by theorists - it's visible and visibly asymmetrical to anyone with halfway decent eyes.

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndreasJ View Post
    But the face of the moon was not found by theorists - it's visible and visibly asymmetrical to anyone with halfway decent eyes.
    What do you see as asymmetrical?
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    What do you see as asymmetrical?
    The pattern of high and low albedo regions. The man in the moon, if you will.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    What do you see as asymmetrical?
    Lunar disk

    ETA: warning, astrological content therein

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndreasJ View Post
    The pattern of high and low albedo regions. The man in the moon, if you will.
    Yes, of course. I misread your post, sorry.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndreasJ View Post
    But the face of the moon was not found by theorists - it's visible and visibly asymmetrical to anyone with halfway decent eyes.
    Ok, my sentence wasn’t worded properly. Perhaps I should have said that, “When something was noticed in nature (by everyone) to be asymmetrical, the theorist would often NOT use it as an example of ‘perfection’, but when something was noticed to be symmetrical, then they would say it represented ‘perfection’.”

    I think this is a common trait among a lot of people of various ideological and philosophical beliefs.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by George;1256653 to AndreasJ

    What do you see as asymmetrical?
    Interesting question. Actually, the moon exhibits circular symmetry but pattern asymmetry, something like a combination of certain kinds of symmetrical and asymmetrical art nouveau:

    http://www.artshole.co.uk/arts/artis...ple-Advert.jpg

    Here is an example of symmetrical art nouveau:

    http://imagecache2.allposters.com/im...ns-Posters.jpg

    And here is an example of asymmetrical art nouveau:

    http://www.affordable-interiors.co.u...u%20irises.jpg

  9. #39
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    The problem could be that, at least I learned in school, sunspots were a tough sell because they implied blemishes on the face of the sun. However, the "blemishes" on the moon are far larger....

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdvance View Post
    The problem could be that, at least I learned in school, sunspots were a tough sell because they implied blemishes on the face of the sun. However, the "blemishes" on the moon are far larger....
    But not as blatant. Shades of gray do not detract from the perfection of a structurally flawless slab of marble.

    Sunspots are as clear as black and white!

  11. #41
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    For those who would like to learn where the old geocentric idea came from, they can read Ptolemy’s “The Almagest”. That book, along with Copernicus’ famous book, “On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres”, are usually available at used-booksellers in a single volume:

    http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/Sear...n=The+Almagest

    Of course these books were not available to everybody back in the old days, because only a very few copies of the books were available, and they were read by only a few people who were usually scholars, philosophers, and scientists.

    Here is a translation of the basic opinion Ptolemy wrote 150 A.D. This section comes right after he has already said that he thinks “The Heavens Move Spherically”, meaning, he thinks the stars, moon, and sun move in the sky around the earth every day.

    Ptolemy 1
    http://i32.tinypic.com/2m34thx.jpg

    Ptolemy 2
    http://i29.tinypic.com/21niao4.jpg

    Many old scholars accepted Ptolemy’s point of view for several hundred years. While we’ve all been taught to revere and almost worship the famous Library at Alexandria, we need to realize that some of the books that were stored in the library contained incorrect information about nature, and that information misled many future students and scientists (and some religious leaders) for hundreds of years.

    Copernicus came along later and wrote the following text, which was published in a very limited edition in 1543. There is much more to what he wrote, but these sections represent a good summary of his opinion, including his opinion about the sun being in the center of the universe, as the universe was seen from earth at that time, before the age of telescopes:

    Copernicus 1:
    http://i32.tinypic.com/20frre9.jpg

    Copernicus 2:
    http://i31.tinypic.com/2ldk7rq.jpg

    Copernicus 3:
    http://i26.tinypic.com/ap379.jpg

    Copernicus 4:
    http://i26.tinypic.com/282lumr.jpg

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam5 View Post
    Many old scholars accepted Ptolemy’s point of view for several hundred years. While we’ve all been taught to revere and almost worship the famous Library at Alexandria, we need to realize that some of the books that were stored in the library contained incorrect information about nature, and that information misled many future students and scientists (and some religious leaders) for hundreds of years.
    Aristotle is the one that gets on my nerves the most. Man did he screw it up for future generations.
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  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by crosscountry View Post
    Aristotle is the one that gets on my nerves the most. Man did he screw it up for future generations.
    Things did get out of hand, but had Aristotle himself been around in the 16th century, he probably would have agreed with Copernicus or Galileo (17th), depending how hard-headed he may have been. Many of the Church scholars favored Galileo, including the Pope, but, as I said, things got out of hand.

    The real problem was the integration of Aristotle into theology, thanks primarily to Aquinas. I don't think he should be blamed, either, due to the circumstances. The Aristotle/Ptolemy/Thomist model became dogma at a time when dogma was needed to carry a lot of abnormal weight, due to the Reformation. I think this is true, but I'm no historian on Church history.

    This history, however, is very applicable to today, except the powers are reversed; science holds the populace (Western Culture) more so than any religious group that opposes them. This makes things more difficult for them.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by crosscountry View Post
    Aristotle is the one that gets on my nerves the most. Man did he screw it up for future generations.
    It's not his fault that everybody took his word to be unquestioned (and unquestionable) Truth.

  15. #45
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    Both of you make good points, and it is true that Aristotle didn't know his ideas would hold for so long. And I suppose had he known he was wrong he would have changed.

    But there is no denying that he wanted people to believe him and even created the process of thought that was followed for so long. Actually, it may not have been the process (which we know today is seldom practical) but his conclusions alone that caused all the trouble. Once he died there were few people willing to change the dogma.



    And George, regarding the religion of today, science, it changes as needed - when new evidence comes around. We often want things to switch immediately, especially in the world we live in today. But scientific revolutions don't occur overnight, and something you may find problems with can and probably will be changed. Usually at least one generation is required, but as we say with Aristotle's ideas several centuries weren't even enough.
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  16. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptain K View Post
    It's not his fault that everybody took his word to be unquestioned (and unquestionable) Truth.
    Although I said that a lot of the science books at the Library of Alexandria were “wrong”, I didn’t mean to imply that the scientists and “philosophers” who wrote them were at fault.

    I think the big problem in the old days was simply the lack of communication, and the lack of the printing press, which meant that all books had to be hand-written and not many copies of them were available, plus, not many people could read.

    Scientists back then were often limited to only one or two other guys in the city they lived in who they could talk to about these complex and mysterious matters. And sometimes they had to travel all the way to Alexandria just to read a few books, and many of those books had been written hundreds of years earlier, and in various languages.

    So, information, ideas, and knowledge spread very slowly back in the time of the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. Plus, there were different languages and different types of written languages.

  17. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by crosscountry View Post
    But there is no denying that he wanted people to believe him and even created the process of thought that was followed for so long. Actually, it may not have been the process (which we know today is seldom practical) but his conclusions alone that caused all the trouble. Once he died there were few people willing to change the dogma.
    That's a good point. Aristotle was the man for quite a while. It took the insight of Copernicus and others to awaken to new ideas. [There were some new things that developed in the Arabian countries which carried forth the Greek works and reintroduced them to Europe around the 12th century. It was some of the Greek ideas, including heliocentricity, that Copernicus sought and found that helped his theory.]

    And George, regarding the religion of today, science, it changes as needed - when new evidence comes around. We often want things to switch immediately, especially in the world we live in today. But scientific revolutions don't occur overnight, and something you may find problems with can and probably will be changed. Usually at least one generation is required, but as we say with Aristotle's ideas several centuries weren't even enough.
    That is fair explanation of the process. Today, IMO, science has earned the respect that makes some religious claims look silly. Science could flip upside down someday, but, till then, if one weighs all the facts then reason clearly dictates that certain religious claims are extremely unlikely. They are so extreme that they are "silly", thus this impacts, sadly, how others see the validity of their entire faith.

    The Copernican Principle (someone should do a thread on this principle ) is one such scientific idea that serves as an example of what I'm saying. It is not the bigger topic in contention with religion, however.
    Last edited by George; 2008-Jun-14 at 05:17 PM. Reason: gramm
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  18. #48
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    Own a piece of heliocentrism.

    On Aristotle: I am not his biggest fan, although I would say an admirable thing about him -- well, two -- were his interest in natural science, and his encyclopedism. A lot of what we know about ancient Greek thinkers, we know through Aristotle. But, like George, I think the blind devotion to old Aristo in Galileo's day was more a symptom of the times, of the social climate during the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, than any sort of cause. People had simply become intolerant (again). Rather than looking for some historical figure we can blame it all on, we should take it as a cautionary tale.

  19. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by crosscountry View Post
    And George, regarding the religion of today, science, it changes as needed - when new evidence comes around. We often want things to switch immediately, especially in the world we live in today. But scientific revolutions don't occur overnight, and something you may find problems with can and probably will be changed. Usually at least one generation is required, but as we say with Aristotle's ideas several centuries weren't even enough.
    I'm getting a little tired of some of the changes

    Nutritional recommendations nowadays look like they have a half-life of 6.753 years, until they're reversed completely

  20. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by hhEb09'1 View Post
    Nutritional recommendations nowadays look like they have a half-life of 6.753 years, until they're reversed completely
    There can be a fine line between science and marketing.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  21. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    There can be a fine line between science and marketing.
    And a gulf

    But I was talking about things like when we gave up coffee twenty years ago because of breast tumor concerns, and now coffee is touted as something that holds off alzheimers. I think I remember studies supporting both--if I could remember who did them we could sue, if I could remember my lawyer's name.

    And don't get me started on the prone-infant/back-to-sleep flip-flop.

  22. #52
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    Yep. I wonder which round of flip-flop we're on. I think there use to be coke in Coca-cola, radioisotopes in toothpaste, mercury light switches, etc. So did the proverbial pendulum swing the other way and now its coming back.

    I'm just glad chocolate (dark chocolate) is now a good thing.
    Last edited by George; 2008-Jun-23 at 02:52 PM. Reason: spelling
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  23. #53
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    Wink Everyone is Right

    Kinematically, one could define anything as the center of the universe, even the tip of one's nose, and not be wrong. In fact, the universe is assumed not to have a physical center, so we are free to choose any point as the center of a coordinate system.

    Now if we’re talking about the solar system as a closed system, then finding its center is a different matter. First we have a linguistic problem, since the term solar system originally referred to a method for predicting the positions of planets and not the collective name for a set of objects. The term was synonymous with heliocentric system and opposed to the geocentric system.

    It turns out that if we consider the Sun to be at (or near) the center of the local neighborhood of celestial bodies, the rules (Newton called them axioms or laws) of physics as related to celestial mechanics become much simpler than if we assume the Earth is at the center. Occam's Razor advises us to go with simplicity. But at a smaller scale it’s actually simpler to consider the Earth to be the center (or even your location on it) such as when predicting the path of a cannonball. In that case, assuming the Sun is at the center of the chosen coordinate system would make the calculations ridiculously complicated.
    For astronomical graphics and data visit
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  24. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Centaur View Post
    Kinematically, one could define anything as the center of the universe, even the tip of one's nose, and not be wrong.
    Yes, GR supports this, as I understand. But this mandates that there is no absolute center, contrary to the view found in Geocenctrism. [The capital "G" refers to the absolute center tenet as opposed to geocentrism which makes no such claim.]
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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