To continue the discussion of the last article, we take another look at astronomy. There has been a fight between geocentricity and heliocentricity, but that is too compact a summary. Consider the following elaboration:
(An expansion from Polyscience and Christianity, pages 77, 133 and 336.)
Philolaus’s fire-centric system of invisible counter-earth, central fire, earth, moon, sun, and then the other five planets seems to be the earliest recorded system. (Reported by Stobaeus and Aristotle [in Metaphysics and On the Heavens].) Philolaus was a second generation Pythagorean. But Pythagoras is said to have believed in geocentricity.
Plato’s geocentric system – reported on in his Timaeus. Only circular motion was allowed.
Aristotle tried to “physicalize” this circular system by utilizing crystalline spheres and rollers.
Centuries later, Ptolemy (of Alexandria, Egypt) tried to “save the appearances” with his mathematical system of circles, equants and epicycles. He called it a “calculating fiction.” He seems to have had a touch of atheorism!
Aristarchus’s heliocentric system. (Few details are available.) His system is actually to be dated between those of Aristotle and Ptolemy.
Nicholas Copernicus’s heliocentric system of 1453 AD. This retained many of the circles, epicycles and equants of Ptolemy’s system, but added epicyclets. An early note Copernicus wrote said that he could reduce the number of epicycles to 32 from the 40 in Ptolemy’s system, but his book actually had 48 epicycles. This is the system that Galileo defended.
Tycho Brahe developed a modified geocentric system. The earth was in the center, but the planets revolved around the sun – which revolved around the earth. It retained the circles, equants and epicycles of Ptolemy
Johannes Kepler’s heliocentric system replaced the circles, equants and epicycles with ellipses. (This “improvement” was later added to the system of Tycho Brahe.)
Isaac Newton’s heliocentric system was Kepler’s elliptical system, but with new laws.
Ernst Mach’s x?centric system was Newton’s, but recognized that Newton’s formula for gravity should be extended to be F = k x (M1 x M2 x M3) / D2, where M3 represents the mass of the universe!
Albert Einstein’s heliocentric system began as identical to Newton’s system. Its original 1905 formulation (special relativity) was developed to solve some electromagnetic perplexities that had occurred over the years, particularly the discordant results of the 1887 Michelson – Morely experiment to detect the “universal” aether. Yet his 1915 formulation (general relativity), with its proclamation of the absence of absolute motion, (only differential motion is ascertainable), destroyed the logical basis of heliocentricity. His system is now recognized as acentric.*
Saturnian model of the Electric Universe group. The Saturnian configuration is said to have been destroyed about 1,500 BC and the planetary system “quickly” reorganized itself into the present heliocentric system. This was an observed historical event! Thus, gravity has to be reformulated to acknowledge the power of electrical interactions in the universe. After all, the coulomb force of electric charge is 1039 stronger than gravity. Perhaps not a safe force to ignore. (Only recently has plasma been recognized as the fourth state of matter, alongside liquid, solid and gas.) Perhaps they will modernize Newton’s Law beyond that proposed by Mach, and introduce the voltage differential between objects.
This accounting gives thirteen ways to “save the appearances.” Which provides depth perception?
The present acentric consensus provides no physical reason for any physical arguments for any of the systems. But rational thought is undeterred! So acentric thought acquires an acritical attitude.
No wonder philosophers of science say something like, “I have written a large book on science, but, in a few words, I cannot say what science is, except that it has no recent ex nihilo creation.” Long live acentric acritical thinking.
Is this a hint that elite education is consistent, but wrong?
So, the Knowledge Acquisition Spectrum has good reasons to draw a distinction between theory-free knowledge and theories. Be wary of the mesmerizing effect of Mathematical Determinism!
* Is this really the present consensus? Let us ask some expert participants for clarification:
In The Evolution of Physics, by Einstein and Infield, Einstein states “Since the time of Copernicus we have known that the earth rotates on its axis and moves around the sun. Even this simple idea, so clear to everyone, was not left untouched by the advance of science. But let us leave this question for the time being and accept Copernicus’ point of view.” (p161) He then shows how the Copernican Hypothesis proves that his relativity is true. After we believe him, he goes on to explain his General Relativity. Then he contradicts his entire approach by adding: “The struggle, so violent in the early days of science, between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then be quite meaningless. Either CS [coordinate system] could be used with equal justification. The two sentences, ‘the sun is at rest and the earth moves,’ or ‘the sun moves and the earth is at rest,’ would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS.” (p224)
In Astronomy and Cosmology, a textbook written by the astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle, he wrote “In describing their relative motions, it makes no difference whether we consider the Earth to move around the Sun, or the Sun to move around the Earth.” (p7-8) Then: “We now know that the difference between a heliocentric theory and a geocentric theory is one of relative motion only, and that such a difference has no physical significance.” (p 416)
These acentric acritical (absolutely relative) statements are not isolated comments.