Saturday, January 14, 2012


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One of the main problems for Aristotle’s view of an immobile earth is that of planetary retrogression. Within the ‘Two Sphere Universe’ view, the approximation is that the aether sphere is perfect in matter and in motion.

Aether is said to have a uniform movement and does not deviate from its natural motion. Aristotle’s other theories of violent and constrained motion (his rudimentary physics), rely on this view of aether being perfect. Historically, his view was widely held creditable by the astronomical community at the time. Within this aether substance, were stars that were fixed points of pure aether, and moving stars which we now know as the planets. In the centuries leading up to Aristotle’s time, Babylonian astronomers recorded observations of the Planets and there existed a pattern to which these wandering stars adhered to (Kuhn p47). This was also considered to be Uniform and perfect motion in Aristotle’s theory as they supposedly were in the aether sphere, and therefore perfect.

However the ‘wandering stars’ did not have a uniform motion, as they would require if they were indeed within this ‘aether region’. Through observation, it was found that the moving stars almost always moved east with the fixed stars in their natural motion, however on occasion, retrograded west against the ‘flow’ of the stars (Kuhn p51). What could explain this? How could Aristotle’s view’s on the two sphere universe, be substantiated when such an abnormality existed. Eudoxes, created a mathematical theory to explain this apparent abnormality � the theory of homocentric spheres. This supported Aristotle to a degree, but could not explain the difference in light from each different wandering star. The change of light indicated a change in distance, and therefore an orbit which deviated in distance. This abnormality of the planet’s paths indicates that the earth could not be immobile in a perfect two sphere universe. Clearly the perfect aether would not allow for such a discrepancy in movement, even when taking into consideration their natural movement and the fact that they would eventually return to it. Also, the light from the stars changing so greatly (in particular Mars) is evidence enough to suggest a change in distance also.

Another problem with Aristotles view of Earth being immobile at the centre of the universe is the fact that the axis of the celestial sphere varied slightly over time. In a full 6,000 year period, the Northern celestial pole made a full rotation. Aristotle’s view on the apparent perfection of aether again comes into consternation from this point as does uniform circular motion. If the solid spheres of aether moved in perfect harmony, (as their natural way was to do) how could this imperfection of the northern celestial sphere be explained?

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Aristotle was a revolutionary in astronomical thinking. He applied all areas of science to his work, and succeeded to build many creditable theories at the time. However the above evidence, available at the time of Aristotle clearly refutes his theory of an immobile earth at the centre of the universe. The evidence suggests that the planets do not uniformly orbit the Earth and that the earth is in fact not the centre of the universe.

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