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Galileo was Close

  1. Sep 28, 2014 #1
    One of the many earth-shattering discoveries Galileo made (after lots of rumination, I've concluded he's a tie with Newton as my favorite all time smart guy)...was the fact that a pendulum's period is independent of its excursion.

    Actually, this is true only for small levels of swing, as what Galileo observed with the swinging chandelier in the cathedral. Upon further extrapolation, we find that there are a lot of higher order terms that make this a rather non linear function.

    But this demonstrates a principle a lot of us forget. Sometimes CLOSE is more than good enough to make some tremendous discoveries. Likewise, Newton's laws, while recently proven to be incomplete, are still 99% good enough for nearly everything we observe in daily life. They represented a quantum leap in understanding, with only minor refinements in the "modern" era.

    We need to be careful to avoid "straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel," to wax Biblical. I think there are still some fundamental discoveries to be made that are just as profound as Newton's laws. But they may not be where we're currently looking.

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 28, 2014 #2


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    Since this is more philosophy than physics, thread locked.
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