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Geocentric model: how long was it taught in universities?

  1. Dec 23, 2015 #1
    I have a historical question which I'm not finding any reference for. I recall how my former professor of history of science told us that the geocentric model was still taught for about a century in the accademia, long after Galileo's discovery of the phases of Venus and long after the heliocentric model became an established fact. I'm curious to know more about this. Can someone point me to some historical research or some reference that describes this?
     
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  3. Dec 23, 2015 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    Just look up the history of heliocentricism - you can easily establish the timeline from that.
     
  4. Dec 23, 2015 #3
    I did. Never found something about how long geocentrism was taught in academia.
     
  5. Dec 24, 2015 #4

    Simon Bridge

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    So when was the first University?
    What were the main events in heliocentricism?
    You only need to confirm or refute your profs general timeframe not get exact dates.
     
  6. Dec 28, 2015 #5
  7. Dec 28, 2015 #6

    Ken G

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    Can you summarize it? It's behind a pay wall. I'd like to hear the answer to your question also, it is a good question because we often imagine that "scientific inertia" is near zero, but they may not always be true.
     
  8. Dec 28, 2015 #7

    marcus

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    Ken G, here is a version outside paywall (scroll to page 72) for educational purposes, somebody at FSU has it.
    http://www.hep.fsu.edu/~wahl/artic/SA/mag/2014/201401.pdf [Broken]
    Example---if annual parallax cannot be detected, the stars must be very far away. We can gauge their angular size. If they are very far away they must be inconceivably large--huge. Copernicans were forced to argue that this is possible due to God's omnipotence. Being God, H e could make such huge objects and place them at such vast distance. But this was greeted with skepticism.
    Here is a brief excerpt at the end:
    ==quote SciAm article by Dennis Danielson and Christopher M. Graney==
    ...in the middle of the 1600s, well after the deaths of pioneers such as Copernicus, Brahe and Galileo, Italian astronomer Giovanni Battista Riccioli published an encyclopedic assessment of cosmological options that he called (after Ptolemy’s great work) the Almagestum Novum. Riccioli weighed many arguments for and against the Copernican system, arguments dealing with matters of astronomy, physics and religion. But Riccioli judged that two main arguments tipped the balance decisively against Copernicus. Both were based on scientific objections. Both were rooted in Brahe’s ideas. Neither would be answered decisively until some hundreds of years later.
    One argument was based on the inability to detect certain effects that Riccioli said a rotating planet should produce in projectiles and falling bodies. Brahe had felt that a rotating Earth should deflect a projectile away from a straight path. Yet these detections would not be observed until the 19th century, when French scientist Gaspard- Gustave de Coriolis worked out a full mathematical description of such effects.

    The other argument was the one Brahe had made about star size, which Riccioli updated with telescopic observations. (Brahe had worked without a telescope.) Having designed a repeatable procedure for measuring the diameters of stars, he found that stars looked smaller than Brahe thought. Yet the telescope also increased the sensitivity to annual parallax, which still had not been detected, implying that the stars had to be even farther away than Brahe had assumed. The net effect was that stars still had to be every bit as titanic as Brahe had said.

    [[Rather than give up their theory in the face of seemingly incontrovertible evidence, Copernicans were forced to appeal to divine omnipotence.]]

    Riccioli complained about the Copernicans appealing to divine omnipotence to get around this scientific problem. A Jesuit priest, Riccioli could hardly deny the power of God. But still he rejected this approach, saying, “Even if this falsehood cannot be refuted, nevertheless it cannot satisfy the more prudent men.”

    The acceptance of Copernicanism was thus held back by a lack of hard scientific evidence to confirm its almost incredible claims about cosmic and stellar magnitudes. In 1674 Robert Hooke, curator of experiments for the British Royal Society, admitted, “Whether the Earth move or stand still hath been a problem, that since Copernicus revived it, hath much exercised the wits of our best modern astronomers and philosophers, amongst which notwithstanding there hath not been any one who hath found out a certain manifestation either of the one or the other.”

    By Hooke’s time a growing majority of scientists accepted Copernicanism, al- though, to a degree, they still did so in the face of scientific difficulties. Nobody convincingly recorded the annual stellar parallax until Friedrich Bessel did it in 1838. Around that same time, George Airy produced the first full theoretical explanation for why stars appear to be wider than they are, and Ferdinand Reich first successfully detected the deflection of falling bodies induced by Earth’s rotation. Also, of course, Isaac Newton’s physics—which did not work with Brahe’s system—had long since provided an explanation of how Brahe’s “hulking, lazy” Earth could move.

    Back in Galileo’s and Riccioli’s day, however, those opposed to Copernicanism had some quite respectable, coherent, observationally based science on their side. ...
    ==endquote==
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  9. Dec 29, 2015 #8

    Ken G

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    It's interesting that Brahe's views, now no more than a footnote in the Ptolemy vs. Copernicus domination of that debate, had a significant period of being taken quite seriously. As for the colossal sizes of stars, I always wondered why the "stars are suns" unifying view did not hold more sway!
     
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