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I Theories of gravity in history

  1. May 3, 2017 #1
    As I understand Aristotle believed that gravity was caused by certain objects trying to find the centre of the universe which was of course at the centre of the Earth.
    Newton gave us a better theory of gravity, but there were heliocentric philosophers before Newton. Not just Copernicus , Galileo and Kepler but going as far back as Aristarchus. So how did they explain gravity if Earth was not the centre?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 3, 2017 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    They didn't. That's not a failure on their part - there are always unsolved problems at the edge of even the best theories, and that was one of their unsolved problems.

    It's worth noting that the geocentric crowd didn't have an explanation of gravity either. It's just that in a geocentric view a mysterious force pulling things towards the center of the earth is mysterious but not also offensive to our sense of symmetry, whereas in a non-geocentric view the the force is both mysterious and offensive to our sense of symmetry. It's not an accident that Newton's theory is often described as the the law of UNIVERSAL gravitation; and much of its aesthetic appeal comes because its universal nature recovers the symmetry that was lost when we abandoned the geocentric view.
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