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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Science: Advancing by Hardcore Materialism for Over 400 Years!

One of my favorite history of science stories was told to me by John Milton -- no, not that John Milton, this one, who taught me history of science at King's College -- about Kepler. One of the reasons Kepler was happy to find his elliptical orbits for the planets was that in the system of both Copernicus and Ptolemy, the planets, to match observations, actually had to circle not the sun, but an empty point in space somewhat near the sun. When Kepler was able to put the sun at one of the focal points of a planet's elliptical orbit, he was quite pleased, for how, he asked, were the angelic intelligences steering the planets through space supposed to orient themselves around an empty point?

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