October 4, 2022
Tuesdays, 11:30 am - 1:30 pm PT
This course will trace the development of man’s understanding of motion and gravitation, starting with the earliest astronomical observations of pre-Greek civilizations, and culminating in the achievements of Isaac Newton. How did mankind progress from a state of total ignorance about the stars, planets, Sun, and Moon to our first scientific understanding of these bodies and the laws that govern their behavior? No prerequisites or background in physics are required.
Readings and Resources:
- Texts (Kindle or paperback editions are acceptable):
- Recommended Background Material:
- H. A. Rey, The Stars: A New Way to See Them
- Part One: “Shapes in the Sky,” pp. 9-24
- Rey, The Stars: A New Way to See Them,
First sections of Part Four: “Some Whys and Hows”
- Start of Part Four through “Pole Star and Latitude”
- Pages 108-117 of print edition.
Note: Ignore what Rey says about “the apparent motion of the sky as a whole as well as the real motion of the earth around itself and around the Sun.” Not sure where he got the crazy notion that the earth moves, but of course, everyone knows that the earth is motionless at the center of the universe and the stars and planets (including the Sun and Moon) revolve around the earth. Obviously!
Listen to the first few lectures of LP History of Philosophy.
Lectures, 2, 3, 4, 5
Lectures 1, 6, beyond through Plato and Aristotle
Describe in your own words the cause of the phases of the moon. I.e., why do we see the moon go through its monthly cycle of phases? Think, in particular, about what we know about the nature of the moon that would not necessarily have been known to pre-Greek civilizations. If you want to include your own drawing to illustrate your explanation, feel free to do so (whether a digital drawing or a scan or photo of something hand-drawn). Maximum word count: 400
Deadline: Sunday, Oct. 9, end of day your local time