Wednesday, March 19, 2014

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Why does the earth rotate ? Science has made precious little progress since 1350

More sci-fi than science in modern explanations.

by Ferdinand III

Christian scholastics from the 13th and 14th centuries sound more scientific than our modern big-brains on many topics, one being the question; why does the earth rotate at 1000 miles per hour ? Have you ever heard a convincing reason ? The medieval explanation for the earth's rotation, premised on debates which began sometime in the early 14th century at the University of Paris and elsewhere, attempted to use higher mathematics, logic, and naturalist observations to explain if, how, and why the earth rotates. Today it appears that 'science' has largely given up on this tradition of trying to understand how and why the earth rotates, falling back as usual, on worn-out 'evolutionary' themes and memes. No math, no science. From NASA, the institute non-pareil of naturalist theological 'reasoning' makes the following claim about the earth's rotation:

Why do Earth and the other planets rotate at all? It will help to understand how our solar system formed. Almost five billion years ago, our solar system had its beginnings as a vast cloud of dust and gas. The cloud began to collapse, flattening into a giant disk that rotated faster and faster, just as an ice skater spins faster as she brings her arms in. The Sun formed at the center, and the swirling gas and dust in the rest of the spinning disk clumped together to produce the planets, moons, asteroids, and comets. The reason so many objects orbit the Sun in nearly the same plane (called the ecliptic) and in the same direction is that they all formed from this same disk.

While the planets were forming, there was not much peace in our solar system. Clumps of matter of all sizes often collided, and either stuck together or side-swiped each other, knocking off pieces and sending each other spinning. Sometimes the gravity of big objects would capture smaller ones in orbit. This could be one way the planets acquired their moons.” NASA

This is not science, but science-fiction. There are as many questions embedded in the above summary as there are sentences of opacity and innuendo. From NASA the modern explanation is as follows:

-The Big Bang occurred and the chaos formed vast clouds of dust and gas.

-This cloud magically 'collapsed' [don't all outward rushing chaos-driven particles in a vacuum just suddenly stop and collapse ?]; forming a fast-spinning flat disk.

-Planets somehow formed from this chaos and driven by the rotating 'flat disk' began an endless orbit around the Sun or ecliptical.

-Collisons were common and moons were formed from such cosmic traffic accidents.

-Spinning spheres magically rotate for 5 billion years.....what happened to the law of entropy?

Nothing in NASA's summary tells a thing about the origins of the rotation of the earth and why after 4 or 5 billion years it still spins. Cause and effect? Motive force? Nothing. NASA does helpfully add that Mars crashed into Earth and likely increased the original rotational speed. Thanks NASA.

Many other 'scientific' theories exist but they sound like a used-car sales pitch from Stephen Hawking.

In 1340 Catholic Priest Jean Buridan most likely influenced by many others, wrote on the projectile motion, falling bodies, and the rotation of the earth. Without Buridan and the Scholastics there is likely no Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo or Newton. Buridan tore apart the static, immobile earth of Aristotle and tried to prove and measure why and how the earth rotated. Buridan explained celestial motion using impetus or force theory, something Aristotle had rejected:

" who wishes to jump a long distance drops back a way in order to run faster, so that by running he might acquire an impetus which would carry him a longer distance in the jump. Whence the person so running and jumping does not feel the air moving him, but rather feels the air in front strongly resisting him."

This impetus theory is still with us today. According to Buridan and restated in Newtonian physics, celestial bodies did not suffer resistance in the celestial vacuum, which would repress or distort that impetus. Buridan anticipates Newton's First Law of Motion. He does not however, [nor has anyone else], uncovered the 'original' impetus. What caused the effect of spinning in the first place ?

Nicholas of Oresme followed Buridan, taught in Paris and died as bishop of Lisieux in 1382. Oresme investigated the daily rotation of the earth. The common objection to the idea that the earth moved or rotated, was premised on Aristotelian 'laws' which stated that if you dropped 2 stones from a tower, the first dropped did not fall behind the second. Hence it appears that the earth is immobile as stated by Aristotle. Oresme's answer to this objection was simply to use Buridan's theories. The earth's rotation was imparted to bodies and was kept undiminished by them. This is exactly the same theme taken up by Copernicus.

According to historian Copleston:

"He discovered, for example, that the distance traveled by a body moving with a uniformly increasing velocity is equal to the distance traveled in the same time by a body moving with a uniform velocity equal to the velocity attained by the first body in the middle instant of its course. Moreover, in order to express these and similar successive variations of intensity in a manner which would facilitate understanding and comparison, Nicholas conceived the idea of representing them by rectangular co-ordinates, that is to say, by means of graphs."

The above was a highly significant advance in science and the physics of motion. Without it there is no Galileo or Copernicus.

Thomas Kuhn a noted historian of science wrote:

"Jean Buridan and Nicole Oresme, the fourteenth-century scholastics who brought the impetus theory to its most perfect formulations, are the first men known to have seen in oscillatory motions any part of what Galileo saw there."

In effect the NASA-mainstream science explanation as to why the earth rotates, is Buridan's and Oresme's from c. 1350. The impetus described by these two Christians is now attributed to the Big Bang, a theory that is far from proven and is riven with problems and issues. In fact the Big Bang is so unproven that calling it scientific is pointless. In other words, as far as 'why does the earth rotate' little progress beyond story-telling, has been made in 650 years.