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Guiding Questions: Foundations of Science Module #4 An Ancient History and Philosophy of Science Overview: In the lecture we will be studying the history of science starting with ancient Greece. In the reading we will also be considering the ideas of the Greek thinkers but the texts we are using actually begin a discussion of the history of science starting with time period of 1500- 1600. The first practitioners of science who lived during this time were heavily influenced by Greek thinkers and theology. Interestingly both of the texts you will read for this module begin with the story of Copernicus. This is an interesting story because it is often portrayed as a battle between faith and science. Reading: Gribbin chapter 1 Pearcey chapters 1-3 Gribbin, chapter 1, Renaissance Men (pages 1-18 only) 1 What is the time period of the Dark Ages? Of the Middle Ages? Roughly, the Dark Ages were from 400-900 AD, the Middle Ages from 900-1400 AD. 2 Why were the people of the Middle Ages in awe of the Ancients? The architecture and writings left by them seemed immensely complex and far beyond the understanding of the people living in that time. 3 In what way was Copernicus like the ancient Greeks? What is a thought experiment? He was like the ancient Greeks in that he didn’t do experiments or make observations, he simply had ideas that he though more plausible and unlikely to be tested. A thought experiment is the testing out of a theory in the mind to see the plausibility of it. 4 Who was Ptolemy? What is the Ptolemaic system? What is an epicycle? Ptolemy was a Greek astronomer from Alexandria who compiled the Greek knowledge of astronomy into a single source. His system involved moving the planets, stars and sun in perfect circles around earth which sat at the center of the universe. An epicycle is the circular motion of a planet while it follows its orbital path, an orbit within an orbit. 5 Where was the earth placed in the Ptolemaic system? Why was it “common sense” to think the earth was at the center of things? It was placed at the center of the universe. It was common sense because the solid earth could not possibly move. 6 What two “specific triggers” caused Copernicus to come up with something different from the Ptolemaic model? First, every planet needed its own cycles and epicycles, there was no theory that covered all the movements of the planets. Second, the off setting of the moon’s orbit to account for the different speed at which it moved across the sky should have brought the moon observably closer to the earth at certain times.
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7 Why did the Lutheran minister Osiander who wrote a preface to Copernicuses’ text the First Account down-play Copernicuses model? Why is Osiander’s view in keeping with the modern scientific view? He was worried about the objections of both the Reformed and Catholic churches about the earth
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course LS 200 taught by Professor Dr.fraisier during the Spring '08 term at Masters CA.

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