SR-16-Kepler-math - — lay bare the true physical...

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Johannes Kepler and his mathematical vision Johannes Kepler (1571–1630, German); while a student at the University of Tübingen, he was won over to Copernicanism by astronomer Michael Maestlin (1550–1631). 1595 — Kepler noticed that the spheres of the six Copernican planetary orbits (nearly) fit within or around the five perfect Platonic solids; formulated his theory of ‘ nested polyhedra .’ Kepler saw this as a deep link between abstract geometry and the real structure of universe; wrote it up in explicitly pro-Copernican book, Mysterium Cosmographicum (1596). Was this a good theory? What should a good scientific theory try to do? — simply codify observed regularities?
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Unformatted text preview: — lay bare the true physical mechanism of Nature? — penetrate to a deeper (perhaps mathematical) level of reality? Is the natural world intelligible to our minds? — Nominalists (positivists) say no; we can really only catalog outward appearances. — Mechanists say yes, but only because the world is ultimately just a machine. — ‘Pythagoreans’ say yes, because God built the world on mathematical patterns and gave us minds capable of grasping those patterns—and thus sharing God’s thoughts. To test his theory, Kepler needed the best measurements of planetary positions. In 1600 he went to work for Tycho at Prague; later succeeded him as Imperial Astronomer....
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