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The Rise and Fall of the Mechanical World View

  • Stanley Goldberg

Abstract

We will Examine, in this chapter, the development of Newtonian mechanics and how it related to the earlier work of Galileo as well as how it synthesized our understanding of the physical world, first by removing the distinction between phenomena on the earth and phenomena in the heavens. Later Newtonian mechanics underlay the view that all physical phenomena would be understood in mechanical terms. This view, referred to as the mechanical world view, incorporated the hope that Newton’s laws would become the basis for explaining everything, not only the physics of motion, the physics of heat, electricity, magnetism, and light, and also chemistry, geology and biology, including the workings of the body, genetics, the working of the nervous system and the way the brain and the emotions function; everything was to be understood in mechanical terms. This program, which emerged at the end of the Enlightenment, was not successful in practice. It was during the attempts to modify it, near the end of the nineteenth century, by replacing mechanical interactions with electrical interactions as the basis for understanding the universe, that the theory of relativity emerged, simultaneously with growing skepticism about a unified account of the universe.

Keywords

Inertial Frame Relative Speed Newtonian Mechanic Transformation Equation Natural Philosopher 
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References

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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Boston, Inc. 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stanley Goldberg

There are no affiliations available

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