Sunday, March 2, 2008

What Hold The Universe Together?

One of us knew a young man who owned a pocket watch, which he would habitually twirl, holding the end of the chain and allowing it to orbit around the focus of his finger. One day, the chain broke, sending the costly timepiece flying off into space—and against a wall, with predictably catastrophic results.

Why don’t the planets suffer the same fate?
Despite his brilliant explanation of planetary motion, Kepler had not explained how the planets orbited the sun without flying off into space, and why they traveled in ellipses.
The answer came in the late seventeenth century when an Englishman, Isaac Newton (1642–1727), one of the most brilliant mathematicians who ever lived, formulated three laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation in a great work, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), better known simply as Principia.

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