Manual Speculative Truth: Henry Cavendish, Natural Philosophy, and the Rise of Modern Theoretical Science

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Modern Physics and Ancient Faith. Stephen M. From Galileo to Newton. Rupert Hall. Truth and Beauty. Makers of Mathematics. Stuart Hollingdale. Science and Hypothesis. Great Scientific Experiments. Rom Harre. A History of the Electron. Jaume Navarro.

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The Cambridge Companion to Newton. Professor Rob Iliffe. Observing by Hand. Omar W. Find a Hotter Place! Ludwik Marian Celnikier.

Theory of Everything: The Universal Principle of Natural Philosophy

Ultimate Explanations of the Universe. Michael Heller. Russell McCormmach. The Second Physicist. Christa Jungnickel. Weighing the World.

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How to write a great review. The review must be at least 50 characters long. The title should be at least 4 characters long. Your display name should be at least 2 characters long. At Kobo, we try to ensure that published reviews do not contain rude or profane language, spoilers, or any of our reviewer's personal information. The main function of language is communication, the transfer of feelings, thought and skills by means of symbols and metaphors.

Another function is the preservation of scientific knowledge and its transfer to later generations, the historical formation of the collective memory of mankind, mostly in written texts. Both private and public libraries have contributed significantly to this function. Since the 17th century, scientific communication [47] occurs at different levels: between specialists on the same subject; between specialist and non-specialist scientists; between scientists and non-scientists; and in the didactic communication between a teacher and their students.

Each has specific requirements with respect to the use of language.

At the first level, communication took place in Latin, by means of books and letters. The distribution of books was much better organized than during the Middle Ages, thanks to the invention of movable type printing in the 15th century. But the number of copies of each printed book was relatively small, not more than a few hundred copies every edition. Copyright did not exist, and often books were reprinted without permission of the author or the first publisher.

Nevertheless, he indicates which parts of the book can be omitted at first reading. Opticks is a far less technical work, and was initially written in English, later also in Latin. Another channel of communication was the exchange of letters — by Kepler and Galileo, by Descartes and Mersenne, by Newton and Bentley, by Clarke and Leibniz. Often, these letters were copied several times, and many of these have been preserved and form an impressive source of knowledge about 17th-century science. The second level is very important to make the results of one specialization available to the others.

If this does not function satisfactorily, the network character of theories is endangered, and stagnation may follow.

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A novelty was the introduction of scientific journals, for instance, the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society at London. Nowadays many of these journals have a specialist character and hence belong to the first category. But in the 17th century their aim was to inform non-specialists of the proceedings of science.

Initially most papers were written in Latin, but gradually Latin had to give way to the common languages: Italian, French, English, Dutch, and German.

Speculative Truth: Henry Cavendish, Natural Philosophy and the Rise of Modern Theoretical Science

At the third level, especially Galileo did pioneering work, by writing his most influential book in colloquial Italian, in such a style that it was readable by non-scientists, that is, for an intelligent public. In the Netherlands, Galileo was preceded by Simon Stevin, who pleaded for writing scientific works in common language in a comprehensible way. According to Stevin,. An example is his Weeghconst The art of weighing, , a book about mechanics. After Galileo, Descartes wrote his influential Discourse on method in French.

His scientific work is Meditationes de prima philosophia and Principia philosophiae , both written in Latin, though the latter was shortly afterwards translated into French. Except for Galileo, no leading scientist of the 17th century wrote really popular works, leaving that to their disciples, usually scholars of high quality but lesser creativity.

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Thus Rohault popularized Descartes. The popularization of scientific results strongly influenced the common world view. The Western world view has changed radically since the Copernican revolution, though it took a long time before the idea of a moving earth became commonly accepted. In the 17th century even the majority of the learned remained convinced of the geocentric world view, and discussions about the validity of the heliocentric system continued deep into the 18th century.

At the didactic level, pupils must be introduced to the science they want to learn. It is a didactic aim to clarify theories, to make students understand them. Because a theory is an instrument, for instance to solve problems, the use of a theory must be exercised, such that the mastering of the language used is enlarged. On the one hand, a student learns to apply his own language to new problems, and on the other hand he extends his language, by learning and applying new words and expressions.