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The Mechanical Universe by Tom M. Apostol, Richard P. Olenick, Steven C. Frautschi

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CHAPTER 2THE LAW OF FALLING BODIES

    (Natural) philosophy is written in this enormous book, which is continuously open before our eyes (I mean the universe) but it cannot be understood without first learning to understand the language, and to recognize the characters in which it is written. It is written in a mathematical language. …

    Galileo Galilei, II Saggiatore (1623)

2.1 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Before we learned to read Galileo’s mathematical book of the universe, our descriptions of nature were qualitative and verbal. For centuries, only words were used to describe the motion of objects, and those words were largely based upon the writings of Aristotle from the fourth century B.C. Aristotle’s description of motion centered on the idea ...

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