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Pioneers of Science

Sir Oliver Lodge

Book Overview: 

This book takes its origin in a course of lectures on the history and progress of Astronomy arranged for Sir Oliver Lodge. The first part of this book is devoted to the biographies and discoveries of well known astronomers like Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo and Newton. In the second part, the biographies take a back seat, while scientific discoveries are discussed more extensively, like the discovery of Asteroids and Neptune, a treatise on the tides and others.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ces is proportional to the square of the corresponding times. In other words, the ratio of r3 to T2 for every planet is the same. Or, again, the length of a planet's year depends on the 3⁄2th power of its distance from the sun. Or, once more, the speed of each planet in its orbit is as the inverse square-root of its distance from the sun. The product of the distance into the square of the speed is the same for each planet.

This (however stated) is called Kepler's third law. It welds the planets together, and shows them to be one system. His rapture on detecting the law was unbounded, and he breaks out into an exulting rhapsody:—

"What I prophesied two-and-twenty years ago, as soon as I discovered the five solids among the heavenly orbits—what I firmly believed long before I had seen Ptolemy's Harmonies—what I had promised my friends in the title of this book, which I named before I was sure of my discovery—what sixteen years. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This is a fun and generally quite accessible summary of some of history's greatest men of science, and the most significant discoveries within their fields. Lodge's approach towards the regrettably, but inevitably thorny relationship between science and the Catholic Church in the Early Modern Period