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5 April 2010

My Essay (Part III) - Galileo to Newton

Newton's Principia, with his actual pen-strokes on correction.

Galileo not just only discovered there are other moons on other planet. He also proposed that all things move due to acceleration of gravity. This was demonstrated by Galileo, as rumour has it, was done at the top of the Pisa tower when he dropped two balls, one ball made of iron and the other made of wood. The result is that both balls of the same size dropped at the same time landed on the floor together at the same time suggest that different weight does not affect the speed of the balls. Another experiment was he put a ball on an incline plane and let it roll from the top to the bottom and he found that the ball is moving faster and faster. We call it accelerating. So the question is what drives the ball to accelerate?

The legacy of Galileo was indeed profound and it made an impact as how science is done. As quoted from physicist Leon Lederman’s book: The God Particle

“For our purposes, he (Galileo) was a physicist, and a great one, far beyond his advocacy of Copernicanism. He broke new grounds in many fields. He blended experiments and mathematic thinking. When an object moves, he said it’s important to quantify its motion with mathematical equation. He always asked “how do things move? How? How?” But he didn’t ask “Why? Why is the ball falling?” He was aware that he was just describing motion, a difficult enough task for his time.”

Galileo didn’t mention that why the ball is falling, and that needed another great mind to solve the puzzle. Enter Isaac Newton. Sir Isaac Newton is perhaps one of the greatest minds of all time. He revolutionised the way we see how objects move and he literally created a new branch of mathematics for it. In 1687, Newton published the celebrated “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica” which is perhaps the single most important work ever published in physical sciences.

In the seminal masterpiece, Newton described how everything in this universe worked – Force. In the papers were three immutable laws that describe all motions in the universe. Suddenly, the universe became a measureable, definite clockwork. The first law was the concept of inertia, which is a fancy word that simply means: an object does not move or moves in a constant velocity until an external force acts on it. This is particularly useful in your life when you tried to get your ketchup conveniently by hitting at the bottom end of the bottle repeatedly, the sudden force acting on the bottle propel the sauce out from its bottle. The second law is quite simply F = MA. It’s a simple mathematical relation. Let’s read it out loud; “Eff equals to Emm Ayy”. What that means was the force is equal to the product of the mass and the acceleration of the object. The third law is better. It says that when a force is exerted on an object, the object exerts the same force back on the opposite direction. (Every action there’s a reaction). So next time if someone bitch-slapped you, don’t bother. Because your face already slapped that person’s hand on that painful moment! (You felt pain more due to the more pain receptors on the surface of your cheek than the slapping palm)


Anonymous said...

Mr Physicist, as a fellow scientist, i can safely and surely comment that your scientific mind is muddled (or should i say, occupied) with an external force. Your third installment of your "My Essay" series seems to have more, 'spunk', 'attitude' and confidence. Very different from your usual tone. You are a unique physicist. Perhaps your book will be more for the laymen than Mr Hawkings' could ever be.

Andrew C. said...

definitely! It was never meant to be "academic" in the first place.

Just a place where I *think* I could write to provide a rough picture of how this all are patched up - to the what we so-called science.

I'll appreciate if you'd pm me your contact. I think I have much to learn from you. :)

Anonymous said...

Dreadfully sorry to have assumed your blog to be otherwise. i will now wait for the next chapter of your essay with a different view. i'm afraid that i have little to offer for you to learn from, mrPhysicist. It is hard to even imagine what you could possibly wish to harvest from me.

Andrew C. said...


As I too assume you possess much knowledge and experience in Physics, especially in the aspects of academics than myself.

In addition, I would have to confess your mystique, interest me.

Anonymous said...

Dear mrPhysicist,
If it is academic experience that you wish i share, then it is only fair that i warn you, that is negotiating the cessation of my admiration. For a star by any name is a star, however, your matter is yet to be decided and should not be tainted by any force, pull or gravity. I am disinclined to acquiesce to your request.

p.s: a scientist never assume, we hypothesise.

Andrew C. said...

Perfectly understood on the circumstances.

Though I must admit the thought I have - wandering why are you still reading this blog if it must have been strange following so many a post for its content so superficial to you.

At my logic, completely incomprehensible as to why you're even admiring it.

Anonymous said...

you must learn to pay attention mrPhysicist. i left no remark indicating your blog is superficial. If you wish for me to quantify and put my admiration into logic, i would say, "observations of the cosmos force us to reconsider our understanding of the universe." Perhaps observations of a blog leaves trails of the author's person.

Andrew C. said...

Hmm. Intriguing..