University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Friday, March 31st 2017
Subject: Author Meets Readers: David M. Miller's "Representing Space in the Scientific Revolution"
Refreshments served at 3:25 p.m.

Readers:

Katherine Brading, Philosophy, University of Notre Dame

Samuel Fletcher, Philosophy, University of Minnesota

Edward Slowik, Philosophy, Winona State University

Abstract: The novel understanding of the physical world that characterized the Scientific Revolution depended on a fundamental shift in the way its protagonists understood and described space. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, spatial phenomena were described in relation to a presupposed central point; by its end, space had become a centerless void in which phenomena could only be described by reference to arbitrary orientations. David Marshall Miller examines both the historical and philosophical aspects of this far-reaching development, including the rejection of the idea of heavenly spheres, the advent of rectilinear inertia, and the theoretical contributions of Copernicus, Gilbert, Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, and Newton. His rich study shows clearly how the centered Aristotelian cosmos became the oriented Newtonian universe, and will be of great interest to students and scholars of the history and philosophy of science.

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