PhilSci Archive

How Galileo dropped the ball and Fermat picked it up

Roberts, Bryan W. (2009) How Galileo dropped the ball and Fermat picked it up. [Preprint]

[img]
Preview
PDF
Download (971Kb) | Preview

    Abstract

    This paper introduces a little-known episode in the history of physics, in which a mathematical proof by Pierre Fermat vindicated Galileo's characterization of freefall. The first part of the paper reviews the historical context leading up to Fermat's proof. The second part illustrates how a physical and a mathematical insight enabled Fermat's result, and that a simple modification would satisfy any of Fermat's critics. The result is an illustration of how a purely theoretical argument can settle an apparently empirical debate.


    Export/Citation:EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
    Social Networking:

    Item Type: Preprint
    Additional Information: Forthcoming in Synthese.
    Keywords: foundations of physics, history of mathematics, freefall, acceleration, Galileo, Fermat
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
    General Issues > Theory Change
    General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
    Depositing User: Bryan Roberts
    Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2009
    Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:18
    Item ID: 4917
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/4917

    Actions (login required)

    View Item

    Document Downloads