Western Civilization^2 lesson 50

(1) What was the Ptolemaic-Aristotelian view of the universe, and how did Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton undermine it and institute an alternative?

“Copernicus’s, Kepler’s, Galileo’s, and Newtons’s Adventures Through Spaceland.”

The Ptolemaic-Aristotelian view of the universe–the belief that the Earth was the center of the universe–was widely accepted ever since the Ancient Greeks were alive and thriving, but eventually, a few clever souls stepped out and initiated a scientific revolution. The old geocentric concept also described how the earth was stationary, the planets were perfectly spherical, and their orbits were circular. Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton used science to determine otherwise in 16th and 17th century Europe, each doing his own part to uncover what we know to be the truth today. Copernicus realized and even managed to prove that earth rotates on its own axis instead of resting motionless by the fact that the view of the heavens changes each night. Kepler, who surmised that the orbits of the planets were not circular at all, discovered that they were in actuality elliptical, by studying a predecessor’s diagrams and realizing that the planets would have to slow down and speed up at various times in order to be moving in a circle. Peering through his telescope, Galileo observed that since moons orbited Jupiter, not everything was orbiting the sun. His discovery also provided a very rational response to the argument that if the earth was really moving, it would leave its moons behind. If Jupiter didn’t lose its moons on its trip around the sun, then the earth wouldn’t either. Newton applied his findings from his various experiments regarding gravity to the planets, reasoning that the gravity of the Earth and Jupiter glued their own particular moons to the respective planets and the Sun’s gravity kept all of the orbiting planets from being lost in space. The new heliocentric model of the planets discovered by these men—among many others—was revolutionary at the time, although in the modern world it is common knowledge. Where would we be today without them?

(3) Explain the significance of the person you read about for Lesson 48 in 100 words.

“William Harvey, the Cadaver Man!”

William Harvey’s birth in 1578 heralded a massive revelation in the understating of the human body. He was the first to pen a detailed account of the flow of blood through the body and broke apart his most famous physician predecessor—Galen’s—insane theories through his dissections of cadavers. Some of those theories included how the heart heated the body and the lungs acted as bellows in regulating the heat. Graduating from several colleges all across Western Europe with sky-high marks, Harvey finally joined the college of physicians in 1602. His dissections and careful notes of the body were not limited to humans, and he wrote several books on animals and was recorded to have loved watching birds. In his later years, Harvey used his scientific findings to prove many women innocent of witchcraft. In one case he was sent to investigate a woman accused of being a witch. He gained her confidence under the pretense that he was a wizard and wanted to discuss witchcraft with her. Apparently she was naive enough to fall for the ruse and summoned a toad, which she referred to as her familiar, to drink some milk from a saucer. When she left the room temporarily, he dissected the toad, and finding nothing magical about it, acquitted her of her charges. William Harvey, a humorous but focused and intelligent English physician, completely revolutionized the understanding of the human body.

(4) Describe the main ideas we associate with the Enlightenment.

“People Get Less Dumb”

18th century Europe was an age of thinkers and scientists, which today we call the Enlightenment. Discovering the truths of the universe and reasoning through the puzzle of the natural world was a source of love for these brilliant minds. When they refused to accept poplar beliefs such as the sun orbiting the earth simply because these ideas had been around since the time of the ancient Greeks, these new scientists determinedly set out to prove or disprove them. Scientists during the Enlightenment dissected plants and human bodies to discover their modus operandi. The scientific method, which was a new way of making an educated guess, conducting experiments based on that guess, and observing the answer, was founded to better analyze data and aid the scientists in their reasoning. In fact, reason and science quickly blurred together in the eyes of the people to become one and the same. Frequently cropping up in the Enlightenment was a belief called Deism: the idea that God created the universe and then left it alone from that point on. This explained how the universe could be an orderly one and scientific experiments could have the same result every time, instead of, for instance, God intervening and compelling the apple to fly into the air away from Newton’s head. However, not all of the scientists believed this and several devoted themselves to their religions as well as their experiments. Without the brilliant minds of the Enlightenment, today we might still believe the untruth that the earth is stationary and the other planets are all perfect spheres.


3 thoughts on “Western Civilization^2 lesson 50

  1. Perrissa

    Nicely done!!! It was an easy, and clear essay. Great job! :) I love you fall theme! :D


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