In this blog and elsewhere, you have probably already seen the expression “Copernican revolution”. This expression highlights the fact that Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 – 1543) provoked a major change in perspectives by showing that it is more relevant to consider this is the Earth that is rotating around the Sun rather than the opposite. To this first upheaval echoes Galileo Galilei’s (1564 – 1642) works. The latter, on the basis of Copernicus’ work, among others, has definitively shown that Claudius Ptolemy’s (around 90 AD – about 168) system, published in the Almagest1Κλαύδιος Πτολεμαῖος, around 150 AD. Μαθηματική σύνταξις. An English translation: Gerald J. Toomer, 1998. Ptolemy’s Almagest, second edition, Princeton University Press, New York, United States of America. Available on-line. and according to which, in agreement with Aristotelian physics, the Earth was motionless in the centre of the World, was wrong.
I have alreadypresented this, with a viewfrom here. As I have indicated before, they were both preceded by Nicole Oresme’s (about 1320 or 1322 – 1382) work. Galileo also used Johannes Kepler’s (1571 – 1630) work, among others. Therefore, I have intentionally used the expression “Copernican revolution,” as well as “epistemic revolution.” But still remains the question I would like to tackle in this article: though this expression is commonly used, is it really relevant to talk about revolution? My purpose is also to lead you, my dear reader, to make some critical analysis of what I am publishing here.
Κλαύδιος Πτολεμαῖος, around 150 AD. Μαθηματική σύνταξις. An English translation: Gerald J. Toomer, 1998. Ptolemy’s Almagest, second edition, Princeton University Press, New York, United States of America. Available on-line.
The law of parsimony – sometimes called Ockham’s razor after the English Franciscan monk William of Ockham (circa 1285 – 1347), a pioneer in logic – is a principle common to philosophy and science. In fact, it has been stated before, the oldest occurrence that I have found is due to Aristotle1Ἀριστοτέλης, Φυσικὴ ἀκρόασις. Available on-line. An English translation by Robin Waterfield: David Bostock (editor), 1999. Physics, Oxford University Press. Available on-line. (384 – 322 BC), who attributes it to Empedocles (circa 490 – about 435 BC). However, Proclus (412 AD – 485) traces it back to Pythagoras (about 580 – about 495 BC)2The only version I know of the work in question is this German edition, which appears to be considered the reference: Manitius, C. (éditor et translator), 1909. Procli Diadochi hypotyposis astronomicarum positionum (Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana), Teubner, Leipzig. Reprinted in 1974: Teubner, Stuttgart..
No, I have not yet specified what states this law. This is a barely honest process that aims to create an almost unbearable suspense to make you captive of my prose, so that you will read this whole article. However, do not worry: the explanation comes in a few lines!
The only version I know of the work in question is this German edition, which appears to be considered the reference: Manitius, C. (éditor et translator), 1909. Procli Diadochi hypotyposis astronomicarum positionum (Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana), Teubner, Leipzig. Reprinted in 1974: Teubner, Stuttgart.
At the time of Chasseurs de rêves (this link leads to a French speaking website), part of my work was to write overviews of chosen subjects: I was looking for and presenting works fitting with these subjects. I tried to present both the most well known works and less known jewels. I must admit: I liked making these overviews, it made me rummaging in bookshops, media libraries, and find something to surprise readers. Besides, I miss it a bit.
So I decided to start this series, A Vue From the Attic, which will explore the links between fantasy culture on the one hand, and classical and avant-garde cultures on the other hand. This will also allow me to emphasise connections between science and other cultural forms. For a start, I chose a subject that brings me back to the origins of science fiction: space opera. As I have to present works from various media, the most relevant and attractive seemed to do it on video. As web accessibility is essential to me, for the visually impaired, I tried to ensure that the audio track allows getting the essentials. For the hearing impaired, as well as those troubled with my accent, subtitles are available.
Of course, if this first form of physical relativity is qualified “Galilean,” it is because Galileo had something to do in its formulation. The introduction of this principle is one of the main elements of the epistemological revolution to which I referred earlier. This article is therefore a continuation of the series on the history of science that I started. It will also be the occasion, once again, to introduce some concepts that will be useful for future popularisation articles to come.
I have already mentioned it: it is about time that I present the topics that I am interested in my work. As I have indicated on this site home page and as can be deduced from my resume, my areas of expertise are applied mathematics and theoretical computer science. My scope is physical oceanography. Specifically, I am reproducing ocean dynamics on computers.
However, though being a still evolving discipline, the study of ocean dynamics has a long history. The oldest references I have found were written during the antique times. The main topic on ocean dynamics they address is tide. I intend to present this story here. Much of the information you will find in the following comes from Bernard Simon’s La Marée océanique côtière1B. Simon, 2007. La Marée océanique côtière, collection “Synthèses”, Institut océanographique éditeur.. The following is an extract from the introduction of my Ph.D. thesis2Y. Le Bars, 2010. Modélisation de la dynamique océanique barotrope dans l’estuaire et le plateau amazoniens, Ph.D. thesis, Université de Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier.. This thesis focused on the development of an ocean model and its application to the estuary of the Amazon, so I do not claim to have achieved a definitive historical study: the following is a summary, albeit detailed, but with all the limitations of this exercise.