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JOHANNES KEPLER'S INFLUENCE
How did Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe help complete the Copernican Revolution?
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) composed a mathematically precise theory of the Copernican system, and Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) furnished the measurements that
constituted the factual data for the Copernican theory. Kepler's theoretical work was what completed the Copernican system. Kepler offered a religious explanation for the spacing of the planets and postulated a driving force centered in the Sun, which diminished with distance, as the cause of planetary movement.
How did Johannes Kepler's career develop?
Kepler (1571-1630) studied astronomy and was prepared to become a Lutheran minister, when he was appointed a mathematician at the University of Graz. At that time, mathematics included both
Tycho Brahe contributed to the heliocentric model by calculating measurements that helped confirm Copernicus' theory (Art Archive).
astronomy and astrology. In 1596 he published the Mysterium Cosmographium, which was the first comprehensive work on astronomy that was based on the Copernican system.
At the time, Graz was dominated by Catholics, and Kepler had to flee on religious grounds, because he was a Protestant. He went to Prague, where Tycho Brahe (1546-1601), the famous observational astronomer, had an observatory. Kepler composed a defense of Brahe's observations against Nicolaus Ursus, who had attacked them as "mere hypothesis." Kepler also claimed that, in addition to merely selecting the Ptolemaic or Copernican system, independent physical explanations are necessary. Using Tycho's observational data, Kepler then began work on the orbit of Mars. After Tycho died, Kepler was given his position as Imperial Mathematician, and also complete access to all of Tycho's data. In 1609 Kepler published A New Astronomy Based on Causes or a Physics of the Sky.
Kepler then had to leave Prague for the same reasons he had fled Graz. After he went to Linz, his research included music, theology, and philosophy, in addition to mathematics (which included astronomy). In his 1612 Epitome Astronomiae Copericanae he again emphasized the importance of causal explanation, as well as observational predictions, in studies of the movements of the planets. His 1618 Harmonia Mundi was the final expression of this thought. He said of this work: "It can wait a century for a reader, as God himself has waited six thousand years for a witness." Kepler was not the last great astronomer to believe he had special information about God. Isaac Newton's (1643-1727) work was to take the same high tone.
What is Kepler famous for?
Based on the principle that causes needed to be sought for observed planetary motions, both regular and exceptional, Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) posited both a force between planets and the Sun and also a force to propel the planets. Isaac Newton (1643-1727) was to show that a principle of inertia could be used instead of the force to propel the planets. Kepler's most famous contribution was the discovery that the planets moved in elliptical, rather than circular orbits.
FRANCIS BACON AND THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION
What did Francis Bacon contribute to the scientific revolution?
Francis Bacon (1561-1626) systematized the methodology of empirical science and set forth a program for how science could better human life. He is famous for claiming, "Knowledge is power," and sought ways to further develop and apply the new sciences to human life in practical ways. He believed that human beings needed to master nature and conduct experiments to discover "her" secrets—twentieth century feminists were to take Bacon to task for his assignment of a female gender to nature, compared to the maleness of scientists who were charged to conquer it.
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