FOM: Copernicus

José Félix Costa fgc at
Tue Feb 26 05:12:13 EST 2002

Alexander R. Pruss and Palma wrote inter alia,

''general relativity had also been formulated by or available to Copernicus,
then he could have realized that saying the sun goes around the earth and
the earth goes around the sun are equivalent in the sense that one can
choose coordinates so that each of these is tenable''

This argument goes back to Nicolaus Oresmus and Cusanus (Nicolas of Cusa).

However, the argument is valid only until the discovery of paralax.

''It's also interesting to note that the mere claim that the Copernican
hypothesis is simpler for calculation would have been acceptable to everyone

This is not true! The Copernican hypothesis is not simpler (is worse than
Ptolomaeus')! The orbits should stay circular (accordingly to Neoplatonic
and Aristotelic philosophy). Using circles the movement of a heavenly body
could be expanded in Fourier Series in two dimensions having the Sun at the
center or the earth. Each circle is an epicicle. Copernicus' theory has more
epicicles than Ptolomeus'. Fred Hoyle did this calculation several years
ago. The number of circles in the Revolutionibus is over 50.

Essais where all these calculations are made are Westerman, Hoyle and mainly
the great Naugebaur.

Finaly he argument of Copernicus is not simplicity. It is metaphysical.

See in the Revolutionibus, introduction, and in Kuhn.



J. Felix Costa
Departamento de Matematica
Instituto Superior Tecnico
Av. Rovisco Pais, 1049-001 Lisboa, PORTUGAL
tel:      351 - 21 - 841 71 45
fax:     351 - 21 - 841 75 98
e-mail:   fgc at

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