The scholastic pendulum

Annals of Science 35 (5):441-462 (1978)
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The history of the physics of pendular motion rightly begins with Galileo's discovery of the isochronous character of that motion. There is, however, a ‘pre-history’ of the pendulum, centering on its initial recognition as a significant special case requiring explanation. This occurred in the writings of Jean Buridan and Nicole Oresme in the middle of the fourteenth century. Earlier works that might have been construed as discussing pendular motion are considered, as are the explanations for the scholastic ‘discovery’ of pendular motion put forth by Thomas Kuhn and Piero Ariotti. In contrast to these writers, this paper seeks to account for the pendulum's emergence with reference to an imaginary experiment concerning a body moving past the earth's center, medieval theories of impetus, and the proximate physical model of pendular motion, the late medieval heavy suspended church bell



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