Apart from statics, about which I shall say nothing, there were three chief centres of interest in mechanics in the 1660's: the motions of pendulums; the laws of motion; the free fall of heavy bodies and the motion of projectiles.In the first the influence of Huygens was dominant; I have placed it so because it was of very lively contemporary concern. The second area of interest descended partly from Galileo and partly from Descartes; the third from Galileo alone. Perhaps one (...) should consider adding a fourth area, the investigation of central forces, but this in fact did not attract much attention as yet. (shrink)
It was in the closing year of the nineteenth century that Paul Tannery organized at an international historical congress the first international meeting devoted to the history of science. If antiquity would make a scholarly subject respectable, scholarship in the history of science must be beyond reproach; still earlier than Tannery and his colleagues in many European countries were the German historian of chemistry Kopp, and William Whewell, Master of Trinity; the eighteenth century had produced substantial works like those on (...) mathematics and astronomy of Montucla and Delambre; Isaac Vossius and others virtually take these studies back to the Renaissance and Polydore Vergil. Just as in our day such classical scholars as Heiberg, Bailey, Housman, Drachman or Peck have chosen scientific texts as their subjects, so in the past, too, learning and science have met on this common ground. Few creative mathematicians of the seventeenth century thought that attention to the writings of Euclid or Archimedes was a waste of time. (shrink)
The simple belief that Galileo ‘invented’ dynamics or kinematics was destroyed long ago. Yet there can be no doubt of the revolution in ideas of motion associated with his name. The paper examines some recent work in this field and evaluates the nature and extent of Galileo's contributions.