Imágenes de páginas

would be restored' in the same time with the sun ?—True, if this were all: but it has been said already that, besides this carrying powerof the sun, there is also in the planets a natural inertness to motion, which causes that, by reason of their material substance, they are inclined to remain each in its place. The carrying power of the sun, and the impotence or material inertness of the planet, are thus in opposition. Each shares the victory; the sun moves the planet from its place, although in some degree it escapes from the chains with which it was held by the sun, and so is taken hold of successively by every part of this circular virtue, or, as it may be called, solar circumference, namely, by the parts which follow those from which it has just extricated itself.

"P. But how does one planet extricate itself more than another from this violence—First, because the virtue emanating from the sun has the same degree of weakness at different distances, as the distances or the width of the circles described on these distances. This is the principal reason. Secondly, the cause is partly in the greater or less inertness or resistance of the planetary globes, which reduces the proportions to onehalf; but of this more hereafter.

"P. How can it be that the virtue emanating from the sun becomes weaker at a greater distance? What is there to hurt or weaken it ? — Because that virtue is corporeal, and partaking of quantity, which can be spread out and rarefied. Then, since there is as much virtue diffused in the vast orb of Saturn as is collected in the very narrow one of Mercury, it is very rare and therefore weak in Saturn's orbit, very dense and therefore powerful at Mercury.

"P. You said, in the beginning of this inquiry into motion, that the periodic times of the planets are exactly in the sesquiplicate proportion of their orbits or circles: pray what is the cause of this? —Four causes concur for lengthening the periodic time. First, the length of the path; secondly, the weight or quantity of matter to be carried; thirdly, the degree of strength of the moving virtue; fourthly, the bulk or space into which is spread out the matter to be moved.

• This is a word borrowed from the Ptolemaic astronomy, according to which the sun and planets are hurried from their places by the daily motion of the primttm mobile, and by their own peculiar motion seek to regain or be restored to their former places.

'„ t Jn other parts of his works Kepler assumes the diminution to be proportional to the circles themselves, not to the diameters.

The circular paths of the planets are in the simple ratio of the distances; the weights or quantities of matter in different planets are in the subduplicate ratio of the same distances, as has been already proved; so that with every increase of distance, a planet has more matter, and therefore is moved more slowly, and accumulates more time in its revolution, requiring already as it did more time by reason of the length of the way. The third and fourth causes compensate each other in a comparison of different planets: the simple and subduplicate proportion compound the sesquiplicate proportion, which therefore is the ratio of the periodic times."

Three of the four suppositions here made by Kepler to explain the beautiful law he had detected, are now indisputably known to be false. Neither the weights nor the sizes of the different planets observe the proportions assigned by him, nor is the force by which they are retained in their orbits in any respect similar in its effects to those attributed by him to it. The wonder which might naturally be felt that he should nevertheless reach the desired conclusion, will be considerably abated on examining the mode in which he arrived at and satisfied himself of the truth of these three suppositions. It has been already mentioned that his notions on the existence of a whirling force emanating from the sun, and decreasing in energy at increased distances, are altogether inconsistent with all the experiments and observations we are able to collect. His reason for asserting that the sizes of the different planets are proportional to their distances from the sun, was simply because he chose to take for granted that either their solidities, surfaces, or diameters, must necessarily be in that proportion, and of the three, the solidities appeared to him least liable to objection. The last element of his precarious reasoning rested upon equally groundless assumptions. Taking as a principle, that where there is a number of different things they must be different in every respect, he declared that it was quite unreasonable to suppose all the planets of the same density. He thought it indisputable that they must be rarer as they were farther from the sun, "and yet not in the proportion of their_distances, for thus we should sin against the law of variety in another way, and make the quantity of matter (according to what he had just said of their bulk) the same in all. But if 'we assume the ratio of the

Quantities of matter to be half that of the istances. we shall observe the best mean of all; for thus Saturn will be half as heavy again as Jupiter, and Jupiter half again as dense as Saturn. And the strongest argument of all is, that unless we assume this proportion of the densities, the law of the periodic times will "not answer." This is the proof alluded to, and it is clear that by such reasoning any required result might be deduced from any given principles.

It may not beuninstructive to subjoin a sketch of the manner in which Newton established the same celebrated results, starting from principles of motion diametrically opposed to Kepler's, and it need scarcely be added, reasoning upon them in a manner not less different. For this purpose, a very few prefatory remarks will be found sufficient.

The different motions seen in nature are best analysed and classified by supposing that every body in motion, if left to itself, will continue to move forward at the same rate in a straight line, and by considering all the observed deviations from this manner of moving, as exceptions and disturbances occasioned by some external cause. To this supposed cause is generally given the name of Force, and it is said to be the first law of motion, that, unless acted on by some force, every body at rest remains at rest, and every body in motion proceeds uniformly inastraight line. Many employ this language, without perceiving that it involves a definition of force, on the admission of which, it is reduced to a truism. We see common instances of force in a blow, or a pull from the end of a string fastened to the body: we shall also have occasion presently to mention some forces where no visible connexion exists between the moving body and that towards which the motion takes place, and from which the force is said to proceed.

A second law of motion, founded upon experiment, is this: if a body have motion communicated to it in two directions, by one of which motions alone it would have passed through a given space in a given time, as for instance, through B C m one second, and by the other alone through any other space Be in the same 5 * time, it will, when both are

given to it at the same in stant, pass in the same ~& time (in the present instance in one second) through B C the

[merged small][graphic]

means, according to what has been said, let it pass over the equal straight lines A B, B C, C D, D E, &C., in equal times. If we take any point S not in the line A E, and join A S, B S, &c, the triangles A S B, B S C, &c. are also equal, having a common altitude and standing on equal bases, so that if a string were conceived reaching from S to the moving body (being lengthened or shortened in each position to suit its distance from S). this string, as the body moved along A E, would sweep over equal triangular areas in equal times.

Let us now examine how far these


conclusions will be altered if the body from time to time is forced towards S. We will suppose it moving uniformly from A to B as before, no matter for the present how it got to A, or into the direction A B. If left to itself it would, in an equal time (say 1") go through B C in the same straight line with and equal to AB. But just as it reaches B, and is beginning to move along B C, let it be suddenly pulled towards S with a motion which, had it been at rest, would have carried it in the same time, 1", through any other space B c. According to the second law of motion, its direction during this 1", in consequence of the two motions combined, will be' along B C, the diagonal of the parallelogram of which B C, B c, are sides. In

this case, as this figure is drawn, B C, though passed in the same time, is longer than A B; that is to say, the body is moving quicker than at first. How is it with the triangular areas, supposed as before to be swept by a string constantly stretched between S and the body? It will soon be seen that these still remain equal, notwithstanding the change of direction, and increased swiftness. For since C C is parallel to B c, the triangles S C B, SC'B are equal, being on the same base S B, and between the same parallels SB, C C, and S CB is equal to S B A as before, therefore S C B, S B A are equal. The body is now moving uniformly (though quicker than along A B) along B C. As before, it would in a time equal to the time of passing along B C, go through an equal space C D' in the same straight line. But if at C it has a second pull towards S, strong enough to carry it to d in the same time, its direction will change a second time to C D, the diagonal of the parallelogram, whose sides are CD'.Crf; and the circumstances being exactly similar to those at the first pull, it is shewn in the same manner that the triangular area SDC = SCB = SBA.

Thus it appears, that in consequence of these intermitting pulls towards S, the body may be movmg round, sometimes faster, sometimes slower, but that the triangles formed by any of the straight portions of its path (which are all described in equal times), and the lines joining S to the ends of that portion, are all equal. The path it will take depends, of course, in other respects, upon the frequency and strength of the different pulls, and it might happen, if they were duly proportionate, that when at H, and movmg off in the direction H A', the pull H a might be such as just to carry the body back to A, the point from which it started, and with such a motion, that after one pull more, AS, at A, it might move along A B as it did at first. If this were so, the body would continue to move round in the same polygonal path, alternately approaching and receding from S, as long as the same pulls were repeated in the same order, and at the same intervals.

It seems almost unnecessary to remark, that the same equality which subsists between any two of these triangular areas subsists also between an equal number of them, from whatever part of the path taken ; so that, for instance, the four paths AB, B C, CD, D E, cor

responding to the four areas A S B, BSC.CSD.DSE, that is, to the area A B C D E S, are passed in the same timeasthefourEF.FG.GH,HA,corresponding to the equal area EFGHASHence it may be seen, if the whole time of revolution from A round to A again be called a year, that in half a year the body will have got to E, which in the present figure is more than half way round, and so of any other periods.

The more frequently the pulls are supposed to recur, the more frequently will the body change its direction; and if the pull were supposed constantly exerted in the direction towards S, the body would move in a curve round S, for no three successive positions of it could be in a straight line. Those who are not familiar with the methods of measuring curvilinear spaces must here be contented to observe, that the law holds, however close the pulls are brought together, and however closely the polygon is consequently made to resemble a curve: they may, if they please, consider the minute portions into which the curve is so divided, as differing insensibly from little rectilinear triangles, any equal number of which, according to what has been said above, wherever taken in the curve, would be swept in equal times. The theorem admits, in this case also, a rigorous proof; but it is not easy to make it entirely satisfactory, without entering into explanations which would detain us too long from our principal subject.

The proportion in which the pull is strong or weak at different distances from the central spot, is called "the law of the central or centripetal force," and it may be observed, that after assuming the laws of motion, our investigations cease to have anything hypothetical or experimental in them; and that if we wish, according to these principles of motion, to determine the law of force necessary to make a body move in a curve of any required form, or conversely to discover the form of the curve described, in consequence of any assumed law of force, the inquiry is purely geometrical, depending upon the nature and properties of geometrical quantities only. This distinction between what is hypothetical, and what necessary truth, ought never to be lost sight of.

As the object of the present treatise is not to teach geometry, we shall describe, in very general terms, the manner in which Newton, who was the first who systematically extended the laws of motion to the heavenly bodies, identified their results with the two remaining laws of Kepler. His "Principles of Natural Philosophy" contain general propositions with regard to any law of centripetal force, but that which he supposed to be the true one in our system, is expressed in mathematical language, by saying that the centripetal force varies the square of the distance, which means, that if the force at any distance be taken for the unit of force, at half that distance, it is two times twice, or four times as strong; at onethird the distance, three times thrice, or nine times as strong, and so for other distances. He shewed the probability of this law in the first instance by comparing the motion of the moon with that of heavy bodies at the surface of the earth. Taking LP to represent part of the moon's orbit describedin one minute, the line P M between the i orbit and the tangent at L would shew the space through which the central force at the earth (assuming the above principles of motion to be correct) would draw the moon. From the known distance and motion of the moon, this line P M is found to be about sixteen feet. The distance of the moon is about sixty times the radius of the earth, and therefore if the law of the central force in this instance were such as has been supposed, the force at the earth's surface would be 60 times 60, or 3600 times stronger, and at the earth's surface, the central force would make a body fall through 3600 times 16 feet in one minute. Galileo had already taught that the spaces through which a body would be made to fall, by the constant action of the same unvarying force, would be proportional to the squares of the times during which the force was exerted, and therefore according to these laws, a body at the earth's surface ought (since there are sixty seconds in a minute) to fall through 16 feet in one second, which was precisely the space previously established by numerous experiments.


With this confirmation of the supportsition, Newton proceeded to the purely geometrical calculation of the law of centripetal* force necessary to make a • In many cu/yes, u in the circle and ellipse,

moving body describe an ellipse round its focus, which Kepler's observations had established to be the form of the orbits of the planets round the sun. The result of the inquiry shewed that this curve required the same law of the force, varying inversely as the square of the distance, which therefore of course received additional confirmation. His method of doing this may, perhaps, be understood by referring to the last figure but one, in which C d, for instance, representing the space fallen from any point C towards S, in a given time, and the area C S D being pro portional to the corresponding time, the space through which the body would have fallen at C in any other time (which would be greater, by Galileo's law, in proportion to the squares of the times), might be represented by a quantity varying directly as C d, and inversely in the duplicate proportion of the triangular area C S D, that is to say, proportional to

(SCxDft)''ifD*bedrawnfr0mD perpendicular on S C. If this polygon represent an ellipse, so that C D represents a small arc of the curve, of which S is the focus, it is found by the nature

of that curve, that


is the same at


all points of the curve, so that the law of variation of the force in the same ellipse

is represented solely bv c ., t. If C d,

&c. are drawn so that . is not the

same at every point, the curve ceases to be an ellipse whose focus is at S, as Newton has shewn in the same work:

(D, k)* The line to which -^ , is found to be L. a

equal, is one drawn through the focus at right angles to the longest axis of the ellipse till it meets the curver-- this line is called the lotus rectum, and is a third proportional to the two principal axes.

Kepler's third law. follows as an immediate consequence of this determination; for, according to what has been already shown, the time of revolution round the whole ellipse, or, as it is com- there is a point to which the name of centre is given, on account of peculiar properties belonging to it: but the term " centripetal force'' always refers to the place towards which the force is directed, whether or not situated in the centre of the CUT*,

monly called, the periodic time, bears the same ratio to the unit of time as the whole area of the ellipse does to the area described in that unit. The area of the whole ellipse is proportional' in different ellipses to the rectangle contained by the two principal axes, and the area described in an unit of time is proportional toS C x DA, that is to say, is in the sub

duplicate ratio ofSC'xD k\ or ^-7,

when the force varies inversely as the square of the distance S C; and in the ellipse, as we have said already, this is equal to a third proportional to the principal axes; consequently the periodic times in different ellipses, which are proportional to the whole areas of the ellipses directly, and the areas described in the unit of time inversely, are in the compound ratio of the rectangle of the axes directly, and subdue plicatly as a third proportional to the axes inversely; that is to say, the squares of these times are proportional to the cubes of the longest axes, which is Kepler's law.

Chapter VIII.

The Epitome prohibited at RomeLogarithmic Tables Trial of Catharine KeplerKepler invited to EnglandRudolphine TablesDeathConclusion.

Kepler's "Epitome," almost immediately on its appearance, enjoyed the honour of being placed by the side of the work of Copernicus, on the list of books prohibited by the congregation of the Index at Rome. He was considerably alarmed on receiving this intelligence, anticipating that it might occasion difficulties in publishing his future writings. His words to Remus, who had communicated the news to him, are as follows:— "I learn from your letter, for the first time, that my book is prohibited at Rome and Florence. I particularly beg of you, to send me the exact words of the censure, and that you will inform me whether that censure would be a snare for the author, if he were caught in Italy, or whether, if taken, he would be enjoined a recantation. It is also of consequence for me to know whether there is any chance of the same censure being extended into Austria. For if this be so, not only shall I never again find a printer there, but also the copies which the bookseller has left in Austria at my desire will be endangered, and the ultimate

loss will fall upon me. It will amount to giving me to understand, that I must cease to profess Astronomy, after I have grown old in the belief of these opinions,' having been hitherto gainsayed by no one,—and, in short, I must give up Austria itself, if room is no longer to be left in it for philosophical liberty." He was, however, tranquillized, in a great degree, by the reply of his friend, who told him that "the book is only prohibited as contrary to the decree pronounced by the holy office two years ago. This has been partly occasioned by a Neapolitan monk (Foscarini), who was spreading these notions by publishing them in Italian, whence were arising dangerous consequences and opinions: and besides, Galileo was at the same time pleading his cause at Rome with too much violence. Copernicus has been corrected in the same manner for some lines, at least in the beginning of his first book. But by obtaining a permission, they may be read (and, as I suppose, this " Epitome" also) by the learned and skilful in this science, both at Rome and throughout all Italy. There is therefore no ground for your alarm, either in Italy or Austria; only keep yourself within bounds, and put a guard upon your own passions."

We shall not dwell upon Kepler's different works on comets, beyond mentioning that they were divided, on the plan of many of his other publications, into three parts, Astronomical. Physical, and Astrological. He maintained that comets move in straight lines, with a varying degree of velocity. Later theories have shewn that they obey the same laws of motion as the planets, differing from them only in the extreme excentricity of their orbits. In the second book, which contains the Physiology of Comets, there is a passing remark that comets come out from the remotest parts of ether, as whales and monsters from the depth of the sea; and the suggestion is thrown out that perhaps comets are something of the nature of silkworms, and are wasted and consumed in spinning their own tails.

Among his other laborious employments, Kepler yet found time to calculate tables of logarithms, he having beenoneofthe first in Germany to appreciate the full importance of the facilities they afford to the numerical calculator. In 1618 he wrote to his friend Schickhard: "There is a Scottish Baron (whose name has escaped my memory), who has made a famous contrivance, by which

« AnteriorContinuar »