Science and the Enlightenment by Thomas L. Hankins

By Thomas L. Hankins

Technological know-how and the Enlightenment is a basic historical past of eighteenth-century technology protecting either the actual and lifestyles sciences. It locations the medical advancements of the century within the cultural context of the Enlightenment and divulges the level to which clinical principles permeated the idea of the age. The e-book takes good thing about topical scholarship, that is quickly altering our figuring out of technology through the eighteenth century. particularly it describes how technological know-how was once prepared into fields that have been relatively diversified from these we all know this present day. Professor Hankins's paintings is a far wanted addition to the literature on eighteenth-century technological know-how. His learn isn't technical; it will likely be of curiosity to all scholars of the Enlightenment and the heritage of technology, in addition to to the final reader with a few history in technology.

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The star map shown is a map of our galaxy, with the solar system located near the center. Sounes: William Herschel, "Account of some observations tending to investigate the construction of the heavens," Philosophical Transactions, 74 (1784),437-51, and "Description of a forry-foot reflecting telescope," Philosophical Transactions, vol. 85, pt. 2 (1795), p. 408. Courtesy of the University of Washington Libraries. MATHEMATICS AND THE EXACT SCIENCES 45 proved their worth, and in astronomy they had brought about major advances; but they had contributed little to the design of real machines or to the improvement of experiment.

The centripetal force is measured by the displacement from the tangent back to the curve. This displacement will be DB from the Leibnizian tangent and EB from the geometric tangent. But these two measurements of the displacement 24 SCIENCE AND THE ENLIGHTENMENT from the tangent do not approach each other when the number of sides of the polygon is increased. In fact the displacement DB is always twice EB, no matter how many sides the polygon has and no matter how small the angle becomes. No wonder that an embarrassing factor of two frequently separated the values that mathematicians obtained for the law of centripetal force.

This fluctuation was not the same as the precession of the equinoxes, which was known to be caused by the fact that the earth's axis precesses slowly, like the axis of a spinning top. This new fluctuation was a small wobble on top of the precession. Bradley correctly concluded that it was due to nutation. Like the axis of a spinning top, the earth's axis not only precesses in a smooth, circular motion but also bobs up and down. Since all astronomical observations are made from the moving earth, Bradley's aberration and nutation were needed to correct all accurate astronomical measurements.

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