Outlines of a System of Mechanical Philosophy; Being a Research Into the Laws of Force

9780217266536: Outlines of a System of Mechanical Philosophy; Being a Research Into the Laws of Force

This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated.1851 Excerpt: ... CHAPTER V. " IN THE CONSTANT OSCILLATION OP THE HUMAN HIND BETWEEN IDEAS AND FACTS, AFTER HAVING FOR A MOMENT TOUCHED THE LATTER, IT SEEMS TO SWING BACK MORE IMPETUOUSLY TO THE Former."--Whewell. We pass from the examination of the very minute and of the far-extended, to the common facts of our dailj observation; gladly throwing down the telescope and microscope, we will look with the naked eye at nature in the ordinary range of vision. Were we to select one class of facts to illustrate the ideas we present, and to disprove the attraction of matter, it would be that which relates to oscillatory motion,--the action of the pendulum and kindred movements. The swing of a pendulum, increasing in velocity in proportion to the decrease of distance from the centre of oscillation, the force of its motion being measurable by the area of the circle of which it describes a segment, shows that the nature of force is the same, however its energies may operate. It brings to the mind the relative speed of the planets, increasing as the diameter of their orbits diminishes. Its regular beats mark time with the same precision as does the harmonic motion of the heavenly bodies. It is, therefore, a free, unrestrained movement, showing the laws of force, and had it been rightly understood, the laws which regulate the planetary movements might have been distinctly inferred from it. " We feel," says Bailly, in his History of Astronomy, " that nature is very simple in her operations; the positions and motions of the planets offer at first sight the appearance of intricacy, but the principle which impels them has a naturalness and simplicity like the character of truth;" and this principle has application not only to them, but to all natural and unrestrained motion. Thus in the pend...

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