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The History of Gravitational Theory

Since the times of ancient Greece, effort towards understanding the cosmos has gotten a tremendous following in order to discover the facts about the subject. Various scientists and philosophers formulated theories pertaining to the understanding of planetary motions. The establishment of facts in the field was challenging due to the lack of sufficient knowledge on understanding the forces that control the Universe. For a long time, people were mistaken in supporting the ancient view of the Universe (Bekenstein 12).

The ancient Greek scientists and philosophers, Aristotle and Plato, described the Earth as being the centre of the Universe. All other celestial bodies were thought to revolve around the Earth. They backed their theory by explaining that stars remained in their same places in constellations owing to this phenomenon. They considered a straight line and a circle as the only perfect motions. To them, this further proved that only objects that moved in straight lines fell on to the Earth while stars and planets that could not fall on to the Earth assumed a circular motion around the Earth. Other scientists, that had more accurate foundations and discoveries, formulated various theories. The fear of being discredited by powerful scientists because of opposing their theories prevented most scientists from declaring openly their theories.

Amongst the prominent scientists that attempted to explain the gravitational theory was Nicholas Copernicus, a Polish priest born in 1473, who did most of his work in secret. Johannes Kepler was a German mathematician, born on 1571, whose theories brought a tinge of genius to other formulated theories. In Italy, Galileo Galilei worked in earnest competence formulating facts that would later get integrated with Kepler’s theories by Sir Isaac Newton. The increasing accuracy in addressing the forces governing the Universe had no better hallmark than the revolutionary findings of the Englishman, Sir Isaac Newton. Born in 1643, he developed theories and formulae that led to the solving of most issues concerning gravity in his time. Albert Einstein came along at the twist of the twentieth century with revolutionary concepts that astounded the Physics fraternity. He was the most prominent scientist after Newton to formulate broadly accepted ideologies that led to the understanding of gravitational theories (Kallos 89).

When it comes to a science question, the power of the society’s majority is not applicable in the way of thinking of a solitary person. This statement could have led to rapid development in the scientific advances in ancient times. The fear of declaring knowledge in public, caused by the strong opposition one would face, led to a stunted development of the theory of gravity. Case in point was Nicholas Copernicus, who could not object the ancient scientists’ belief that the Earth was the centre of the Universe. He suggested, through anonymous manuscripts from 1514, that the Sun was at the centre of the Universe and all other celestial bodies, including the Earth, revolved around it (Goodman 156). His theory based on the thought that the Sun at the centre was the only logical explanation as to why it would illuminate the whole Universe so well. However, this was not tested because it was a subjective analysis of the question. Despite the fear for his credibility as a scientist, he finally published his work in a book titled, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, in 1543. Not long after this publication, he died, and his work did not get appreciated as such. The book was read by few people and the scientific value of it was never analyzed (Bencivenga, Ermanno).

Johannes Kepler developed his theory from mathematics principles of inscribing circles within triangles. He identified a relation in the ratios of diameters of planetary orbits and circles inscribed within and outside equilateral triangles. He worked extensively in trying to formulate this relation, and in frustration he concluded that he revoked the sheer basis of planetary motion as they were understood then. The perfect motions, for him, did not fit in with his model, and, thus, he assumed the planetary orbits must be elliptical (Kepler and Baumgardt 90). His book, Mysterium Cosmographicum, that he published in 1596, explained the relation between the diameters of planetary orbits and inscribed circles. He formulated laws on the elliptical planetary orbits in his other publication, Astronomia Nova, and Harmocies Mundi. These books were published in Germany in 1609 and 1619 respectively. These were immensely accurate theories that got proved by adding a minor fact into knowledge by annulling the vast understanding of perfect motions (Misner and Thorne 67).

Galileo Galilei studied the effects of gravity on Earth in Italy. He insisted on the integration of gravitational theories with mathematical language to enhance comprehension of the facts. This, in essence, revolutionized the study of physics. He wondered why a falling object did not get displaced horizontally given that the Earth rotates on its own axis. He tried to understand why the rotation of the Earth could not be felt. He figured out that, given the Earth’s speed of rotation of 1070 miles per hour, a free falling object would get displaced horizontally through a distance of half a mile (Odenwald 22). He developed his theories on uniform acceleration of bodies through space. Within air or vacuum, the acceleration of a free falling object would be constant. He published a book, Two New Stories, in 1638, that described his finding on uniform accelerations due to gravitational attractions. He tested and proved his theories with mathematical formulae to increase their credibility. However, he did not identify the reason behind the lack of horizontal displacement of free falling object despite the Earth’s rotation on its axis (Will).

Sir Isaac Newton, together with Robert Hooke, set to find out why objects tend to get attracted to the centre of the Earth. Newton lived in England from his birth in 1643. The scientists tried to find out the reason behind the attraction between bodies owing to the quantity of matter within them. He established that the distance between the centre of the Earth and an object varied with this force of attraction inversely. He, thus, committed himself to developing a mathematical relation between distance and gravitational attraction. At 23, he figured out that an object would take an elliptical path around the Sun, given the contrary square law of pull he had formulated. He perfected his law on attraction in a 9-page thesis that he offered a hook in 1684. In 1686, he published his first volume; Philosophie NaturalisPrincipia Mathematica He integrated the ideas of Kepler and Galileo with his law in inverse square attraction. He elaborated on the motion theories that Galileo had theorized and explained the effect of gravity on the occurrence of tides in the seas and oceans.

At the turn of 1900, Albert Einstein came up with revolutionary concepts basing on Newton’s discoveries. He developed Newton’s 2nd law of motion by elaborating the understanding of bodies at high, uniform velocities in 1905. He described the effects of mass and energy on the movement of bodies. He made many people understand that space is curved, and, thus, movement patterns follow a grid curved by space. The mass and energy of bodies have a curving effect on space, and the resulting path taken assumes this curvature. According to Einstein, the Sun curves a path for the Earth and other planets in space with its mass and energy. The effect of the Sun on space, thus, causes a uniform elliptical orbit for the planets. He suggested the same theory could be applied to light, making the assumed position of stars in space mostly erroneous. Sir Arthur Eddington proved this after World War I during a solar eclipse. The Sun bends the light due to the energy of the Sun in space that curves the path of light. This earned Einstein worldwide publicity on his theory of relativity. His theory got published in Mineola, New York, as Einstein Notebook, on 1989 (Dicke 88).

Quantum physics took its roots since 2004. It considers all advances in Physics in its foundation. It bases the significance of forces on extremely minute scales. Gravity is a too weak force and sometimes it is ignored in current quantum physics. This has led to development of Quantum Principles to describe motion and energy at a basic level in a bid to understand the universal forces (Will 83).

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