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By Wilbur Applebaum

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He published a book, De hemelloop (On Astronomy), in 1608, in which he showed the superiority of Copernicus’ heliocentric theory over Ptolemy’s geocentrism and made some slight improvements in the former. Stevin was but one of a small minority of heliocentrists in the first few decades after the publication of Copernicus’ path-breaking work. Astronomy and the Cosmos Copernicanism Revised and Improved Johannes Kepler, Planetary Orbits, and Their Causes Among the few who accepted Copernicanism in the late sixteenth century were Michael Mästlin (1550–1631), professor of mathematics at the University of Tübingen, and his student Johannes Kepler (1571–1630).

Concerned about the response to his radical ideas, Copernicus agreed to have Rheticus publish a preliminary account, which Rheticus did in 1540 in a work titled Narratio prima (A First Account). Its reception was favorable enough for Copernicus to agree to publish his full theory. Rheticus oversaw the printing of the first part of the manuscript, but the remainder of the task of supervising its publication was left to Andreas Osiander (1498–1552), a Lutheran minister. In an anonymous foreword to Copernicus’ De revolutionibus orbium caelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Orbs), Osiander said that its geometrical techniques were an improvement over Ptolemy’s, but that the arrangement of the heavenly bodies in the work was not to be taken as reflecting reality.

Some philosophers held that impetus diminished in the course of motion; others, that it even increased in certain motions, such as in accelerated motion. In all instances, however, it was an internal, rather than an external, cause of motion. Philosophers at the University of Oxford explored certain aspects of kinematics—the study of motion without attempting to determine causes. They developed the ideas of velocity and instantaneous velocity and began to explore mathematical relationships governing accel- Matter, Motion, and the Mathematical Sciences erating bodies and uniformly moving ones.

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