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Download Comets: A Chronological History of Observation, Science, by Donald K. Yeomans PDF

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By Donald K. Yeomans

Incomplete dossier: pages 141-358, 474-496 are passed over

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Additional info for Comets: A Chronological History of Observation, Science, Myth, and Folklore

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A scholar would qualify the attribution of this discovery to Galileo, but it has sufficient truth in it to justify our starting our study with him. Pisa: Preparation Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa of Florentine parents on February 15, 1564. The family was ancient and prominent in Florence, but by the time of the birth of Galileo, it was not wealthy. His father was a musician of considerable reputation; in fact, his music is still played occasionally today. Galileo passed the first ten years of his life in Pisa, went to Florence around 1574, and was back in Pisa in 1581, registering as a student of medicine at the university.

My final journey in time to visit one of the great physicists would take me to Berlin, a journey I did not relish, especially since I had heard that the city in 1890 resembled a barracks in which the new Kaiser ruled with little tact and even less good taste. But that had little to do with His Excellency Geheimrat Professor Doktor Hermann von Helmholtz. German science had proved particularly hospitable to young scientists of other countries, and visitors were allowed to take advantage of the well-organized teaching and of the facilities of the rich German laboratories.

In his reasoning we often find arguments based on time reversal or other 60 symmetry properties that are strangely reminiscent of some of the most modern considerations of theoretical physics. Galileo is above all a scientist and not a philosopher. In this he differs sharply from his great contemporary René Descartes (1596—1650), who was preoccupied with metaphysical questions of what to base physics on. Galileo has been considered a symbol of very different philosophical tendencies—platonism, positivism, and so on—because in his writings one can find support of various doctrines, even contradictory ones.

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