Talk on Gravitation, Part 5
Isaac Newton’s Invention of Laws
No wonder that Julius Silversmith, Esq., M.A., said “So far as mathematical astronomy is based upon mathematics alone, and draws ALL ITS CONCLUSIONS from ASSUMED data, such conclusions cannot be natural and true, but are simply artificial and delusive. Newton was pre-eminent in his ability to decipher objects and INVENT ‘laws’ that were not in existence and his followers have relied upon their seeming accuracy, simply because they could be illustrated by lines and figures, by clockwork and machinery, by pictures and pasteboard. Such is really the case with his theories of attraction and gravitation.”
“In elementary Works on the motion of the Planets are given elaborate diagrams borrowed from Newton’s Principia, for the purpose of demonstrating the law of centripetal and centrifugal forces; and any student who masters these diagrams fancies’ that they conclusively prove the truth of the theory.
Our student, however, acts under the same erroneous impression as that which governed the mind of Sir Isaac Newton, as in his time there did not exist sufficient scientific knowledge to expose the fallacies o f the data. Newton asserted theoretically that which is practically impossible, viz., firstly, that there could be centrifugal force developed by one body revolving round another when the two bodies were not MECHANICALIC UNITED; and, secondly, that this centrifugal force was so exactly a counterpoise to gravitation, that an increase of velocity in the revolving body towards the gravitating direction was sufficient to prevent gravity (gravitation) becoming triumphant and thus drawing the revolving body out of its orbit altogether!
Centrifugal force can only be developed in a body revolving on its own centre or round another body to which is MECHANICALLY ATTACHED…The problem with which Newton attempted to grapple was to discover the forces and laws which govern the movements of the heavenly bodies. He signally failed in solving the mystery. To get his rotatory movement he was obliged to resort to the clumsy invention of a centrifugal force, which under the circumstances stated is an impossibility. In spite of Newton’s demonstration, it is quite certain that the falling of a stone to the earth is not a phenomenon similar to the motion of the Moon in its orbit: the phenomena bear not the slightest resemblance to each other, nor can they in any true sense be attributed to the same cause . . . The great ‘discovery’ of Newton, viz., ‘universal gravitation,’ thus appears destined to share the fate of the large majority of human inventions, and to take its place with other antiquated ideas in the museum of the extinct system of a progressive science (so-called).
The ridiculous Newtonian idea of the Sun being a fiery furnace; and the notion that the movement of the heavenly bodies is caused by universal gravitation modified by what is popularly known as centrifugal force, are part of the ignorance, almost monkish, of the age in which such teaching were accepted.
The time has surely come when we ought to discard our cant respecting the wonderful reputation of Sir Isaac Newton, and be content to regard him simply, as a mathematician and scientist, scarcely as a philosopher.
Isaac Newton would fit in perfectly with today’s scientists of the modern era where, they are technically scientists, BUT they will sell out and distort figures and back outlandish theories – all for the sake of the masters they serve. Here is a case where a person can be a genius on one hand and an idiot on the other; where a person can be a saint at times and a devil at other times. Perhaps the mindset of greedy executives today can be traced back to the time of Isaac Newton, where someone of brilliance established himself, got a following, then was able to lead his followers down the wrong path.
His treatment of Flamstead and Leibnitz prove him to be morally a very sublunary mortal indeed; and I am inclined to think that if his little pet dog had destroyed a great deal more of his work, the animal would have done the world no disservice.
I should be sorry to violate Sydney Smith’ s injunction, and ‘speak disrespectfully of the equator,’ but I am compelled to speak very disrespectfully of gravitation, and of its principal expounder, Sir Isaac Newton. He is popularly, but erroneously, supposed to have been the discoverer of gravitation, but the fact is he was only its systematizer. His hypotheses or rather paradoxes are no longer alive; they may now be embalmed and buried in the consecrated ground of an Encyclopaedia. The attempt to perpetuate them can only be a stumbling- Lock in the path of true science. I have already shewn— or striven to show— that his system teems with fallacies; and must be exploded. It is not sufficient reply to say that mathematicians of the highest eminence have accepted it and demonstrated its verity. Mathematicians can demonstrate anything IF YOU grant THEM THE DATA WHICH THEY REQUIRE, and from which they must start ; in this case the question is, whether the Newtonian data are correct Mathematicians enjoy no immunity from error any more than any other class of reasoners. Professor Thorold Rogers remarked of mathematicians, that ‘they were generally dunces;’ and of one very distinguished mathematician it was said that ‘he had a very narrow escape of being an idiot.’ But the fact is, mathematics has nothing to do with proving or disproving the Newtonian theories, which are merely AN ERRONEOUS METHOD OF EXPOUNDING CERTAIN PHENOMENA OF NATURE.”