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The Enigma Of The Universe : 2. Pre-Einsteinian Scientific Concept

Published: 08.09.2014
Updated: 02.07.2015

The theory of space and time propounded by Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) had been accepted unanimously in the scientific field before the advent of Einstein's theory of relativity. Newton had established his theory on the basis of the philosophical views of French philosopher Gassendi. Newton, like Gassendi, accepted space as an absolute entity. Regarding space, he, as he tells us in his world-famous Principia, held: "Absolute space, in its own nature without regard to anything external, remains always similar and immovable."[1]

Further, Newton maintains: "All things are placed in space as regards order of situation."[2] That is to say, the earth aad the heavenly bodies are situated in an immovable container, of boundless extent, which exists, and has always existed, independently of whether it is observed by perceiving minds or not, and independently of whether it is occupied at any particular place or not. It is the scene of all that happens in the physical universe; at any instant, every material body is located somewherein it, and has the possibility of changing from one location to another. Its size is infinite, its character uniform, its texture continuous, and its geometry Euclidean; and the business of the physicist is to account for all phenomena in terms of the motions and mutual actions of particles situated in it.[3]

Similarly, Newton's concept of time was: "Absolute, true and mathematical time of itself, and from its own nature, flows equally without regard to anything external."[4]

From the above concepts of space and time, it becomes clear that Newton considered both space and time as independent objective realities, their existence being neither dependent upon the percipient nor the things sustained or related by them.


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Title: The Enigma Of The Universe Publisher: JVB University Ladnun English Edition: 2010 HN4U Online Edition: 2014

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Berkeley
  2. Body
  3. Eddington
  4. Euclid
  5. Gassendi
  6. Isaac Newton
  7. Newton
  8. Space
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