Laws of Motion (Encyclopedia of Science)
The term laws of motion generally refers to three statements originally devised by English physicist Isaac Newton (1642727) in the 1680s. These laws, along with Newton's law of gravitation, are generally considered to be the ultimate solution to a problem that had troubled scholars for more than 2,000 years: motion.
Examples of motion are everywhere in the world around us. What makes a rock fall off a cliff? How does a skate slide across an icy surface? What keeps the planets in their orbits around the Sun? It is only natural, then, that questions about motion were foremost in the minds of ancient philosophers and physicists.
Greek philosopher Aristotle (38422 B.C.), for example, tried to find the causes of motion. He said that some forms of motion were "natural." Rocks fall toward the ground because the ground is a natural place for rocks to be. Objects rise into the air when they are heated because the Sun is hot, and so it is natural for heat to rise.
Aristotle classified other forms of motion as "violent" because they were not natural to his way of thinking. For example, shooting an arrow through space produced violent motion since the arrow's natural tendency was to fall straight down toward Earth.
Aristotle's thinking about motion dominated Western thought for 2,000 years....
(The entire section is 1119 words.)
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