Quite simply, Newton’s first law of dynamics states, “If there are no external forces acting on a body or the acting forces are balanced, the body remains at rest or moves in a uniform straight line.” But is this really true?
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When Isaac Newton wrote his famous laws of motion on parchment in 1687, he had no idea we would be learning them in school three centuries later. Three universal principles written in Latin determine the way things move in the universe as we know it. It has been translated, transcribed and discussed in detail many times, however According to a philosopher of language and mathematics from Virginia Tech -Daniel Hook – Wrong.
This law of physics determines the motion of all objects in the universe
A translation of the original Latin text by Isaac Newton Mathematical principles of natural philosophy Into English by Andrew Mott in 1729. Daniel Hooke discovered a small but important error, which he described in Philosophy of science. He calls it a “clumsy mistranslation,” but in the case of exact sciences it is important that it be truly “accurate.”
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Hooke realized that this common paraphrase contained a misinterpretation that had escaped attention until 1999. That’s when two scholars pointed out the translation of one overlooked Latin word: “quatenus,” which means “unless,” “unless,” that.
Contrary to appearances, it makes a big difference. Instead of describing how an object would retain its momentum if no forces acted on it, Hooke says the new reading shows that Newton meant that every change in an object’s momentum — every jolt, dip, or boom — was due to external forces.
The new translation published in 1999 contains a number of significant deviations from the 1729 translation, but the phrase “in so far as” is the most significant. Most notable is the change in the original translation to:
Every body remains at rest or moves in regular straight lines unless this state is changed by the forces acting on it.
This has major implications for the effects of the law. Newton’s version does not require bodies free from forces, while Mott’s mistranslation generates exactly the kind of controversy that has been observed over the centuries. Some have argued that Newton’s second law implies the first law, making it redundant.
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Hooke believes that the reinterpretation did not and will not change physics, but a careful analysis of Newton’s writings shows what the leading mathematician of the time was thinking. If we accept the common interpretation of bodies moving in straight lines until some force forces them to do otherwise, the question arises: Why would Newton write a law about bodies free from external forces if such a thing does not exist in our universe? When gravity and friction are always present? Newton gave three specific examples to illustrate his first law, and Hooke says the most obvious example is the rotating top, which moves in an increasingly narrow spiral due to air friction.
This revised interpretation, Hooke says, is reminiscent of one of Newton’s most fundamental ideas, which was quite revolutionary at the time. This means that planets, stars, and other celestial bodies are subject to the same physical laws as objects on Earth.
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