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The Plausibility of Galileo's Tidal Theory

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In Galileo's opinion, his most important argument for the Earth's motion was based on his theory of the tides that combined the Earth's rotation with its orbital motion so that it alternately accelerates and decelerates the sea. His theory deliberately ignored the Moon's influence, which at that time was generally regarded as occult. Galileo's confidence in his theory was strongly reinforced by its providing a mechanical model. That a theory that ignored the Moon's influence could seem plausible is confirmed by comparison with the theories of Bacon and Wallis. That Galileo's theory could seem plausible despite encountering difficulties is confirmed by comparison with Newton's theory, which is deeply flawed by its inclusion of a vertical response to the total tidal force. That many people now regard Galileo's theory as wrong is due to our having absorbed as natural Newton's idea of lunar attraction.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University College, University of Manitoba, Dysart Road, MB R3T 2M8, Canada. 2: Department of History, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg MB R3B 2E9, Canada.

Publication date: 2011-08-01

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