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Torricell's correspondence on ballistics

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Torricelli elaborated the theory of ballistics as part of Galileo's theory of motion. In 1647 he had an interesting exchange of letters with G. B. Renieri, from Genoa, who complained that some experiments he had made with guns contradicted Galileo's theory. The correspondence discloses some fundamental issues of the Seventeenth century Scientific Revolution, the main one being to what extent mathematics can be applied to physics. Torricelli's view on this issue is ambivalent. He defends Galileo's kinematics as the correct description of reality yet says that mathematics does not describe reality. It is suggested that this ambivalence is an outcome of the climate of uncertainty which followed Galileo's trial.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: The Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, Tel-Aviv University, 69978, Tel-Aviv, Israel

Publication date: September 1, 1983

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