Tuesday, February 8, 2011
The Electromagnetic Gravity of Lucretius
"Athwart the rain thou seest the lightning fly;
Now here, now there, bursting from out the clouds,
The fires dash zig-zag- and that flaming power
Falls likewise down to earth.
In these affairs
We wish thee also well aware of this:
The atoms, as their own weight bears them down
Plumb through the void...."
-- T. Lucretius Carus, philosopher poet, On the Nature of Things, Book II, 50 B.C.
Lucretius connected electricity and gravity in 50 B.C.
"One copy of this poem survived, and when printing was invented [sic] in the fifteenth century, it was one of the first ancient classics to be printed." -- Isaac Asimov, author, Understanding Physics, 1966
"Even so, one copy (only one!) survived through the Middle Ages and was discovered in 1417. It was recopied and then, half a century later, when printing came into use, Lucretius's poem was one of the first to be printed." -- Isaac Asimov, author, Atom, 1992
"When Lucretius, two hundred years later, turned the philosophy of Epicurus into poetry, he added, so far as can be judged, nothing theoretical to the master's teaching." -- Bertrand Russell, philosopher, A History of Western Philosophy, 1972
Since Epicurus got his science from Democritus the polymath, it follows that likewise Democritus made this connection between electricity and gravity.
"Epicurus too, I consider, in physics at least, a mere pupil of Democritus. He makes a few changes, or many if you wish. But on the majority of points, and certainly on the most important ones, he does not innovate. The same goes for the Stoics, who fail to acknowledge the extent of their debt to the real pioneers." -- Marcus T. Cicero, philosopher, On Moral Ends, Book IV, 1st century B.C.