Astrophysics & Cosmology

Glasgow, 55.8700° N, 4.2700° W



A historical Hubble Deep Field photograph.What is Physics?

Physics concerns itself with measurable values and quantifiable events to study the nature and properties of matter, and its kinematics or its motion through space and time.  Physicists use the scientific method to define the constants governing physical phenomena, and their philosophy reflects on the results obtained from this empirical research.  It calls upon abstract concepts like force and energy to make it possible to predict the course of natural phenomena.

Exciting, yes?



A photograph of some standard algebraic identities.Do I Need To Understand Maths and Algebra?

It will help.  To make predictions, mathematics is necessary… and more to the point it is helpful too.  Maths is altogether beautiful.  Paul Dirac is credited for saying: “It seems that if one is working from the point of view of getting beauty in one’s equations, and if one has really a sound insight, one is on a sure line of progress.”

And it gets even more exciting…  Because the laws of Physics and Mathematics apply to other parts of the Universe, whether distant in time or space, in the same way they operate on Earth today.



A Brief Timeline of Astronomy

Astronomical science more or less starts around 300 BC in various parts around the World, and with much different World Views.  For many centuries now, people have clearly felt an almost instinctive fascination for the night sky.  Cosmology dates back a long time ago too.  A different approach to celestial phenomena is taken by natural philosophers Plato and Aristotle who attempt to rationalize the dynamics of the Cosmos, rather than develop mathematical models…

Back then, Aristarchus reasons that the motions of celestial bodies may be explained by the fact that Earth and the other planets in the Solar System orbit the Sun.  ‘Heliocentrism’ is then considered a heresy.  For centuries afterwards, the apparent common sense view of a geocentric world remains unchallenged, reinforced by the model developed by Ptolemy.  The idea gets eventually revisited by Nicolaus Copernicus in the 16th century.

1610, Galileo Galilei documents the orbits of the four brightest moons in his observations of the planet Jupiter.  His results are in direct contradiction with the largely held geocentric doctrine of the Catholic Church.  Galileo pleads that his astronomy is a merely abstract work of mathematics, not of natural philosophy, to spare himself a dreadful fate.

A not-to-scale diagram showing the planets of the Solar system in their orbits around the Sun.Many revolutions later…

Along comes Johannes Kepler, and later on Isaac Newton, the world view shifts again…

During the 20th century, the Standard Model provides an altogether different view upon things.

Nowadays, astrophysics describes the physical processes that occur within and around galaxies, stars, gas clouds and celestial moving bodies, as well as their interactions and dynamic behaviour, and beyond…



How We Learn About the Stars and their Motions



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Little 'Bytes' about Natural Phenomena, Theoretical Physics and the Latest Worldwide Scientific Findings. Edited from Glasgow, Scotland.


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