Archive for April, 2011

Newton’s “law” of gravitation corrected

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

On the occasion of Gagarin’s 50th anniversary and Ambedkar Jayanti take a look at my article

This corrects (the conceptual defect in) Newton’s “law” of gravitation, and explains the anomalous orbits of NASA spacecraft, and also stars in the galaxy, which that “law” cannot explain (and which have not been explained using general relativity either).

This completes the story. Newtonian physics was based on the calculus which developed in India, as the work of the low-caste 5th c. Aryabhata from Patna. It was adopted by the highest-caste Namboodri Brahmins of Kerala, from the 8th c. onwards, and developed further. In the 16th c. this work was secretly transmitted by Jesuits from Cochin to Europe for it contained accurate trigonometric values (accurate to the 9th decimal place) which Europeans badly needed for navigation—then their biggest scientific challenge.

However, the Indian way of calculating these trigonometric values by summing infinite series was beyond the comprehension of intellects like Descartes and Newton, because European ideas of mathematics were (and still are) mixed-up with religious beliefs about mathematics as eternal truth. (See my book, Cultural Foundations of Mathematics, Pearson Longman, 2007.)

Newton thought his doctrine of fluxions made calculus “rigorous” when it only made time metaphysical (see e.g. my paper, “Time: What is it That it can be Measured?” Science&Education, 15(6) (2006) pp. 537–551, or draft ).

This intrusion of religious beliefs into physics both directly and through Western mathematics was the reason Newton’s “laws” failed.


Khwaza Nasiruddin Tusi and Copernicus

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

Believing the propaganda regarding trouble in Iran, I nearly postponed my visit there. However, the situation was entirely peaceful, even at Khorramshahr, the border with Iraq. There was an invasion of dust, so all flights were cancelled, and we had to travel back to Tehran by road, a distance of some 18 hours.  Here is what the dust haze looked like.

A sunken ship as seen in the dust haze
Remarkably, the Iranian Deputy Minister for Education, who was among those who attended the meet at Khorramshahr, also travelled back by bus, and stopped at wayside dhabas to eat and watch TV. I  did not see any guns, except those pointed at Iraq. I cannot imagine an Indian minister travelling thus, for they are always fearful, and seen only with gunmen even in meetings of philosophers in this “stable democracy” called India. Even the centre of Delhi is infested with guns, but no one says there is any trouble in India!

But then, this sort of propaganda is to be expected from those who passed off the priest Copernicus as a revolutionary scientist, though all he did was to translate the work of Ibn Shatir and the Maragheh  astronomers from Greek (into which it had already been translated) to Latin. Of course, he claimed “independent rediscovery”, as Europeans invariably did, for he could hardly have risked being tortured by the Inquisition like his friend Scultetus.

It was a real treat to visit Maragheh and see Tusi’s observatory at first hand.

 Nasiruddin Tusi\'s Observatory