An Attempt to Prove the Motion of the Earth from Observations (1674)

Robert Hooke


... And shall only for the present hint that I have in some of my foregoing observations discovered some new Motions even in the Earth it self, which perhaps were not dreamt of before, which I shall hereafter more at large describe, when further tryals have more fully confirmed and compleated these beginings. At which time also I shall explain a System of the World differing in many particulars from any yet known, answering in all things to the common Rules of Mechanical Motions: This depends upon three Suppositions:

First, That all Coelestial Bodies whatsoever, have an attraction or gravitating power towards their own Centers, whereby they attract not only their own parts, and keep them from flying from them, as we may observe the Earth to do, but that they do also attract all the other Coelestial Bodies that are within the sphere of their activity; and consequently that not only the Sun and Moon have an influence upon the body and motion of the Earth, and the Earth upon them, but that also Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn by their attractive powers, have a considerableinfluence upon its motion as in the same manner the corresponding attractive power of the Earth hath a considerable influence upon every one of their motions also.

The second supposition is this, That all bodies whatsoever that are put into a direct and simple motion, will so continue to move forward in a streight line, till they are by some other effectual powers deflected and bent into a Motion, describing a Circle, Ellipsis, or some other more compounded Curve Line.

The third supposition is, That these attractive powers are so much the more powerful in operating, by how much the nearer the body wrought upon is to their own Centers. Now what these several degrees are I have not yet experimentally verified; but it is a notion, which if fully prosecuted as it ought to be, will mightily assist the Astronomer to reduce all the Coelestial Motions to a certain rule, which I doubt will never be done true without it. He that understands the nature of the Circular Pendulum and Circular Motion, will easily understand the whole ground of this Principle, and will know where to find direction in Nature for the true stating thereof.

This I only hint at present to such as have ability and opportunity of prosecuting this Inquiry, and are not wanting of Industry for observing and calculating, wishing heartily such may be found, having my self many other things in hand which I would first compleat, and therefore cannot so well attent it. But this I durst promise the Undertaker, that he will find all the great Motions of the World to be influenced by this Principle, and that the true understanding thereof will be the true perfection of Astronomy.

Reading and Discussion Question

1.Hooke would later claim that Newton should have given him credit for these ideas in the Principia. Do you think that Hooke has a good case?

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