Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tycho was the greatest astronomer

Tycho Brahe was a brilliant astronomer who probably did more to advance accurate observations than anyone.

I got the chart from the recent paper, Astrometric accuracy during the past 2000 years. It has other similar charts.

It shows a lot of later advances in accuracy, but those are mainly technological advances.

At Tycho's time, there had been very little advance in astronomy over the previous millennium. The telescope still had not been invented, but Tycho collected better data than everyone before him put together.

Without Tycho's work, Kepler never could have done what he did, and without Kepler, Newton could not have done what he did. Without Newton, we might still be farmers.

1 comment:

  1. "Without Newton, we might still be farmers."

    That's completely ridiculous. Please inform me of where Newton seriously informed the history of invention. Newton wasn't even used to discover flight, even though it's simple action-reaction displacing air and even upside-down and flat wings can create lift. Physics has had a rather minor role in 90% of pivotal inventions. Even the father of organic chemistry was derided as a glorified beer maker. Oil launched the major increase in living standards. The world was no better off until that point. Many of the advancements in the 20th century were not by theoretical people, much like the past. Edison even made fun of Newton and could never read his Principia.

    "If you were to put an Italian peasant from 1300 in a time machine and drop him in 1870s Tuscany he wouldn’t notice much of a difference. Historians estimate that the average annual income in Italy around the year 1300 was roughly $1,600. Some 600 years later – after Columbus, Galileo, Newton, the scientific revolution, the Reformation and the Enlightenment, the invention of gunpowder, printing, and the steam engine – it was… still $1,600. Six hundred years of civilization, and the average Italian was pretty much where he’d always been. It was not until about 1880, right around the time Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, Thomas Edison patented his lightbulb, Carl Benz was tinkering with his first car, and Josephine Cochrane was ruminating on what may just be the most brilliant idea ever – the dishwasher – that our Italian peasant got swept up in the march of progress."

    See the figures presented by the historians Angus Maddison, J. Bolt, and J.L. van Zanden, “The First Update of the Maddison Project; Re-Estimating Growth Before 1820,” Maddison Project Working Paper 4 (2013). http://www.ggdc.net/maddison/maddison-project/home.htm