How Galileo dropped the ball and fermat picked it up

Synthese 180 (3):337-356 (2011)
This paper introduces a little-known episode in the history of physics, in which a mathematical proof by Pierre Fermat vindicated Galileo’s characterization of freefall. The first part of the paper reviews the historical context leading up to Fermat’s proof. The second part illustrates how a physical and a mathematical insight enabled Fermat’s result, and that a simple modification would satisfy any of Fermat’s critics. The result is an illustration of how a purely theoretical argument can settle an apparently empirical debate.
Keywords Foundations of physics  History of mathematics  Freefall  Acceleration  Galileo  Fermat
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.2307/41477562
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,661
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Galileo Galilei & Stillman Drake (1954). Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 5 (19):253-256.
Stillman Drake (1975). Free Fall From Albert of Saxony to Honoré Fabri. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 5 (4):347-366.
Stillman Drake (1975). Impetus Theory Reappraised. Journal of the History of Ideas 36 (1):27.

View all 6 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

41 ( #81,463 of 1,725,958 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

6 ( #109,857 of 1,725,958 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.