By James Bailey
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Additional resources for After Thought
Since Newton, we have taken it for granted that time is something independent of motion, and we always express it by means of numbers. The geometric meaning of time, however, survives in everyday language. " It was the geometric definition that the astronomers used: "What is time? 6 It was unthinkable that the heavens go faster or slower, because they were the definitions of time as well as of motion. The two competing concep- THE FIRST FICTION 47 tions of time, one geometric and the other numerical, manifested themselves explicitly in the forerunners to the mechanical clock.
Decades after the invention of the printing press, there were still none in print. The publisher of the first one, an edition of Euclid, explained why in his introduction to that work: I was puzzled why the enormous output of the printers of Venice has included so few of the mathematical works of the ancient masters. I have discovered the reason: the extreme difficulty of including the diagrams without which the most significant works are incomprehensible. I committed myself to the labors of binding text elements and geometric figures together in the press.
For a while, the Catholic tradition of openness to scientific speculation THE FIRST FICTION 45 held; it was Luther who first denounced Copernicus's theory as blasphemy. By Galileo's later years, however, the Catholic Counter-Reformation, the militant Society of Jesus, and the establishment of the Inquisition added up to a much less tolerant environment: The churches lost their nerve... Throughout the early and medieval times [ongoing] faithfulness was achieved by a dynamic process of rethinking the past in the light of current experience and of the best knowledge available.
After Thought by James Bailey