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This article deals with the history of classical mechanics.
The ancient Greek philosophers, Aristotle in particular, were among the first to propose that abstract principles govern nature. Aristotle argued, in On the Heavens, that terrestrial bodies rise or fall to their “natural place” and stated as a law the correct approximation that an object’s speed of fall is proportional to its weight and inversely proportional to the density of the fluid it is falling through.
Aristotle believed in logic and observation but it would be more than eighteen hundred years before Francis Bacon would first develop the scientific method of experimentation, which he called a vexation of nature.
Aristotle saw a distinction between “natural motion” and “forced motion”, and he believed that ‘in a void’ i.e.vacuum, a body at rest will remain at rest and a body in motion will continue to have the same motion. In this way, Aristotle was the first to approach something similar to the law of inertia. However, he believed a vacuum would be impossible because the surrounding air would rush in to fill it immediately. He also believed that an object would stop moving in an unnatural direction once the applied forces were removed. Later Aristotelians developed an elaborate explanation for why an arrow continues to fly through the air after it has left the bow, proposing that an arrow creates a vacuum in its wake, into which air rushes, pushing it from behind. Aristotle’s beliefs were influenced by Plato’s teachings on the perfection of the circular uniform motions of the heavens. As a result, he conceived of a natural order in which the motions of the heavens were necessarily perfect, in contrast to the terrestrial world of changing elements, where individuals come to be and pass away.