Inertia

Inertia

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Centuries of thought and experimentation by several of the greatest minds to ever walk the earth have contributed to the awareness of this property of matter known as Inertia. It all began with the investigation of an ancient Greek scientist and philosopher by the name of Aristotle. Through countless observations and hypotheses, Aristotle grew almost certain of a few things involving motion.
     Aristotle’s findings suggested mainly that Earthly objects seek their natural place at rest. This natural place related to earth, water, air and fire respectably. He also believed that motion must be subjected to unnatural force, meaning motion could not come about without it. In order to maintain this motion, Aristotle stated that force must be applied to the object constantly. These four statements were considered concrete in the world of physics for nearly two thousand years after Aristotle’s passing. It would take an Italian physicist and astronomer named Galileo to eventually disprove his thoughts on motion.
     Galileo proposed his formulation of the concept of inertia, which is the property of matter that causes it to resist any change of its motion in either direction or speed. In other words, if an object in a state of motion possesses an “inertia”, it causes the object to remain in that state of motion unless an external force acts on it. Galileo figured this out by first meticulously observing Aristotle’s concept of motion. By virtue of a series of experiments, Galileo realized that the analysis of Aristotle was incorrect because it failed to account properly for a hidden force, the frictional force between the surface and the object. For example if one were to push a block of wood across a table, there would be two opposing forces that act, one of them being the force associated with the push and the other, the force that is associated with the friction, which acts in the opposite direction. Galileo realized as the frictional forces were decreased the object would move further and further before stopping.
     An English mathematician and physicist by the name of Sir Issac Newton would later develop Galilieo’s idea of inertia into one of his three scientific laws. Aware of other factors that played a roll in the theory of inertia, Newton proposed two other laws that supported it. They are included in his famous three laws of motion. The first law of motion states "a body in motion shall remain in motion moving with a constant speed and direction, unless acted on by an outside force".

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The second law of motion states "the magnitude of the force is proportional to the mass of the object being moved and the product of its change in velocity with respect to time". The third law of motion states "for every force there is an equal opposite force".
     Although Galileo might have proved Aristotle wrong, the simple fact that Aristotle thought of the concept to begin with proved to be paramount in the world of science, specifically the branch known as physics. In other words if Aristotle hadn’t proposed his theory of motion, Galileo would probably not have even thought of “motion”, let alone make observations on it. Therefore inertia and the other laws of motion should be credited to these three men and everyone else involved.
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