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Today I was shocked to see that Newton was a plagiarist who gave no credit to Aristotle when he came up with his first law of motion. I had mentioned the old philosophical theory of plenism in my previous discussion subject about photons, so it was necessary to find out more about this and saw that it's linked to the Greek thinker's idea about Nature disliking vacuums, or "horror vacui".

In the Wikipedia entry on the latter they include the following passage of his PHYSICS (Book IV, Section 8).

"In a void, no one could say why a thing once set in motion should stop anywhere, for why should it stop here rather than there, so that a thing will either be at rest or must be moved 'ad infinitum', unless something more powerful gets in its way."

That's precisely the first law of motion.

... but that's not all. On that same passage he also anticipates the rule that division by zero is meaningless (we say "undetermined"), which I thought belonged exclusively to modern mathematics.

"(...) there is no ratio of 0 to a number, for if 4 exceeds 3 by 1, and 2 by more than 1, and 1 by still more than it exceeds 2, still there is no ratio by which it exceeds 0; for that which exceeds must be divisible into the excess plus that which is exceeded, so that will be what it exceeds 0 by plus 0."

Our explanation is quite different and embarrassingly more roundabout, but the conclusion is the same. We start by saying that, for instance ...

8 ÷ 2 = x

... which, since dividing is exactly the opposite of multiplying, means that ...

2 • x = 8

We must find a number that multiplied by 2 gives us 8, and so, as anybody will discover ...

x = 4

Now let's see what happens if you divide 8 by zero and apply the same procedure:

8 ÷ 0 = x

... means that ...

0 • x = 8

... but since we can't find any value for x that will fit there, because all numbers multiplied by zero give us zero, we say that 8 ÷ 0 is "undefined".

... but someone could say: so what if we divide zero by zero and apply the procedure? Wouldn't it work in that case, since ...

0 ÷ 0 = x

... means ...

0 • x = 0

... and ...

x = 0?

Yes, but x could also be equal to 1, or 5, or 7,524.009, or -14 ...

x = 1

x = 5

x = 7,524.009

x = -14

That x could be ANY number, and since in our modern mathematics we always want to get the same answer for a problem, whoever it is that tries to solve it, then 0 ÷ 0 is undefined, period.

... so what was explained in just one sentence two millennia ago we explain in what looks like an entire treatise. Who has been outwitted by whom???

... but that second matter was a distraction, just to show once again that "there's nothing new under the sun" (also something said a long time ago). Many years ago I had found out that infinitesimal calculus is not a recent idea either. Archimedes's "exhaustion method" anticipated it more than 2 ,000 years ago.

...but going back to what's the main topic here, some people accuse Einstein of stealing other people's ideas, including those of Poincare` ("accent aigu" on the letter e there, not "accent grave", which is somewhat like what my crazy tablet has) and Lorentz (cp. the Lorentz transformation), because he gave no due credit in his famous 1905 research paper on the special or restricted theory of relativity (not "special relativity" because what's special, or general, is the theory, not relativity), but bearing the rather misleading title "On the electrodynamics of moving bodies". He didn't bother to give a list of sources, something all credible papers are expected to have.

... so it turns out that he invented no theories: all he did was appropriate them. Newton was aware of the fact that matter and energy are interchangeable and he expressed it in his own way, thus: "Gross bodies and light are convertible into one another."

Newton, then, slyly grabbed Aristotelian lore and nobody ever told me about it --if I hadn't accidentally happened upon this, I would never have found out-- but then the same thing was done unto him, so the latter cancels out the former and he may now finally R.I.P. in Westminster Abbey.

Even the energy-mass equation was not really his own. At least another three people had had the same idea before 1905: Poincare`, Olinto de Pretto and S. Tolver Preston.

Eventually this case of plagiarism will have to be recognized by the scientific community, and the scandal will be at least as shocking as what I have just found in something written in the 4th century B.C.

Millikan, too, did it. It was his lab helper who suggested that he use oil drops, not water drops, to measure the charge of a single electron, but Millikan never told the world about it, a serious case of scientific dishonesty.

...and it was Lise Meitner, not Otto Hahn, who understood what was happening in his nuclear experiments and had to explain it all to him, but it was he who was given a Nobel Prize for the discovery of nuclear fission. All he had was the hardware. It was she who had the necessary brainpower.

A rover named after Rosalind Elsie Franklin will be sent to Mars, much too late to give the credit she deserved and for which she should have shared a Nobel Prize with Watson and Crick for the discovery of the structure of DNA.

In the Einsteinian fashion, I refuse to mention any sources, because in our time it's all on the Net, and they keep saying to us that what's not there doesn't exist.

All of the above would seem to be out of place at a website on astronomy and astronautics, but no: without the Newtonian laws of motion, rocket science would have been impossible, especially without the third one, the one about action and reaction, and there you also have the complaint about Rosalind Franklin and the device bearing her name that will fly all the way over to another planet.