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Conceptions of CosmosFrom Myths to the Accelerating Universe: A History of Cosmology$
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Helge S. Kragh

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199209163

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199209163.001.0001

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The Newtonian Era

The Newtonian Era

2 The Newtonian Era
Conceptions of Cosmos


Oxford University Press

This chapter covers the development from Newton in the 1680s to Hubble in the 1920s. During this long period the law of gravitation became the cornerstone of theoretical astronomy and cosmology. From about 1750 an evolutionary perspective made its entry in cosmological thought, such as illustrated by Kant's cosmology. The evolutionary trend continued in the popular nebular world view of the following century. With the introduction of spectroscopy and thermodynamics, cosmology developed in a more physical direction. For the first time, the content of matter and energy in the universe became part of cosmology. However, the size and structure of the visible universe remained a riddle, to be partially solved only in the 1920s, primarily through the works of Hubble.

Keywords:   Newton, Hubble, gravitation, Kant, spectroscopy, Nebular world view

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