Relativity of Motion: The Moving Ship Thought Experiment

Relativity of Motion Learning Leaflet

Why do we have no eyewitness reports refuting Aristotle's physics? 

Galileo's "Dialogue on the Two Chief Systems of the World" includes a discussion about dropping balls from the mast of both a moving ship and a ship at rest in order to test the theory of inertia. If sailors actually had performed the experiment, believing with Aristotle that a cannonball dropped from the mast would fall harmlessly into the wake of the ship, why were no reports made to the contrary? This OER features a cartoon answering that question.


Exhibit: Galileo's World

Series: Starting Points

Subject Area(s): Physics

File Type: pdf

OER Type: Learning Leaflet