The Science of Mechanics

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Read Books, Mar 1, 2007 - Science - 624 pages
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About the author (2007)

Educated by his father, who stressed the importance of carpentry and farming, Ernst Mach received his Ph.D. from the University of Vienna in 1860. Mach made many contributions to science in a variety of fields, but he is best known for his powerful influence on several generations of scientists as a critic of science and as a philosopher. His initial research in experimental psychology revealed the function of the semicircular canals of the ear. Mach is best known in physics for his work on shock waves, which led to the mach number being introduced in 1929 as a measure of speed. The mach number is the ratio of the speed of an object in a fluid to the speed of sound in the fluid. Mach is also known to cosmologists for his controversial statement of the principle of inertia, called Mach's principle. The Mach principle rejected the Newtonian notion of absolute space and time. Mach's elimination of absolute space was part of his more general program in which he hoped to eliminate metaphysics (all those purely "thought-things" that cannot be pointed to in experience) from science. His views influenced the important philosophical movement of logical positivism and also had some impact on scientific practice, especially Einstein in formulating his theory of relativity. Despite his influence, Mach was a radical thinker who never accepted the existence of atoms or Einstein's theory of relativity.

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