- Newton's Laws
Isaac Newton also used direct observation to formulate his laws.
Newton was in government service for many years. His first law states:
* A body at rest tends to remain at rest, while a body in motion at a constant velocity in a straight line tends to continue in that motion.
Clearly, this law is based on first-hand observation of a bureaucracy in action.
One night, Newton became engaged in a heated argument at a local bar over a question of epicycles, leading him to punch his opponent in the nose. After being thoroughly worked over, Newton comtemplated the results and announced his next law:
* Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
In a well-known story, Newton discovered gravity when he was hit on the head while sitting under an apple tree. This tale is, of course, fictitious. It was actually a fig tree, and the result was his best-known theory:
* I bet you could make a swell cookie out of these figs.
You can read more of Tom Weller's 1986 Hugo Award winner Science Made Stupid here.
I especially like his chapter on the Earth. At last, someone ties in Shakespeare with atmospheric dynamics. But this chart of geological periods is disturbingly similar to one I marked in a recent exam. I wish I were making that up.
Hat tip to dark* :)