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 Catholic Scientists

Theodoric of Freiberg (c. 1250 c. 1310) was a German member of the Dominican order and a theologian and physicist. He was named provincial of the Dominican Order in 1293, Albert the Great's old post.  Dietrich became a Dominican friar

gave the first geometrical analysis of the rainbow

While 13th century authors failed to provide an accurate explanation for the rainbow, at the turn of the fourteenth century Theodoric was able to give one of the first correct geometrical analyses of this phenomenon, which was "probably the most dramatic development of 14th- and 15th-century optics". [1][2]

Thomas Bradwardine (c. 1290 1349) was an English cleric, scholar, mathematician, physicist, courtier and, very briefly, Archbishop of Canterbury. As a celebrated scholastic philosopher and doctor of theology, he is often called Doctor Profundus, (medieval epithet, meaning "the Profound Doctor").

Merton College sheltered a group of dons devoted to natural science, mainly physics, astronomy and mathematics, rivals of the intellectuals at the University of Paris. Bradwardine was one of these Oxford Calculators, studying mechanics with William Heytesbury, Richard Swineshead, and John Dumbleton. The Oxford Calculators distinguished kinematics from dynamics, emphasising kinematics, and investigating instantaneous velocity. They first formulated the mean speed theorem: a body moving with constant velocity travels the same distance as an accelerated body in the same time if its velocity is half the final speed of the accelerated body. They also demonstrated this theorem the foundation of "The Law of Falling Bodies" long before Galileo, who is generally credited with it.

The mathematical physicist and historian of science Clifford Truesdell, wrote: [3]

The now published sources prove to us, beyond contention, that the main kinematical properties of uniformly accelerated motions, still attributed to Galileo by the physics texts, were discovered and proved by scholars of Merton college....

Bradwardine's theories on the insolubles including the liar paradox were a great influence on the work of Jean Buridan

The simplest version of the paradox is the sentence:

This statement is false. (A)

This statement is not true. (B)

If (B) is neither true nor false, then it must be not true. Since this is what (B) itself states, it means that (B) must be true. Since initially (B) was not true and is now true, another paradox arises.

 See : Can God Lie ?

Nicole Oresme (c. 1325 1382), was a significant philosopher of the later Middle Ages. He wrote influential works on economics, mathematics, physics, astrology and astronomy, philosophy, and theology; was Bishop of Lisieux, a translator, a counselor of King Charles V of France, and probably one of the most original thinkers of 14th-century Europe.[5]

A page from Oresme's Livre du ciel et du monde, 1377, showing the celestial spheres

In his Livre du ciel et du monde Oresme discussed a range of evidence for and against the daily rotation of the Earth on its axis.[9] From astronomical considerations, he maintained that if the Earth were moving and not the celestial spheres, all the movements that we see in the heavens that are computed by the astronomers would appear exactly the same as if the spheres were rotating around the Earth. He rejected the physical argument that if the Earth were moving the air would be left behind causing a great wind from east to west. In his view the Earth, Water, and Air would all share the same motion.[10] As to the scriptural passage that speaks of the motion of the Sun, he concludes that "this passage conforms to the customary usage of popular speech" and is not to be taken literally.[11] He also noted that it would be more economical for the small Earth to rotate on its axis than the immense sphere of the stars.[12] Nonetheless, he concluded that none of these arguments were conclusive and "everyone maintains, and I think myself, that the heavens do move and not the Earth."[13]

Georgius Agricola (1494 1555) was a German Catholic, scholar and scientist. Known as "the father of mineralogy"

He was also elected burgomaster of Chemnitz. His popularity was, however, short-lived. Chemnitz was a violent centre of the Protestant movement, while Agricola never wavered in his allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church ...

he was forced to resign his office.

In spite of the early proof that Agricola had given of the tolerance of his own religious attitude, he was not suffered to end his days in peace. He remained to the end a staunch Catholic, though all Chemnitz had gone over to the Lutheran creed, and it is said that his life was ended by a fit of apoplexy brought on by a heated discussion with a Protestant divine. He died in Chemnitz on 21 November 1555; so violent was the theological feeling against him, he was not allowed to be buried in the town to which he had added such lustre. Amidst hostile demonstrations, he was carried to Zeitz, some 50 kilometers away, and buried there.

Giovanni Alfonso Borelli (1608 1679) was a Renaissance Italian physiologist, physicist, and mathematician. Trained in mathematics, Borelli also made extensive studies of Jupiter's moons, the mechanics of animal locomotion and, in microscopy, of the constituents of blood. He also used microscopy to investigate the stomatal movement of plants, and undertook studies in medicine and geology. During his career, he enjoyed the patronage of Queen Christina of Sweden.

 ... eventually earning him the title of the Father of Biomechanics. ...

Borelli returned to Messina in 1668 but was quickly forced into exile for suspected involvement in political conspiracies. Here he first became acquainted with ex-Queen Christina of Sweden who had also been exiled to Rome for converting to Catholicism. Borelli lived the rest of his years in poverty, teaching basic mathematics at the school of the convent where he had been allowed to live. He never saw the publication of his masterwork, De Motu Animalium (On the Movement of Animals) as it was published posthumously, financed by Christina and his benefactors at the convent.

For these discoveries, Borelli is labeled as the father of modern biomechanics and the American Society of Biomechanics uses the Borelli Award as its highest honour for research in the area.


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