Frame of Reference

Geocentric model and HeliocentrismImage via Wikipedia

In 1543, Copernicus published a book in which he systematically and scientifically justified the heliocentric model of the universe. This was a major shift from the old Aristotelian model where the Earth was at the center of the universe and all other bodies rotated around it.

This is often hailed a major milestone and a start of the scientific revolution, but really it is an example, on a grand scale, of what the scientific process is.

An interesting fact about the Aristotelian model that is not often mentioned is that this model is still entirely accurate for viewing the celestial bodies. One can track and predict exactly where a star or planet will appear in the night sky using the model. It is not inaccurate because it doesn’t work, it is inaccurate because it doesn’t represent the whole picture.

What Copernicus did in his new model was to recognize that our frame of reference was part of the system and therefore could not possibly offer the true model. Copernicus had to shake people of their reliance on sight alone to form their reference.

Today, science once again is set in its reliance on the frame of reference provided by our senses. But to say that these five senses are all encompassing and that nothing exists that cannot be observed by these senses is to end up in a contradiction, for why bother to expand our knowledge since knowledge cannot be observed by the senses?

We have reached a barrier. In order to get a truer picture of our universe, we need to take a step back, just as Copernicus did, and look from outside the box of our five senses. Some would say that this moves into the realm of philosophy, but if the scientific community wants to make truth claims about models that enfold their own frame of reference, that is exactly the realm into which they must move.

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