Palomäki, Jari


Galileo's Thought Experiment Revindicated: The Methods of Dimensional Analysis

In his famous thought experiment Galileo Galilei (1632/1974) asks us first to imagine a heavy ball (H) and a light ball (L). According to Aristotle's view the heavier ball should fall faster than the light one (H > L). Next, he asks us to imagine that the heavy ball is attached by a string to the light ball so that we would get combined balls (H + L). Then reasoning in the Aristotelian way, the light ball would slow down the heavy one so that the combined balls would fall slower than the heavy ball alone (H + L < H). On the other hand, since the combined balls are heavier than the heavy ball alone, the combined balls would fall faster than the heavy ball alone (H + L > H); a contradiction. The contradiction is resolved by presenting that they all fall at the same speed (H + L = H = L), which was then empirically justified.

Cite: Palomäki, Jari 2024. Galileis' thought experiment. Holistic Science Publications, Holistic Archive, Finland.