Sunday, April 22, 2007

Born This Day: Immanuel Kant

April 22, 1724 – Feb. 12, 1804

Kant was a German philosopher, trained as a mathematician and physicist, who published his General History of Nature and theory of the Heavens in 1755. This physical view of the universe contained three anticipations of importance to astronomers;

Metaphysics explained by Robert Williams.
1. He made the nebula hypothesis ahead of Laplace.

2. He described the Milky Way as a lens-shaped collection of stars that represented only one of many "island universes," later shown by Herschel.

3. He suggested that friction from tides slowed the rotation of the earth, which was confirmed a century later. In 1770 he became a professor of mathematics, but turned to metaphysics and logic in 1797, the field in which he is best known. link

His theme song: