Ideas of Physical Forces and Differential Calculus in Ancient India

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Girish, T. E. ; Nair, C. Radhakrishnan (2010)
  • Subject: Physics - General Physics

We have studied the context and development of the ideas of physical forces and differential calculus in ancient India by studying relevant literature related to both astrology and astronomy since pre-Greek periods. The concept of Naisargika Bala (natural force) discussed in Hora texts from India is defined to be proportional to planetary size and inversely related to planetary distance. This idea developed several centuries prior to Isaac Newton resembles fundamental physical forces in nature especially gravity. We show that the studies on retrograde motion and Chesta Bala of planets like Mars in the context of astrology lead to development of differential calculus and planetary dynamics in ancient India. The idea of instantaneous velocity was first developed during the 1st millennium BC and Indians could solve first order differential equations as early as 6th cent AD. Indian contributions to astrophysics and calculus during European dark ages can be considered as a land mark in the pre-renaissance history of physical sciences. Key words: physical forces, differential calculus, history of science, planetary dynamics, ancient India
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