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ERIC Number: EJ1055060
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Feb
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Origins of Newton's First Law
Hecht, Eugene
Physics Teacher, v53 n2 p80-83 Feb 2015
Anyone who has taught introductory physics should know that roughly a third of the students initially believe that any object at rest will remain at rest, whereas any moving body not propelled by applied forces will promptly come to rest. Likewise, about half of those uninitiated students believe that any object moving at a constant speed must be continually pushed if it is to maintain its motion. That's essentially Aristotle's law of motion and it is so "obviously" borne out by experience that it was accepted by scholars for 2000 years, right through the Copernican Revolution. But, of course, it's fundamentally wrong. This paper tells the story of how the correct understanding, the law of inertia, evolved and how Newton came to make it his first law.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A