Johannes Kepler’s Pursuit of Harmony

  • Article
  • 8 pages
  • Level: high school and above

This article by Aviva Rothman of Case Western Reserve University appeared in Physics Today in 2020. Rothman discusses how Kepler linked the speed of planetary orbits to musical scales—and to the harmonious interaction of humans on Earth during a time of religious warfare.  Kepler’s views on God and church feature significantly in the article. Rothman writes:

In The Harmony of the World, Kepler reminded his readers that although the cosmos itself had once produced a perfect and complete harmony, it would not do so again until the end of days—and maybe not even then. God, it seemed, had meant for humans to be satisfied with the beauty of the smaller harmonies produced by individual groups of planets and to accommodate themselves to the dissonance of the whole. Even in that dissonance, they might find beauty.

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