Saturday, April 11, 2009

Rambam- Properties of the Spheres- Yisodei Hatorah perek 3 halacha 3

The Rambam attempts to explain some of the features of the Spheres and how we can relate to them. He says,

כל הגלגלים אינן לא קלים ולא כבדים ואין להם לא עין אדום ולא עין שחור ולא שאר עינות. וזה שאנו רואין אותם כעין התכלת למראית העין בלבד הוא לפי גובה האויר. וכן אין להם לא טעם ולא ריח לפי שאין אלו המאורעין מצויין אלא בגופות שלמטה מהן:

"None of the Spheres are light, nor are they heavy. They do not have a red appearance, black appearance or any other appearance. The reason we see them as blue is because it appears this way to our eyes because of the height of the atmosphere. Also, the Spheres have no taste or smell because these qualities are only found by the bodies that exist lower than them."

The Spheres are not the planets and stars, rather they are the orbit that contains them. The discussion now is focused on what are these orbits. An orbit contains no color, mass, or any type of physical properties. This is what the Rambam is pointing out about the Spheres. He is trying to explain what science at his time believed, that the planets and distance stars are contained within separate orbits.

The most interesting point made here is that the orbits have no color. This seems to contradict what is seen on earth since at different points of the day we can see the sky as blue, black or red. If the orbits have no color then why does the sky appear to be these colors? The Rambam tells us that the Earth's atmosphere creates the illusion of color in outer space. The sky that we see has nothing to do with how the universe exists, but rather it is a creation of the atmosphere of Earth, because of its height. Therefore, these colors do not contradict the ideas found within Rambam.

As a side point, it is interesting to note that when the astronauts go up in space there is no color, but just a vacuum. The dark color comes from the distance of the expanse that no one has traveled to yet. What is out there, even modern science does not know for sure. According to modern science, the universe is expanding and therefore we can not see to its end. Nevertheless, it seems like Rambam was correct on this point, that space is a vacuum with no color, mass or other type of Earthly qualities.

No comments: