Virtutibus mundanis

In hmolscience, virtutibus mundanis, or “virtutes mundanae”, variously translated as “cosmic forces”; a term employed by Otto Guericke (1663) in his system of the universe, being a precursor, supposedly (Conlon, 2011), to the later centuries concept of “forces of nature”. [1]

The following are related quotes:

“As far as my treatise [New Magdeburg Experiments], it is divided into eight books. The first is entitled ‘About the Cosmos and its Organization According to the More Commonly Received Opinion among Philosophers’; the second is ‘Concerning my own Experiments’; the third, ‘About What is and What is Not’ (this particularly demonstrates that space is infinites and immeasurable); the fourth, ‘Concerning the virtutibus mundanis [potencies operating] in the Cosmos, and Other Associated Topics’; the fifth, ‘concerning the Earth of Land and Sea and its Associate Moon’; the sixth, ‘Concerning the World of the Planets and their True Organization’; the seventh, ‘Concerning the Fixed Stars’; and the eight, ‘Concerning What is at the Limits of the Cosmos’.”
Otto Guericke (1661), “Letter to Gaspar Schott”, Nov 16 [1]

“There are different minerals that, poured together with sulphur into a ball about the size of two fats, allow a usual demonstration of what I have named ‘mundane virtues’ (virtutes mundanae). Tycho Brahe writes that he would very much like to support Copernicus, if only the earth were not such a heavy body. My experiments show the contrary is true — the earth is not as heavy as the lightest feather. Likewise, Galileo in his treatise thinks that one cannot grasp the reason why the moon follows the earth and always presents the same fade towards it. I show with the same spherical ball that this happens through particular forces of nature. When the ball is first rubbed, e.g., somewhat by hand and then a light feather is held close to it, the ball first attracts the feather to itself, but then soon repels it as far as the range of its force (orbis virtutis) allows. Then, wherever the ball goes the feather goes too, hovering in the air, so that one can bring it to any desired point even up to someone's nose. It always presents the same side to the spherical ball, so that, by means of this ball, once can turn it in the air, as one pleases. Likewise, many other remarkable things can be demonstrated using this ball.”
Otto Guericke (c.1672), “Letter to Gottfried Leibniz”; cited by Thomas Conlon (2011) in Thinking About Nothing (pgs. 84-85)

“It is plain from the above quotation, that Cabeus did not recognize repulsion as a true property of electrification. Nor was it so recognized by others until the publication by Otto Guericke of his paper ‘De Virtutibus Mundanis’ in 1672. Von Guericke recognized what he regarded as a true repulsion of his electrified sulphur globe for light bodies in its vicinity, but his explanation of the phenomenon was rather metaphysical than physical.”
Fernando Sanford (1921), “Some Early Theories Regarding Electrical Forces” [2]

1. (a) Schott, Gaspar. (1664). Technical Curiosities, Volume One (§: Book One: Magdeburg Miracle – Five Magdeburg Pneumatical Experiments Exhibited, pgs. 1-86; book, pg. 36) (Technica Curiosa, Volume One [§: Liber Primus: Mirabilia Magdeburgica, Five Experimenta Pnevmatica Magdeburgi Exhibita, pgs. 1-]). Publisher.
(b) Conlon, Thomas. (2011). Thinking About Nothing: Otto von Guericke and the Magdeburg Experiments on the Vacuum (Amz) (pg. 76). Saint Austin Press/LuLu.
2. Sanford, Fernando. (1921). “Some Early Theories Regarding Electrical Forces: the Electrical Emanation Theory” (pg. 546), The Scientific Monthly, 12:544-.

Further reading

● Guericke, Otto. (1672). “A General Discussion of Mundane Virtues” (abs), The New Magdeburg Experiments on the Vacuum of Space (ps. 193-95). Publisher.
● Conlon, Thomas. (2011). Thinking About Nothing: Otto von Guericke and the Magdeburg Experiments on the Vacuum (Amz) (pg. 76; discussion, pg. 84). Saint Austin Press/LuLu.

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