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clockwork universe

An image of the universe as a clock wound up by God and ticking along with its gears governed by the laws of physics. This idea was very important in the Enlightenment, when scientists realized that Newton's laws of motion, including the law of universal gravitation, could explain the behavior of the solar system.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.