Astronomy, perhaps the first of the sciences, was already well developed by the time of Christ. Seventeen centuries later, after Newton showed that the movements of the planets could be explained in terms of gravitation, it became the paradigm for the mathematical sciences. In the nineteenth century the analysis of star-light allowed astrophysicists to determine both the chemical composition and the radial velocities of celestial bodies, while the development of photography enabled distant objects invisible to the human eye, to be studied and measured in comfort. Technical developments during and since the Second World War have greatly enlarged the scope of the science by permitting the study of radiation. This is a fascinating introduction to the history of Western astronomy, from prehistoric times to the origins of astrophysics in the mid-nineteenth century. Historical records are first found in Babylon and Egypt, and after two millennia the arithmetical astronomy of the Babylonians merged with the Greek geometrical approach to culminate in the Almagest of Ptolemy. This legacy was transmitted to the Latin West via Islam, and led to Copernicus's claim that the Earth is in motion. In justifying this Kepler converted astronomy into a branch of dynamics, leading to Newton's universal law of gravity. The book concludes with eighteenth- and nineteenth-century applications of Newton's law, and the first explorations of the universe of stars. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
A follow-up publication to the Handbook of Medieval Studies, this new reference work turns to a different focus: medieval culture. Medieval research has grown tremendously in depth and breadth over the last decades. Particularly our understanding of medieval culture, of the basic living conditions, and the specific value system prevalent at that time has considerably expanded, to a point where we are in danger of no longer seeing the proverbial forest for the trees. The present, innovative handbook offers compact articles on essential topics, ideals, specific knowledge, and concepts defining the medieval world as comprehensively as possible. The topics covered in this new handbook pertain to issues such as love and marriage, belief in God, hell, and the devil, education, lordship and servitude, Christianity versus Judaism and Islam, health, medicine, the rural world, the rise of the urban class, travel, roads and bridges, entertainment, games, and sport activities, numbers, measuring, the education system, the papacy, saints, the senses, death, and money.
'This book offers an excellent explanation of the scientific method and its use, through case studies from astronomy, physics, and philosophy. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates. General readers.'CHOICEWe know the Earth rotates, but how do we know? When and how did it become reasonable to believe that the Earth rotates?This book offers a historical account, from ancient Greek science to the theory of relativity and ultimately to videos taken from outer space, of how this widely known truth came to be. Using an accessible and entertaining narrative suitable for anyone interested in astronomy, physics, or the history of either, Kosso clarifies the use of evidence to prove that the Earth rotates, and deals with the tension between the claims that the Earth is absolutely in motion, yet all motion is relative. The book also explores the general nature of scientific evidence and method, and confronts challenges to science from outside the discipline.
Careers in astronomy for women (as in other sciences) were a rarity in Britain and Ireland until well into the twentieth century. The book investigates the place of women in astronomy before that era, recounted in the form of biographies of about 25 women born between 1650 and 1900 who in varying capacities contributed to its progress during the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. There are some famous names among them whose biographies have been written before now, there are others who have received less than their due recognition while many more occupied inconspicuous and sometimes thankless places as assistants to male family members. All deserve to be remembered as interesting individuals in an earlier opportunity-poor age. Placed in roughly chronological order, their lives constitute a sample thread in the story of female entry into the male world of science. The book is aimed at astronomers, amateur astronomers, historians of science, and promoters of women in science, but being written in non-technical language it is intended to be of interest also to educated readers generally.
This book is a historical account of how natural philosophers and scientists have endeavoured to understand the universe at large, first in a mythical and later in a scientific context. Starting with the creation stories of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, the book covers all the major events in theoretical and observational cosmology, from Aristotle's cosmos over the Copernican revolution to the discovery of the accelerating universe in the late 1990s. It presents cosmology as a subject including scientific as well as non-scientific dimensions, and tells the story of how it developed into a true science of the heavens. Contrary to most other books in the history of cosmology, it offers an integrated account of the development with emphasis on the modern Einsteinian and post-Einsteinian period. Starting in the pre-literary era, it carries the story onwards to the early years of the 21st century.
Taking as its focus an age of transformational development in cartographic history, namely the two centuries between Columbus’s arrival in the New World and the emergence of the Scientific Revolution, this study examines how maps were employed as physical and symbolic objects by thinkers, writers and artists. It surveys how early modern people used the map as an object, whether for enjoyment or political campaigning, colonial invasion or teaching in the classroom. Exploring a wide range of literature, from educational manifestoes to the plays of Marlowe and Shakespeare, it suggests that the early modern map was as diverse and various as the rich culture from which it emerged, and was imbued with a whole range of political, social, literary and personal impulses. Intellectual and Imaginative Cartographies in Early Modern England, 1550-1700 will appeal to all those interested in the History of Cartography.
Official title: Do the prehistoric interactions between astronomy and religion form a distinct religious tradition? In the dissertation for his Master's of Arts degree from the University of Central Lancashire, Cometan introduced and thoroughly explored his theory of the existence of the oldest religious tradition based on astronomical observation which he titles the Astronic tradition, or Astronicism. In this work, which received a Distinction Grade of 87 following its examination, Cometan discovers that astronomy and religion were indeed intertwined in prehistoric and ancient times. Through archaeological evidence, Cometan makes the case for the existence of an Astronic religious tradition stretching back to the Upper Palaeolithic period of the Stone Age some 40,000 years ago. Key ideas of Cometan's dissertation work include astromorphism, astrolatry, astroglyphs, astromancy, astronomical religion, and the theory of an astronomical Urreligion (an original or primordial religion).
The invention of the telescope at the dawning of the 17th century has revolutionized humanity's understanding of the Universe and our place within it. This book traces the development of the telescope over four centuries, as well as the many personalities who used it to uncover brand-new revelations about the Sun, Moon, planets, stars and distant galaxies. Starting with early observers such as Thomas Harriot, Galileo, Johannes Hevelius, Giovanni Domenico Cassini, Robert Hooke and Christian Huygens, the book explores how these early observers arrived at essentially correct ideas concerning the objects they studied. Moving into the 18th and 19th centuries, the author describes the increasing sophistication of telescopes both large and small, and the celebrated figures who used them so productively, including the Herschels, Charles Messier, William Lassell and the Earls of Rosse. Many great discoveries were also made with smaller instruments when placed in the capable hands of the Struve dynasty, F.W. Bessel, Angelo Secchi and S.W Burnham, to name but a few. Nor were all great observers of professional ilk. The book explores the contributions made by the 'clerical astronomers,' William Rutter Dawes, Thomas William Webb, T.E.R Philips and T.H.E.C Espin, as well as the lonely vigils of E.E. Barnard, William F. Denning and Charles Grover. And in the 20th century, the work of Percival Lowell, Leslie Peltier, Eugene M. Antoniadi, Clyde Tombaugh, Walter Scott Houston, David H. Levy and Sir Patrick Moore is fully explored. Generously illustrated throughout, this treasure trove of astronomical history shows how each observer's work led to seminal developments in science, and providing key insights into how we go about exploring the heavens today.