Grosseteste in 3D

Grosseteste’s De luce, on which the team has been working for the last 18 months or so (and in the case of Neil and Cecilia considerably longer) explains the creation of the Aristotelian universe, and the series of celestial spheres, contrasting the perfect and stable universe above the moon, with the more unpredictable regions beneath. In the course of this exposition of Aristotle, and many other classical authorities Grosseteste deploys considerable mathematical explanation. Addressing the question of body, and how matter can be energised, he posits a universe expanding from a single point of light

Lumenocentric universe

 (Lux) (the force capable of extending matter), which diffuses spherically until a stasis point, a point of perfect rarefaction (and minimum density) where light no longer has the force to move matter forward. This stasis creates the first sphere.

From the inside of the this sphere a different quality of light, or rather light within the universe (Lumen) reflects inwards. Lumen moves matter inwards until it reaches  a similar point of stasis, creating the second sphere; the process repeats itself until the spheres are complete. This is to simplify a complex sequence within the treatise but it encapsulates the essence.Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 15.55.52

Richard Bower has been able to represent Grosseteste’s written description of this process in a mathematical, programmed sequence. This has so far been shown to the Grosseteste science team in the form of a 2-dimensional programme. What we will attempt to make, by the end of September is a 3D Visualisation, not only of Grossteste’s universe as it is described in the De luce, but an interactive 3D representation of the De colore as well.

This is possible because of another inter-Institute collaboration within Durham. I’m delighted to say that we applied for a seed-corn grant from the Institute of Advanced Research Computing and were successful. The grant will support Adam Harries, a computer engineering BA student at Durham, under the guidance of Nick Holliman from iARC, Richard and Giles, to put together a 3D version of the treatises. We plan that this will be about 6 minutes long, with a narration from the University Chancellor, Sir Thomas Allen. It will act in itself as a wonderful way to puzzle through some of the intricacies of Grosseteste’s text, the ways in which this can best be represented in different media, and a way to introduce this phenomenal mind to wider audiences. The 3D film will be part of the learning resources developed within the education strand of the Grosseteste Science Project.

Richard’s model and the methodology behind it will form the basis for an article in a scientific-journal, we hope in the near future; the working out of this within the context of the treatise will form the next volume in the Grosseteste Science library: and the bulk of the work to be carried out at Porto. What would Grosseteste think!

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