Wonders of the Universe

The Ordered Universe Rome symposium concluded with two public lectures, grouped together as an exploration of medieval and modern knowledge of the cosmos: Wonders of the Universe captures centuries of speculation, measurement, observation and struggle over the universe in which we live, and the solar system in particular. Delivered by Cecilia Panti and Tom McLeish, the lectures took place in the Notre Dame Global Gateway, with an introduction by its Director, Professor Ted Cachey.

IMG_0376Cecilia led off with an in-depth discussion of the western reception of the Almagest by Ptolemy. The difficulty of the text led to a great many supporting and explanatory treatises, and collections of material designed to help the would-be western astronomical adventurer to navigate through the complexities. A great deal of Arabic learning formed part of this collection. Cecilia guided the audience through this story, of encounter, gradual comprehension, and the significant shift that the challenges provoked by Ptolemy’s mathematical description.

Tom then took us on a different tour: of the moons of the solar system. Marking the history of their observation, from Early Modern theoreticians and observers the lunar tour used data from the unmanned exploration of the solar system to present the moons in all of their wonderful diversity.

The ensuing discussion continued long after the lectures: on the range of sources opened up, and the beauty, mathematical and visual of our own place within the Sphere.

A little poll for you all, after watching Tom’s lecture:


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