Medieval Rainbows at Cambridge Mathematics

The Cambridge University Mathematics Campus and one of its more famous denizens.
The Cambridge University Mathematics Campus and one of its more famous denizens.

Ordered Universe Co-investigator Tom McLeish was invited down to the Cambridge Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) to talk about the project in that famous institution’s regular ‘fluids’ seminar series. Continue reading

A very colourful evening at Oxford Castle

Oxford_Castle_in_1832OU logo large text 2015Hannah Smithson and Giles Gasper were privileged to give a talk last week in Oxford at the Oxford Castle Key Learning Centre, as part of the Westgate Talks series. The excavations beneath the Westgate shopping centre have uncovered the original Franciscan house, Greyfrairs, established in 1224, and for whom Grosseteste was the first lector. Continue reading

A Guided Tour of the Chateau d’Amour: with video clips

IMG_0065Last week, on Friday 9th October, Michael Huxtable gave his lecture ‘A Guided Tour of the Chateau d’Amour’ as the Annual Bishop Grosseteste Lecture, at Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln. The 9th, at least according to the Anglican canon, is the commemorative day for Grosseteste, and the lecture was given in collaboration with Lincoln Cathedral. Michael’s lecture, on Grosseteste’s wonderful, image-heavy, poem of the fall and redemption of humanity, could not have been more appropriate for the occasion. To a full auditorium in the Robert Hardy theatre, Michael presented a tour-de-force of learning and sensitive reading, placing the Anglo-Norman poem, its allegory of the Virgin Mary as Castle, and extended commentary on the redemption of creation, into a series of contexts. Continue reading

Ordered Universe Presents…

IMG_559220140923_091840Ordered Universe presents the two, joint, public lectures from earlier this year at the Mahfouz Forum for Interdisciplinary Studies, Pembroke College, Oxford. After a lovely introduction from the Master, Dame Lynne Brindley, we gave two linked presentations. The first, involving Tom, Giles and Richard, ‘Forming the Body of the Cosmos: Robert Grosseteste’s ‘On Light’ focused on the team’s discussion of that treatise, its background and the challenges in rendering the making of the medieval universe. Continue reading

Guardian Science – Article on Ordered Universe

As we wait for the Times Higher Education awards tonight, Michael Brooks has composed a lovely article on his experiences at the Ordered Universe Grosseteste Day during the Festival of Humanities, and of the work of the project, especially on the Rainbow. Continue reading

From Dark Ages to Dark Matter – Festival of Humanities

image001SOCIAL_MEDIA_RGB_02_500PXThe Ordered Universe is very proud and pleased to be part of the inaugural UK National Festival of the Humanitieswhich takes place between 15th-23rd November this year. The Festival aims to engage the public with innovative humanities research, and takes place across the country, with university hubs and their cultural and community partners. The programme is a true showcase for the diversity and inventiveness of research into humanities, with a fantastic array of projects, activities and opportunities to come face to face with the researchers and their subjects. Continue reading

Grosseteste’s ‘scientific’ treatises – reflecting on principles of investigation

20140719_153317IMG_5592One of the unifying themes across Grosseteste’s ‘scientific’ treatises is that he carefully observed the natural world around him and furthermore assumed that there should be a set of fundamental, universally applicable principles explaining the ordered complexity with which he was confronted. For Grosseteste creation was an act of divine generosity, an overflowing of God’s joy and goodness, and, as a product of the fount and origin of reason (as well as love, justice, joy and so forth), was itself inherently rational. Nature forms a source of knowledge about God alongside the revelation of Scripture. Continue reading

What a wonderful world – aha-moments triggered by insights into a medieval thinker’s mind

Photo0044IMG_0032In the aftermath of Ordered Universe gatherings I find myself time and again struck by how little appreciation I normally give to the complexity of the natural world. So many fundamental properties of the physical universe I usually take for granted, without even giving it a thought that someone would have some sort of explanatory account for them. Through engaging with 13th-century models of physical phenomena, some of this fascination with the fundamental properties of the world around us has been unlocked for me. Furthermore, I keep being baffled by how science – in the sense of ‘groping for understanding’, as Tom McLeish sometimes puts it – is far from a modern-day phenomenon but has been with us throughout the ages. Given my psychology and philosophy background this constitutes a steep learning curve, and has certainly enriched my understanding of the nature and history of science. Continue reading

Grosseteste goes public: disseminating medieval and modern science

IMG_2853IMG_2856The Mahfouz Forum on Grosseteste’s De generatione sonorum (On the generation of sound) culminated in a set of public lectures held in the Pichette Auditorium of Pembroke College. With this having been the third time that I got to enjoy being part of an Ordered Universe gathering, I had heard before some elements of these talks given by Tom McLeish, Giles Gasper, Hannah Smithson and Richard Bower. But far from making the experience repetitive, it has been very inspiring to see how the speakers’ approach and evaluation of the topics has been evolving and expanding. In addition, it’s rewarding to see how my own understanding of the themes has developed from when I first joined, and how some of the concepts I initially couldn’t get my head around by now seem quite familiar. Continue reading

Nature Physics Commentary – All the Colours of the Rainbow

Grosseteste's rainbow co-ordinates mapped onto perceptual colour plane by H. Smithson
Grosseteste’s rainbow co-ordinates mapped onto perceptual colour plane by H. Smithson
cube3
Grosseteste’s three bi-polar qualities of light and medium plotted on a cube.

The latest Ordered Universe publication is out; a second piece in Nature, this time in Nature Physics. ‘All the Colours of the Rainbow’, which was principally authored by Hannah Smithson and Tom McLeish, with Giles Gasper, provides the outline of the way in which Grosseteste’s thought on colour moves between the De colore ‘On Colour’ and the De iride ‘On the Rainbow’, and the startling ways in which this can be mapped into contemporary models of human colour vision space. Continue reading