The Sky at Night…and the Grosseteste Project

The coverage of the Grosseteste Science project from the Sky at Night can be found below: the Medieval Big Bang in all its form (pun intended!). The general interest in the project is extremely welcome and encouraging. The excitement of these discussions is palpable.

Sky at night 2013 De luce (1)

Ordered Universe Sessions at Porto

Cafe Majestic in Porto
Cafe Majestic in Porto

These are the details of the three formal sessions we have organised for the FIDEM Congress in Porto: focusing on the treatises on light and on colour. Each session has a mingling (to use a Grossetestian phrase) of scientific and humanities based scholars; all of which are needed to convey the richness and depth of these wonderful, and original expositions of Aristotle together with his Arabic commentators. The De luce we date to about 1225, the De iride is one of the last scientific texts Grosseteste composed, dated to 1228-1230.

Continue reading “Ordered Universe Sessions at Porto”

The Colour Group – A Medievalist’s Perspective

On Wednesday the 13th of March, Hannah Smithson hosted The Colour Group at Pembroke College in Oxford; this particular collective consisted of physicists, psychologists, biologists and one lone medieval art historian (a paper for which I had anxiously waited for all day). The central theme up for discussion was “colour cues to material properties” which, for those of us without a science degree, was essentially an investigation into how we perceive “what things are made of”, and how colour, shape and texture can interact to affect our perception. This meant over the course of the day I was exposed to many different ideas on how luminosity, gloss, and colour boundaries affect our perception of the world around us.Continue reading “The Colour Group – A Medievalist’s Perspective”

Just published – Hot off the press….

Robert Grosseteste, The Dimensions of Colour: Robert Grosseteste’s De colore
Edition, Translation and Interdisciplinary Analysis
By Greti Dinkova-Bruun, Giles E.M. Gasper, Michael Huxtable, Tom C.B. McLeish, Cecilia Panti and Hannah Smithson

Those of you in North America can order your copy directly from PIMS, Europeans from the Brepols website (in a few days time), or from

The Colour Group – Great Britain

Hannah is hosting the next monthly meeting of the UK Colour Group at Pembroke College, Oxford, on Wednesday, 13th March. The meeting  will focus on the colour cues for material properties, drawing on experience from visual psychophysics, human neuropsychology, colour measurement, computer vision and the perception and representation of material properties in art. Perception of colour is not something that Grosseteste addressed directly in the De colore, but he gets a lot closer to the perception of different colours in different rainbows in the De iride. Sam Sargeant will be attending from the Ordered Universe/Durham Grosseteste Project research group (and having some time in the lovely Oxford libraries on matters Grossetestian and medieval scientific).

Details of the meeting and registration are here:

Durham Grosseteste Project in Portugal

IMG_1119So, our next engagement as a team will be the FIDEM congress in Porto. The congress gathers around 400-500 medievalists of various sorts and meets every 5 years. FIDEM itself is a network of institutes for medieval studies, with individual as well as institutional membership, and has been running since 1987. Greti sits on the executive board. Jose Mereinhos very kindy and enthusiastically accepted our suggestion that we might present the project in Porto.Continue reading “Durham Grosseteste Project in Portugal”

One of the more…

What does a study of Medieval Science do for a Scientist today?

One of the more remarkable statements in the Sky and Night article, and one that also sums up at quite a deep level what the Ordered Universe project can deliver for scientists today, is from Richard Bower, the computational cosmologist on the project. He points out how that, once “inside” the logic of Grosseteste’s cosmological physics, how compellingly beautiful and impressive his acheivement, and the Aristotelian cosmos itself, now becomes. Too often an object of glib ridicule from those with the benefit of (eight centuries of) hindsight, Bower points out that Grosseteste was wrong because he made a wrong, but observationally reasonable, assumption (that the earth was in the centre of the universe). He wonders what cosmologists might say in a century’s time about the assumptions that he and his colleagues make today about the properties of dark matter, and beautifully describes how the project puts his own work into the context of a much longer story.