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.
The Ordered Universe/Durham Grosseteste project work on the treatise on light is this month featured in the BBC Magazine, Sky at Night, dedicated to all things astronomical, in an article written by Paul Cockburn. Gasper, Panti, McLeish and Bower were all interviewed and feature in the discussion of Grosseteste’s expanding universe in his radical, anomalous, revolutionary?, exposition of Aristotle and the question of the extension of body. Get your copy now! We are featured on pages 69-73, including a lovely commentary on the project by Richard Bower, on the beauty of the treatise and the alternative rationality of this medieval view of the universe.
A wonderful occasion, and a really good set of questions: was Grosseteste a loner or a collaborator, how do the scientific and theological texts work together, how were the key terms in the De colore translated, what are the attractions of the deeper past to modern scientists. Science, as Tom said, is something deeply old, and deeply human.
Coming to a bookshop or library near you in four weeks time…this is the first volume in a projected series to encompass all of Grosseteste’s scientific treatises. Continue reading “De colore – On Colour”
Three of the team, Giles, Hannah and Tom, enjoyed the wonderful environment of the Graduate Center, CUNY, and gave a public lecture as part of the Science Initiative, at the invitation of William Bialek. The Proshansky Auditorium was a great venue, and we spoke to a large audience, to excellent questions and reactions. The three of us presented the Grosseteste project with a focus on the forthcoming edition, translation and multi-disciplinatry commentary of the De colore, and on the De luce. The welcome was amazing, and the conversations that spun off from the main presentation stimulating and intellectually broadening. Just to prove we were there….
The next in the Ordered Universe workshop series will be focused on the treatise De iride, ‘On the Rainbow” by Robert Grossetese. Although the treatise on the rainbow by Theodoric of Freiburg in the early 14th century has enjoyed more attention than Grosseteste’s the earlier treatise is the first to introduce the notion of refraction into the explanation of the physics of the rainbow. Grosseteste’s treatise also pre-dates the next attempt to provide an answer to how rainbows work by his near-contemporay Witelo. The treatise De iride is closely related to Grosseteste’s treatment on Colour (the De colore) and the larger treatise on Lines and Angles (the De lineis). Two workshops are planned for Michaelmas Term, the first, for which a poster is attached, will take place on Thursday 18th and Friday 19th October, in Collingwood College (Dales Suite). The second will take place on Thursday 6th and Friday 7th of December. Both workshops will feature the Ordered Universe collaborative methodology, with medievalists and modern scientists working together on the text. All are welcome; places are limited to 20. Please register your interest with Dr Giles Gasper (firstname.lastname@example.org).