Let’s Get Physical

Seminar 2 saw students exploring Physics with Brian Tanner, Emeritus Professor of Physics at Durham University. Brian introduced the students to the notion of collaborative reading, looking through Robert Grosseteste’s treatise ‘On the Rainbow’. They read about his various experiments, including looking at light refracting through a urine flask, which they replicated using a vase and a mobile phone torch.

Two students then volunteered to take part in an image-formation experiment. They carefully observed a coin’s supposed change of position as water was poured into a vessel, demonstrating refraction at water-air interface. Students used these experiments to evaluate the extent to which Grosseteste was accurate in his theories about the laws of refraction, and were surprised to know how close he was to modern scientific understanding, along with key thinkers like Roger Bacon.

The seminar ended on a discussion about spectacles – when were they invented? Who invented them? Was it Roger Bacon’s experiment on slicing a sphere which created a lens? Or the Arab invention of a ‘reading stone’? Despite numerous paintings of scholars wearing spectacles, the evidence is still inconclusive, as artists may have superimposed them onto the figures to make them look scholarly. 

How (theoretical) physics was born in Hereford…

A wonderful day at Hereford today exploring the life and times of Robert Grosseteste, particularly the years he spent in the city, and his thought on natural phenomena, with excellent questions and involvement from the audience. Brian Tanner, Giles Gasper (from Durham), and David Thomson (now a Herefordian), presented the workshop, which formed part of the Hereford Cathedral Life and Learning programme. In the elegant surroundings of College Hall we showed our Medieval Cosmos film as an introduction to the rather different ways in which the Continue reading

July Catch-Up – Ordered Universe at the Leeds International Medieval Congress

It has been a busy summer season already for the Ordered Universe project. July began with the International Medieval Congress at Leeds. An annual gathering for medievalists, and one of the largest, busiest, and most dynamic in the field, the congress took as its 2019 theme ‘Materialities’. Which suited the project very well. A series of four sessions and a round-table were proposed and accepted – all on Tuesday 2nd July. Tom McLeish, Nicola Polloni, and Francesca Galli led off on Grosseteste and light, from considerations of his view on matter, to light and preaching manuals, and the treatises On Light and On the Six Differentiae. The second session featured Hannah Smithson and Giles Gasper on different aspects of sight and optics, covering the treatises On ColourOn the RainbowOn the Liberal Arts, On Lines and Angles and On the Nature of Places, as well as some of Grosseteste’s Dicta.

After lunch our third session involved Brian Tanner, Philipp Nothaft, and Anne Mathers on comets, Grosseteste’s Compotus, and weather prediction. The new edition of the Compotus is out and available from OUP, and other booksellers! Anne also has a new book on medieval meteorology out with CUP soon. The fourth and final session focused on Grosseteste and sound, with Joshua Harvey and Sigbjørn Sønnesyn, exploring the experimental and source critical aspects to On the Generation of Sounds.  So, we covered quite a lot of Grosseteste’s scientific corpus!

Our final presentation was a round-table, chaired by Tom McLeish, and involving representatives of the wide range of disciplines that compose the project: Laura Cleaver (Art History), Brian Tanner (Physics), Cate Watkinson (Glass Art), Clive Siviour (Engineering), and Giles Gasper (History). A wide-ranging discussion of the implications of inter- or multi-disciplinarity, the evolution of the project, outputs and experience, and the delight that we all share in learning more about each other’s work and insights, the past, and the world around us. Thank you very much to all of the participants, the audiences for talks and round-tables, and the IMC for selecting our proposals! More to come soon…

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Medieval and Modern Tides – Light Up Poole Festival 2019

Last weekend, on Saturday February 23rd, Ordered Universe members Brian Tanner and Giles Gasper took part in the Light Up Poole Festival, on the UK’s south coast, in Dorset. We gave a talk to the public on the scientific works of Robert Grosseteste, in Continue reading

Light Up Poole

The Light Up Poole Festival launched, quite literally, in a  blaze of collective light on 21st February, and closes tonight, on the 23rd February. Of the 24 installations, 2, from the Projection Studio, were conceived and developed in partnership with Ordered Universe research. In this case it’s the cosmological vision and astronomical writings of Robert Grosseteste that provided the inspiration. Horizon, premiered at Continue reading

OxNet North-East – sound as a bell

The OxNet-Ordered Universe 2019 seminar programme is hitting its stride with the 2019 cohort of school students aged 16-17 (Lower Sixth Form, Year 12) from the North-East. Students from Southmoor Academy, St Anthony’s, St Robert of Newminster, and Park View Academy, Continue reading

Horizon at Light Up Poole

Fresh from the Napa Lighted Art Festival, the projection show Horizon, created by The Projection Studio – Ross Ashton and Karen Monid, in collaboration with the Ordered Universe, and in consultation with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will play at the upcoming Light Up Poole Festival. Running from 21-23 February Light Up Poole features Continue reading

Napa Lighted Art Festival – Final Activities

Our final day at the Napa Lighted Festival was 19th January, featuring two talks by Dr Henrike Lange (University of California Berkeley) and Joshua Harvey (Oxford), in a session entitled Beyond the Material, in the First Presbyterian Church. Joshua’s work on material perception, and the quality of lustre in particular, sat engagingly alongside Henrike’s exploration of renaissance art and the manipulative devices used by artists. Continue reading

Napa Lighted Art Festival – Glass, Pyrography and more

The Ordered Universe symposium series at the Napa Lighted Art Festival, two weeks ago today, began with two sessions, one from Cate Watkinson (University of Sunderland and Watkinson Glass Associates) and Giles Gasper (Durham University). Speaking on Glass Continue reading

Preview 9: The Greatest Scientist You’ve Never Heard Of … at the Napa Lighted Art Festival 19 Jan 2019

Members of the Ordered Universe team will be in California in January 2019 for the Napa Lighted Art Festival, bringing our favourite blend of medieval history, modern science and mesmerising art to the west coast of the USA for the first time.

This is the ninth in a series of posts designed to tell you more about each of our events at the Napa Lighted Art Festival and how you can get involved.

Continue reading