Ordered Universe at Leeds International Medieval Congress, 2019

Ordered Universe will be taking part in the 2019 Leeds International Congress, the largest forum for sharing research on the Middle Ages in Europe. The project has a lot to offer on the special conference theme of ‘Materialities’  so we proposed four sessions and a roundtable, all of  which were accepted. The Ordered Universe activities will take place Continue reading

New Ordered Universe Publication

The Ordered Universe project is pleased to announce its latest publication, for the Applied Optics journal, Vol. 56 (2017), G197-G204, and fully open access. The experiments and writing of the paper were led and marshalled by expertly  Joshua Harvey (Mellon Foundation funded graduate student at Oxford University, Dept of Engineering Science and Pembroke college), with assistance from other members of the team, from the sciences and humanities. The paper focuses on the middle part of Grosseteste’s treatise On the Rainbow (De iride) and the shape that the rainbow forms in the sky. This precedes discussion of the colours of the rainbow, covered in other Ordered Universe papers. The current paper offers an historical context for the treatise before moving to the main discussion, testing Grosseteste’s optical thought with physical experiment and physics-based simulation. The results are available below, and show, again, the benefits of collaborative working to unlock problems posed by thinkers of the past.

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Below the Moon: Comets, Heat and Water

The next Ordered Universe symposium takes place in the week to come, May 17-19, at Pembroke College, University of Oxford. It will be great to be back at Pembroke, one of the original homes of the project, and to be broaching two new treatises for collaborative reading. These comprise the De cometis – On Comets and the De impressionibus elementorum; the latter connected to argument on the genesis, nature and activity of comets, the latter a discussion of meteorological phenomena, mostly watery (dew, hail, snow and rain). The reading sessions will be using the edition of the De cometis by Cecilia Panti, with translations of the two works, and a draft edition of the De impressionibus by Sigbjørn Sønnesyn. We will be welcoming some new participants to the group, as well as Ross Ashton and Karen Monid from the Projection Studio. The treatises under scrutiny reveal Grosseteste more at home with Aristotelian methodology, and articulating a more scientific approach to physical problems. Key aspects of his thought on sublimation, on light and on grounds for verification and falsification make their appearance, as do a range of different sources alongside Aristotle. The symposium organisation is  principally by the Oxford team, under Hannah Smithson, and the project is extremely grateful to the efforts of Joshua Harvey, Tim Farrant and Clive Siviour, as well as the College conference staff. Set course for Oxford and we’re off! Look out for reports on the progress of the meeting – a copy of the programme is appended here in PDF and also available at Issuu.

Imaging Fast Phenomena and Chladni Plates – Public Forum

The Ordered Universe symposium on Space and Place, focusing on Grosseteste’s treatises on De sphera and the De sex differentiis, included a public lecture and forum. The lecture, delivered by Clive Siviour, explored his research into high speed photography and material deformation. The film of the lecture will be added to the website shortly. Given in the Williams Library at St Chad’s College, Durham University, the lecture was a very stimulating introduction for non-experts, but full of research insights and details for Continue reading

Grosseteste on Space and Place


The latest in the series of Ordered Universe symposia took place last week, between 1st and 3rd September. We gathered in Durham once more, in the hospitable surroundings of St John’s College, to examine two of Grosseteste’s treatises, and review progress on those now in the publication roster (on which more soon). The meeting was, formally, for the 17th collaborative reading symposium of the project. The experience from those meetings showed in the way that the team were able to move between texts, editions, translations Continue reading

Space and Place: Ordered Universe Symposium

The next Ordered Universe symposium takes place at the beginning of September. From 1-3 various members of the research team will meet at Durham University, at St John’s College, to continue the programme of collaborative reading. The symposium will see the second reading of the treatise De sphera – On the Sphere, the first of the next text in our roster, the De diferentiis localibus – On Local Differences, and revision of earlier work with the treatise De liberalibus artibus – On the Liberal Arts and its Middle English translation. A full programme – complete with a public lecture by Professor Clive Siviour, Department of Engineering and Pembroke College, University of Oxford on his research into High-Speed Photography, and Grossetestes’s treatise De generatione sonorum – On the Generation of Sounds. This takes place in the Cassidy Atrium at St Chad’s College, from 5.30 and is followed by an opportunity to meet the research team, to explore some of the resources of the project, and to participate in some medieval and modern experiments.


Image of walking around the world, from Goussouin de Metz, L’image du monde, with permission from the BN, France, Fr. 1548, used with permission.

Imaging Fast Phenomena: September 2nd

Durham II Public Lecture Poster

The next in the Ordered Universe public lecture series will feature Professor Clive Siviour, of the Department of Engineering and Pembroke College, University of Oxford. Clive will be speaking about his on-going research into High-Speed photography and the extraordinary images it produces, and to experiments derived from Robert Grosseteste’s treatise On the Generation of Sounds. Continue reading

Welcome to new OU researchers

The Ordered Universe project is pleased to welcome two new researchers to the project. Jack Smith, an Engineering undergraduate student from Pembroke College, University of Oxford, and the Department of Engineering Science, has been appointed to a summer studentship. His project will be to work with Clive Siviour and Hannah Smithson, and other members of the Ordered Universe team, to build visualisations of various sections of Continue reading

Spektrum Success: Ordered Universe Creatives

It is a great pleasure to report that Alexandra Carr has been awarded a place at a major exhibition organised by Spectrum, a convergence of cultural communities and transdisciplinary groups based in Berlin. The exhibition, States of Matter, takes place in June, 23-26, this summer.  The exhibit, The Lens of Sound takes the form of a video presentation in collaboration with Joshua Harvey (TORCH Mellon PhD Student on the 13th Century Science Project and Ordered Universe participant). Ordered Universe research on Grosseteste’s treatise De generatione sonorum – On the Generation of Sounds provides the framework and beginning point for the project. Lens of Sound brings together strands of Josh’s current PhD investigation into vowels and their production and perception, and  Schlieren imaging of sound, with a continuation of Alex’s experimentations and performances using cymatics. Continue reading