Tours of the Cosmos: From Dante to Dark Matter

The Ordered Universe team tend to find themselves contemplating a dark sky rather than a dark forest and thinking about how the straight paths through the universe were found, rather than the paths through heaven and hell, but this week Ordered Universe team members Giles Gasper and Tom McLeish were Virgil to the audience’s Dante as they led a lunchtime lecture in Durham University’s Institute of Advanced Study.

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Public Talk in Durham 24th Jan: Medieval and Modern Explanations of Colour

Hannah Smithson will be delivering a public lecture in Durham next week, as part of the Institute of Advanced Study’s Fellows’ Public Lecture series.

Medieval and Modern Explorations of Human Colour Perception
will take place on
Tuesday 24 January 2017, 17:30 to 18:30

in the Joachim Room, College of St Hild & St Bede, Durham University

Talk outline: Can science today learn from thirteenth century literature? An interdisciplinary team of physicists, medievalists, Latin scholars and historians of science has embarked on a rich encounter with the great medieval English thinker Robert Grosseteste (1175-1253). The team presents Grosseteste’s treatise the De colore (On colour), to reveal and explore the three-dimensional space within which he characterises colour. His later treatise the De iride (On the rainbow) revisits his theory of colour generation, but with surprising results when seen from modern perspectives. By using medieval studies and modern colour science, the treatises can be interpreted in new, stimulating and more complete ways. Almost 800 years after their inception, Grosseteste’s writings prompt us to explore a new coordinate system for colour.

Directions to the Joachim Room, College of St Hild & St Bede with a Map – College of St Hild & St Bede is denoted as building No. 30. For more information about this event please contact

Please do feel free to come along, to meet Hannah and other members of the Ordered Universe team!

Events this week! Heaven’s Above

Being Human, the National Festival of Humanities, opens across the UK on the 17th November, this Thursday. With nine days of events from Scotland to Cornwall, Northern Ireland to London this year is as diverse in the range of research inspired by the humanities, as it is in geography! There are a number of events taking place in the North-East of England: Hoping for Peace, Imagining War: British Writers 1890s-1920s and The Power of Print in 18th Century Newcastle organised by Northumbria University, Scaling the Heights: Mountains and Vertical MegastructuresMaternity Tales – Listening to Birth Spaces Past and Present and Hope and Fear in Children’s Books organised by Newcastle University. And, there are the two events organised at Durham University under the umbrella title of Heaven’s Above! Giles was talking about the last two in particular on the Ingrid Hagemann Show today (13.11.16   –  at around 1hr 45 mins in on the listen again): the excitement of medieval astronomy, mechanical clocks, and what he’d like to do if he could go back in time. Continue reading

Bayesian Theory and Medieval History

What was the probability that a medievalist would take part in a panel on Baysean theory as part of the decennial conference for Durham University’s Institute of Advanced Study? Well, a subjective Bayesean analysis would, in all likelihood, have indicated a high probability. If probability is ‘the value at which an expectation depending on the happening of the event ought to be computed, and the value of the thing expected upon its happening’, then the conference and the medievalists attendance was indeed likely. With just such Baysean confidence, Continue reading

Ordered Universe at the House of Lords


During the coming week the Ordered Universe project will be featured in an event to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Durham University’s Insitute of Advanced Study, at the House of Lords. Transforming The Way We Think will showcase the Institute’s varied activities over the last ten years, and its leading role in the promotion of interdisciplinary thinking on a national and international scale. Continue reading

Seminar Today in Durham: Richard Bower at the IAS

Richard Bower explaining the treatise on light at the Festival of Humanities, November 2014.
Richard Bower explaining the treatise on light at the Festival of Humanities, November 2014.

Richard Bower, one of the core research team members of the Ordered Universe project will be giving a lunchtime seminar today at the Durham University Institute of Advanced Study (1-2 pm in the Seminar Room) Richard is currently a Christopherson Knott Fellow at the Institute, and is exploring comparative cosmologies. Continue reading

Facing Out – Being Human Festival in Durham, November 2014

Screenshot 2014-11-01 19.40.58
Facing Out Video

SOCIAL_MEDIA_RGB_02_500PXAs an introduction to the Durham part of the Festival of Humanities, we’ve prepared a short (ish) video for both strands: the Ordered Universe’s ‘From Dark Ages to Dark Matter‘, with Giles and Richard, and Barbara Graziosi’s ‘Face-to-Face: Encounters with Ancient Authors: Portraits in Libraries’. We hope this whets the appetite: Dark Ages to Dark Matter is 18th November, with the lecture in Ushaw on the evening of the 19th; Face-to-Face happens throughout that week in Palace Green Library. 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

The Durham Grosseteste project…in the words of some of its team members

and now this one, Paul Ging in conversation with Dr Greti Dinkova-Bruun

These conversations between Giles and Greti were recorded during Greti’s Michaelmas Term in Durham 2012, as Senior Research Fellow at the Durham Institute of Advanced Study. Amongst the many things she accomplished was the bulk of the editorial work on the De iride….preliminary results to come to the world at the FIDEM Porto Congress.