New Podcast: Tom McLeish at University College Dublin’s Institute for Discovery

Tom McLeish talking to Dr Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain from University College Dublin, about interdisciplinary, Ordered Universe, and wider themes concerning science, faith and creativity.

The next scientific breakthrough…and the past

A short notice that Tom, Giles and Hannah have published a discussion piece in The Conversation, thinking through the inspiration that past engagement with natural phenomena can have on modern scientific thinking. Einstein, superconductivity, rainbows and ne0-classicism: it’s all here: The next scientific breakthrough

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“Education is all about changing your mind.”

This is a quotation from Kathy Bader, one of the PhD students involved in the Ordered Universe Project. It sums up an almost self-evident truth, and nonetheless it’s something one can sometimes forget when it comes to thinking about choosing between courses or jobs or generally between things to which one could devote one’s time and effort. Continue reading

Back to the roots

During the most recent of the Ordered Universe Symposia, medieval specialists and modern scientists applied their minds to Robert Grosseteste’s De sphera (On the sphere). In this early treatise of his, Grosseteste describes the movements of the heavenly bodies in the firmament according to the observer’s position on earth. The astronomical knowledge available during the supposedly so dark Middle Ages is of impressive accuracy Continue reading

‘Writing is thinking.’

Collaborative reading sessions very much form the backbone of Ordered Universe Symposia. The members of the interdisciplinary working group sit around a large table and go through the draft translations provided by Sigbjorn Sonnesyn, and they often find themselves discussing how to best render individual Latin terms in English. The ideal translation conveys what Grosseteste had in mind in a way that’s faithful to the Latin, yet understandable to modern-day readers, and avoidant of terms loaded with modern-day concepts that diverge from the medieval connotations. Continue reading

Interdisciplinary Lessons

Lessons for Interdisciplinary Working from Medieval Science is a short piece reflecting on some of the interdisciplinary practice we have developed within the Ordered Universe project by Tom McLeish and Giles Gasper. We’ve drawn together some of the lessons that we have learnt, and some that we hope might be of use to others in similar contexts. Continue reading

Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Materialism and the Value of Conscious Life

IMG_2881Apart from the time devoted to collaborative reading sessions during Ordered Universe Symposia, there is also room for broader conversation and exchange of ideas. These conversations are very interesting and maybe also quite unusual, as they represent a rare instance of academics from very different disciplines being brought together. Interdisciplinary discussions are challenging in many ways and they require trust and respect on both sides. It is wonderful to see how during Ordered Universe Symposia, an atmosphere of open-mindedness and friendliness is all around so that this kind of true interdisciplinary exchange becomes possible. Continue reading

About What It Takes: Assumptions About Skill Sets in the Humanities and Sciences

20140320_10553120140320_105649From relatively early on in school, young people start to think of themselves as ‘more sciency’ or ‘more of a humanities or languages person’. With these two poles, to one of which many students sooner or later find themselves gravitating, we tend to associate different personality attributes and skills. For humanities subjects, creative and outside-the-box thinking is deemed to be important, and we tend to expect people in the humanities to have a vivid imagination and maybe also an elaborate, ornate writing style. For the natural sciences, by contrast, we assume that what’s needed is sharpness and coherence of thought, quickness of the mind, and maybe most importantly, good quantitative reasoning skills.

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Unity in Diversity

IMG_404205125th – 28th November 2015, Durham, UK. A group of around 25 people gather for another symposium on the scientific writings of the 13th century English bishop Robert Grosseteste. It’s the first symposium under the umbrella of the generous AHRC grant that started in October. Whilst most academic conferences bring together experts from more or less the same subject area, this symposium is different. Its attendants span the academic disciplines from medieval history to modern vision science, from Middle English to computational cosmology, from church history to physics and applied mathematics, and from linguistics and acoustics to music composition. Continue reading

Medieval Rainbows at Cambridge Mathematics

The Cambridge University Mathematics Campus and one of its more famous denizens.
The Cambridge University Mathematics Campus and one of its more famous denizens.

Ordered Universe Co-investigator Tom McLeish was invited down to the Cambridge Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) to talk about the project in that famous institution’s regular ‘fluids’ seminar series. Continue reading