Science Stories – Podcast

And here it is, the wonderful show from Philip Ball’s Science Stories, on Radio 4. An evocative opening, and then a treat with Tom talking about Grosseteste, the De luce and the interdisciplinary work of the Ordered Universe, and a final consideration of multiverses with Mary Jane Rubenstein. Thought-provoking, meditative and stimulating by turns! Just shows how well the story of Grosseteste’s world, how it inspires scholarship and creativity today, and the intrinsic interest in the phenomena studies, works on radio. Do listen – it’s well worth it.

Medieval ‘Big Bang Theory’…

One not to miss! Tom McLeish is featured at 21.00 on Wednesday this week, talking with Philip Ball, on Science Stories, Radio 4: The Medieval Bishop’s Big Bang Theory. Tom and Philip explore the scientific world of Robert Grosseteste, rainbows, colour and light streaming through Cathedral windows, and the birth of the cosmos described in his treatise ‘On Light’ with its eerie resonance of modern thinking. Listen in, or to the podcast afterwards!

Podcast in Physics World

During the Ordered Universe session at the 2015 Cheltenham Science Festival, with Tom McLeish, Hannah Smithson and Giles Gasper talking about Grosseteste: the Greatest Mind You’ve Never Heard Of…, we were interviewed by Margaret Harris, of Physics World. This, with subsequent interviews at Durham, is the basis of a podcast, now available on the Physics World website here. Giles, Tom, Hannah and Brian Tanner, talk about the Ordered Continue reading

Clarifications on Medieval Multiverses and Multidisciplinarity

IMG_0032The recent interest in the Ordered Universe project following summary articles, in Nature, TheConversationUK, The Economist, The New Statesman, and various republished versions of the above, has been very gratifying (in the most part) but has also made it clear that some clarification is needed on both the way the project works, and on what we are saying.  Continue reading

Embodying Grosseteste


Jack Cunningham has initiated an appeal to the Lincoln City Council for a statue of Robert Grosseteste within the city. The Ordered Universe project support this wholeheartedly, and features within Jack’s letter to the Lincolnshire Echo, copied below.  With the upcoming conference  on Science and Theology in the Thirteenth Century  focused on Grosseteste, the appeal could not be better timed. A conjunction of form and matter to create body is all that is required…. Continue reading

Why the scientists?

Bridging humanities and sciences
Bridging humanities and sciences

At the heart of the Ordered Universe Project is the interdisciplinary collaboration between medievalists and scientists. In this way light is shed onto Grosseteste’s scientific work from very different angles, and this allows for an all-around and in-depth elucidation of his writings. That medievalists contribute to our understanding of medieval science seems straightforward and not a subject of debate. However, doubts are more likely to be raised about whether modern scientists can add anything useful at all in this endeavour.  Like many others who first hear about the Ordered Universe Project I was having these very doubts before joining the group during the FIDEM congress. Continue reading

Physics of De Luce Hots Up

Recent working meeting with Richard Bower, Hannah Smithson, Tom McLeish and Brian Tanner worked through the surprisingly subtle physics issues of balancing luminous drag and absorption as the celestial spheres crystallise out.
Another surprise is the strong effect of the initial matter distribution (following the original expansion). Well behaved universes of the Aristotelian type seem to require steep initial density distributions, though this requirement may be balanced by sufficient absorption within the shells. Would Grosseteste be surprised to hear that for his universe to work, the heavenly spheres need to possess only partial transparency to “lumen”?
Somewhere in there is not just a medieval universe, but a medieval “multiverse”. All possible numbers of planetery spheres – and other universes where the density goes chaotic and non-monotonic. The initial density profile looks important too … more when the movie comes out!

Ordered Universe Sessions at Porto

Cafe Majestic in Porto
Cafe Majestic in Porto

These are the details of the three formal sessions we have organised for the FIDEM Congress in Porto: focusing on the treatises on light and on colour. Each session has a mingling (to use a Grossetestian phrase) of scientific and humanities based scholars; all of which are needed to convey the richness and depth of these wonderful, and original expositions of Aristotle together with his Arabic commentators. The De luce we date to about 1225, the De iride is one of the last scientific texts Grosseteste composed, dated to 1228-1230.

Continue reading

The Medieval Big Bang and the Sky at Night

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.

The Medieval Big Bang will feature at the FIDEM congress in Porto, and will be the main focus of the project’s publication programme this calendar year.