Ordered Universe at Tor Vergata

Time and time reckoning_06_04_16_Tor VergataWithin the upcoming Ordered Universe symposium in Rome, Cecilia Panti has organised a half-day conference on the subject of Time and Time Reckoning in Medieval and Contemporary Scientific Perspective. Featuring Richard Bower – Durham, Neil Lewis – Georgetown, Anne Lawrence Mathers – Reading and Philipp Nothaft – Oxford, the conference will take place at the Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”, via Columbia 1, Macroarea Lettere e Filosofia – Sala Moscati, staring at 15.00, finishing at about 18.00. All are welcome, so if you are in Rome, please come along!

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Gravitational Waves and the Cosmic ‘Sonativum’

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Artistic rendition of the merging black holes that gave rise to the gravitational waves reported in February 2016. Image from LIGO collaboration

Only an Ordered Universe blogpost could deserve a title like that.  We cannot let a discovery of such reach, beauty, conceptual depth and powerful simplicity (yes indeed) as the LIGO team’s announcement this month of the first detection of gravitational radiation go without a celebratory comment from the Robert Grosseteste club here.

Robert did, after all, engage in the magisterial De luce in the work of imagining the entire cosmos, and indeed in the propagation of waves across it in the process of its first formation.  Another centrepiece of his thought world was the connection of the universal with the present and microscopic. Continue reading

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

Kuwait honours Professor Nader El-Bizri: Arabic Science and Philosophy

Emir giving the prize to BizriKFAS 2 DecemberThe Ordered Universe project is very pleased to relay the news that one of its core members, Professor Nader El-Bizri, American University of Beirut, is the recipient of a significant honour for his academic work. The Prince of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, awarded the prestigious internationally peer-refereed Kuwait Prize for the year 2014 on behalf of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) to Nader for his work in the field of Arabic Sciences and Philosophy.  The official awards ceremony took place in Kuwait City on Thursday 2 December 2015.  Continue reading

Travelling Wisdom – Ordered Universe

IMG_4223IMG_4248Earlier this year in May, Ordered Universe team members participated in a extremely interesting conference organised at the University of Southern Denmark, in Odense. The theme of ‘Travelling Wisdom: Medieval Science in the North c.1000-1500’, proved irresistible, especially when the Ordered Universe team, led by Brian Tanner, was invited to make the opening keynote presentation by Christian Etheridge, the conference organiser. Continue reading

Cheltenham Science Festival…Today!

Cheltenham Festivalscsf-coverThe Ordered Universe will be presenting later today at the Cheltenham Science Festival. Tom, Hannah and Giles will talk with Lord Professor Robert Winston, and with the audience on the project, Grosseteste and Science and Humanities in collaboration. The project was selected by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of its partnership with the Cheltenham Festivals, and the theme of Science in Culture will be very much to the fore in the reflections and discussions later today. Continue reading

(Medieval) Science and some Spin-Off Contemplations about Ethics and Interdisciplinarity

IMG_4051During the introductory session on the Liberal Arts and modern scientific methodologies, Giles posed the question to the group whether failure of a scientific theory could ever be due to moral rather than intellectual failure. Whilst Giles is the one to turn to if you’re interested in the motivation behind this question, I’d like to share some thoughts on some of the comments that ensued. Continue reading

Living in an Ordered Universe

Hortus_Deliciarum,_Die_Philosophie_mit_den_sieben_freien_KünstenAstrolabeThe De artibus liberalibus (On the Liberal Arts) has felt somewhat different from the three treatises that the Ordered Universe group had looked at before. Unlike the De colore, the De iride, the De luce and the De generatione sonorum, the De artibus liberalibus isn’t primarily aimed at elucidating a phenomenon of natural order – be this colour, the rainbow, the cosmos, or sound.[1] Instead of focusing on aspects of the natural world, the De artibus liberalibus offers a justification for the foundational structure of scholarship and education that was around at Grosseteste’s times: the seven Liberal Arts. Continue reading

From herding cats to an ordered workshop: how a common goal can cross discipline boundaries to make academia more than the sum of its parts

The social psychologist Henri Tajfel conducted a series of famous experiments to illustrate how group identities and conflicts could be constructed. One of his most interesting discoveries was revealed by accident, in what was intended to be a baseline condition. In this version of the experiment Tajfel did not encourage any sense of group identity or conflict, but merely assigned two groups two different labels. The A group, and the B group. Even in this condition however, members of each group responded as if their group members were superior to those of the other group. In a series of more elaborate conditions, Tajfel found he could easily enhance this sense of within group identification, and between group conflict. Importantly Tajfel found that whilst group divisions could easily be created, the most effective means of breaking these divisions was for both groups to work towards a common goal.

In academia we have divided ourselves into something much more potent than the A and B group, we have the sciences and the humanities. Continue reading

Ordered Universe Presents…

IMG_559220140923_091840Ordered Universe presents the two, joint, public lectures from earlier this year at the Mahfouz Forum for Interdisciplinary Studies, Pembroke College, Oxford. After a lovely introduction from the Master, Dame Lynne Brindley, we gave two linked presentations. The first, involving Tom, Giles and Richard, ‘Forming the Body of the Cosmos: Robert Grosseteste’s ‘On Light’ focused on the team’s discussion of that treatise, its background and the challenges in rendering the making of the medieval universe. Continue reading