Wonders of the Universe

The Ordered Universe Rome symposium concluded with two public lectures, grouped together as an exploration of medieval and modern knowledge of the cosmos: Wonders of the Universe captures centuries of speculation, measurement, observation and struggle over the universe in which we live, and the solar system in particular. Delivered by Cecilia Panti and Tom McLeish, the lectures took place in the Notre Dame Global Gateway, Continue reading

The Appliance of Science: Ordered Universe in Rome

The Ordered Universe project enjoyed an excellent collaborative reading symposium in Rome at the beginning of this month, 4-8 April. Some 26 of the group gathered in the eternal city, under the local care of Cecilia Panti and her colleagues from Università di Rome, ‘Tor Vergata’, especially Clelia Crialesi. The symposium took place in the University of Notre Dame, Rome Global Gateway. We made full use of its excellent facilities, and were treated to a very hospitable welcome from the director, Professor Ted Cachey and events administrator Krista de Eleuterio. Continue reading

Wonders of the Universe

Rome Public Lecture Poster 3

‘Wonders of the Universe’ is a public lecture from the Ordered Universe Research Project, an interdisciplinary encounter between medieval and modern science: 7th April, 2016, 18.00 in Rome, at the University of Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway (Via Ostilia, 15). The lecture is given in two parts, each of 30 minutes, by Dr Cecilia Panti, an expert on medieval philosophy, and Professor Tom McLeish FRS, an expert on physics, rheology and a keen astronomer. Between the two of them they will explore the intricacies and delights of medieval and modern thought on astronomy and planetary systems.

Cecilia will introduce one of the most famous texts on astronomy inherited by the medieval west from the ancient world, and its medieval Arabic commentators, and the fascinating story of its complex reception:

‘The Almagest of the ancient Alexandrian Ptolemy was by the end of the 12th century known to the Latin world, as was its large corpus of explanatory treatises. Robert Grosseteste was one of the first western scholars to study the Almagest, an encounter which seems to have left him more questions than answers. In his cosmological writings Grosseteste did not engage with the quantitive aspects of the Almagest, and, although appearing to reject the complexities of Ptolemy’s mathematical approach to astronomy, used other models which were even more obscure. Only with the emergence of new techniques in practical astronomy, championed by Campanus of Nova and William of Wallingford was it possible to verify and understand the approach of the Almagest, almost a century after it first appeared on the conceptual horizon of western scholars.’

Changes in practical astronomy and observation altered, radically, understanding of past texts, and the heavens. Tom takes this story on to explore the marvellous diversity of planetary bodies within the solar system:

‘Just over 400 years ago, in 1609 or 1610, Galileo identified the four largest satellites of Jupiter as true moons of the giant planet.  Since then, both earth and space-based exploration of the solar system have revealed dozens of rocky worlds in orbit around the planets.  These are the true occupiers of the imagined ‘epicycles’ of old rather than the planets themselves.  One of the greatest surprises to emerge in this great epoch of exploration is that  no two are alike.  We will survey briefly ice-moons, clouded moons, volcanic moons, two-faced moons and more, in a tour of the solar system’s rich family of worlds’.

All are welcome to join us for this journey into space and time. The University of Notre Dame du Lac Rome Global Gateway, Via Ostilia 15, is found here:

The lectures will be followed by a wine reception. Entrance is free but places are limited and must be registered by email to: ordered.universe@durham.ac.uk

Ordered Universe Symposium: The Appliance of Science: Astronomy and the Calendar

The next in the Ordered Universe Symposium series takes place in April, 5th-8th, in Rome. Co-sponsored by the Università di Roma Tor Vergata, and hosted in the University of Notre Dame du Lac, Rome Global Gateway, the symposium will focus on Grussetestes’s treatise De spheraOn the Sphere and his treatise on time-reckoning and the calendar the Compotus correctorius. The programme is embedded below, and includes details of a half-day conference at Tor Vergata, on Wednesday 6th April (with papers by Richard Bower, Anne Lawrence Mathers, Philipp Nothaft and Neil Lewis) and the Symposium Public Lecture to be delivered on Thursday 7th April at the Notre Dame Global Gateway (Via Ostilia 15) at 18.00 by Tom McLeish and Cecilia Panti. Any inquires should be directed to ordered.universe@durham.ac.uk. The symposium will include regular Ordered Universe participants and some for whom this is their first time: we look forward to three days of interdisciplinary engagement and exploration. Time, space, stars, planets, zodiac and the relationship of the earth to the cosmos, of humanity to creation, are some amongst the topics and questions which Grosseteste opens and to which he addresses his treatises.

Images courtesy of wiki commons and Giles Gasper.