OxNet & Ordered Universe: Seminars and Easter School in the North-East Hub

One of the wider activities with which the Ordered Universe is engaged is the OxNet access initiative, which seeks to place university learning directly into schools. In the case of the collaboration with Ordered Universe this involves team members bringing the world of medieval science and of the array of disciplines that make up the project to Continue reading

Ordered Universe in Early 2018: Events Update

2018 is set fair to be another busy year for the Ordered Universe team. In addition to submitting our first volume presenting the treatises On the Liberal Arts and On the Generation of Sounds, and the Middle English Seven Liberal Arts, to press, we have a wide range of other events organised. This is just a reminder of those coming up in the first quarter of the year.

The two exhibitions featuring work inspired by the project run over this period. Illuminating Colour, a major exhibition of new work from Cate Watkinson and Colin Rennie at the National Glass Centre, University of Sunderland, drawing on Grosseteste’s treatises On Colour and On the Rainbow runs until March 10th. This is a world-class exhibition – do come and see it in situ. And, if you find yourself in the North-East come along to the Dante Exhibition at Palace Green Library in Durham and see, amongst the other treasures, Alexandra Carr’s sculpture of the nested spheres of the medieval universe, and a film installation as well. Alexandra’s work was produced as part of her Leverhulme  Trust funded Artistic Residency at Durham University and Ushaw College focusing on medieval and modern cosmology.

January sees the fifth symposium of the current series, at Pembroke College, University of Oxford. In addition the OxNet course at Southmoor Academy recruits and commences its 6 week seminar series, to be taught to schoolchildren from across the North-East at the National Glass Centre. This involves Richard Bower – on Cosmology, Brian Tanner – on Physics, Joshua Harvey – on Psychology, Nicola Polloni and Kasia Kosior – on Translation, Cate Watkinson and Colin Rennie – on Creativity, and Giles Gasper and Tim Farrant on History and Religion. All co-ordinated by Kasia Kosior and the wonderful OxNet team.

February features a number of different activities. Tom McLeish and Giles Gasper are speaking on 7th February, on the modern and medieval cosmos, as part of the Dante Lecture series organised by Durham University’s Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS). Friday 9th February will see the Ordered Universe at the Cambridge e-Luminate Festival of Light for the second year in a row. We’ll be running a series of talks and then show and tell activities over the afternoon and early evening in the Guildhall in Cambridge. And this alongside Ross Ashton and Karen Monid’s new sound and light show. Keeping up the pace, on the 13th February IMEMS is running a day-long workshop on the Scientific Study of Manuscripts, Brian Tanner and Giles Gasper will be talking on Ordered Universe experience of interpreting medieval thought using science and humanities methodologies and approaches. Finally, Jack Cunningham will deliver a lecture in the Ushaw College series in Durham on his discovery of an 18th century life of Grosseteste. ‘ ‘Saving Robert Grosseteste – Fr Philip Perry’s Lost Biography’ takes place on 22nd February, 18.00-19.15

We wrap up the OxNet seminar course in March, and put all focus on the Ordered Universe conference in April – more on that soon, and look forward to the Ordered Universe/OxNet Easter School in Durham – focused on medieval manuscripts, the British Society for the Philosophy of Science conference, and then into the early summer and our Montreal visit, the Kalamazoo International Medieval Congress….and we’re already half way through the year!

De Luce

OxNet North East Launch Party at the National Glass Centre, Sunderland

The Ordered Universe Project and OxNet have teamed up for the 2017–2018 academic year to offer an academic course for sixth form students in the north-east of England. The launch will be hosted by The National Glass Centre in Sunderland on Wednesday 22nd November, and local schools, students, and teachers have been invited to join us and learn more about the scheme and what we are planning for 2018.

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Dark Matter Day

Ordered Universe members took part yesterday in an evening event for Dark Matter Day, organised by Durham University’s Institute of Particular Physics Phenomenology and the Institute for Computational Cosmology (home for Ordered Universe’s Richard Bower). Open to the public, the event featured research, Continue reading

Inspiring Young Minds with Old Thinking

A blog from Thomas Henderson, Durham University, History undergraduate, and recipient of a Laidlaw Scholarship, attached to the project for the next two years.

Last week, the Ordered Universe enjoyed a prominent role in OxNet Access Week summer school at Pembroke College, Oxford. Run under the aegis of Dr Peter Claus, the programme is designed to introduce sixth-formers to the realities of university life, study and research (about which more can be read in the previous post). The week’s programme took its title – ‘The World Machine’ – from the project, and placed particular emphasis on the demands of interdisciplinarity. In introducing the summer school as a whole, Giles Gasper urged the 16- and 17-year-olds to ignore the boundaries they were used to, and to shed the fear of appearing stupid or wrong – skills necessary both for interdisciplinary research and the transition from further to higher education.

As such, the separate streams of Humanities, Science and Theology, though operating in parallel, were regularly combined in shared lectures given by members of the Ordered Universe project: Hannah Smithson lecturing on colour perception, Tom McLeish on the role of inspiration in scientific research, Richard Bower on Cosmology, medieval and modern, and Giles Gasper on the Grosseteste’s life, times and scientific output. Working in the college’s chapel, Alexandra Carr produced an arresting light-based multimedia sculpture; an impressive achievement considering her short time frame. This, along with her talks given with Giles Gasper encouraged the students to think about their subjects in more creative, original ways.

In addition to this broad interdisciplinary approach, the Ordered Universe had its own teaching strand. This centred on collaborative reading of Robert Grosseteste’s De luce and De colore, along with lectures, and a successful seminar on sound given by Joshua Harvey. More intensive tutorials were run by Ordered Universe contributors Joshua Harvey and Tim Farrant, with Tom Henderson and Alexandra Haigh together tutoring a third group. Though the work was undoubtedly challenging, the sixth-formers rose magnificently to meet it, making insightful contributions. It was immensely gratifying for tutors to watch as the students grew in confidence over the course of the week, taking to heart Giles Gasper’s assurance that “there are no stupid questions”.

Students’ feedback showed that, while they found the work more difficult than they were used to, their experience of the Ordered Universe project had been immensely rewarding. It was clear that they had internalised the projects principles, looking beyond narrow conceptions of individual disciplines to be more curious and adventurous in their thinking.

Ordered Universe at Cambridge e-luminate – Spiritus: Light and Dark

An absolutely fantastic day in Cambridge on February 10th, with the launch of the e-luminate festival. Ordered Universe team members, Giles Gasper, Tom McLeish, Richard Bower, Hannah Smithson and Sebastian Falk presented the project, and interactive activities on medieval and modern science to the public at Great St Mary’s Church. With over 250 visitors to the displays we were very glad to support Ross Ashton and Karen Monid’s simply breathtaking projection show Spiritus: Light and Dark. This was a dazzling juxtaposition of medieval astronomical thought, modern cosmology, and a wonderful tribute to the scientific imaginations, of Grosseteste and his later successors, the contemplative beauty of music inspired by Hildgard of Bingen, and the artistry to bring all of these together in a bewitching sequence. If you are in Cambridge the show, and all of the others across the city (as well as other events around e-luminate) are on until the 15th Feb: it will be well worth the trip. Ordered Universe members were very grateful for the assistance too of Jinni Tang (Durham University) and Eleanor Puttock (Faraday Institute) in marshalling the exhibits and audiences, and to Rev. John Binns and the staff at Great St Mary’s. Astrolabes, the world of Robert Grosseteste, visualising the medieval cosmos, a modern oculus rift journey into dark matter, contemporary glasswork from the National Glass Centre, University of Sunderland, and optical experiments from the 13th century. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!

Images from Giles Gasper, Ross Ashton and Karen Monid

Spiritus: Ordered Universe at the Bouygues UK Cambridge e-Luminate Festival: ‘Let There be Light!’

Friday 10th: Great St Mary’s Church, Cambridge, 15.00-19.30: Ordered Universe will be presenting Let There be Light! Medieval and Modern Science on Light, which starts with a series of short talks from 15.00 – 17.00 on the project, its research and the new projection by Ross Ashton and Karen Monid which forms part of the e-Luminate Festival. Come and hear Ross Ashton on the making of the show, Richard Bower from Durham’s Institute of Computational Cosmology on modelling Grosseteste’s treatise On Light, Hannah Smithson, Experimental Pscychology – University of Oxford, on Emobodied Light and Grosseteste’s theories of colour and the rainbow, Giles Gasper, Durham University, History Department, on Grosseteste and his scientific writings, and Tom McLeish, Physics, Durham University on lessons for modern debate between science and religion from the Middle Ages.

After the talks, the research team will be showing some interactive aspects of our research, and a poster exhibition, with more on the project, medieval science, modern vision science and galaxy modelling. Dr Sebastian Falk from Girton College will be joining us with a display on astroblabes. The talks and activities are free, the timetable and programme are listed below. Please do come along if you are in Cambridge, or to let others know!spiritus-poster

Sculpting With Light: Medieval and Modern Cosmology

It is delightful to announce a successful application to the Leverhulme Trust Artist in Residence Scheme for Alexandra Carr. Sculpting With Light: Medieval and Modern Cosmology will confront human attempts to grasp and master the structure and meaning of the universe. Inspired by Durham’s resources, from illuminated medieval manuscripts to the DiRac2-Super-Computer, the residency will enable Alex to spend the summer in Durham, working with Giles and Richard Bower and Tom McLeish, and many others, to explore medieval and modern cosmology. Continue reading

Tor Vergata News – Time and Time Reckoning

From the Ordered Universe’s last symposium in Rome, April 2016, a short news report from Tor Vergata on the conference we held there. This was the first activity in a collaboration between Durham and Tor Vergata as well as being an occasions to hear four excellent papers on the subject of time. With our next symposium coming up in Durham at the end of the month this is a timely reminder of the range of our activities! Continue reading