The Clockwork Universe is the story of a band of men who lived in a world of dirt and disease but pictured a universe that ran like a perfect machine. A meld of history and science, this book is a group portrait of some of the greatest minds who ever lived as they wrestled with natures most sweeping mysteries. The answers they uncovered still hold the key to how we understand the world.
At the end of the 17th century, an age of religious wars, plague, and the Great Fire of London when most people saw the world as falling apart, these earliest scientists saw a world of perfect order. They declared that, chaotic as it looked, the universe was in fact as intricate and perfectly regulated as a clock. This was the tail end of Shakespeare's century, when the natural and the supernatural still twined around each other. Disease was a punishment ordained by God, astronomy had not yet broken free from astrology, and the sky was filled with omens. It was a time when little was known and everything was new. These brilliant, ambitious, curious men believed in angels, alchemy, and the devil, and they also believed that the universe followed precise, mathematical laws, a contradiction that tormented them and changed the course of history. The Clockwork Universe is the fascinating and compelling story of the bewildered geniuses of the Royal Society, the men who made the modern world.
©2011 Edward Dolnick (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
Enjoys espionage, mystery, police procedurals, science, biographies.
This is quite well done. While ostensibly a science history focused around England, and Sir Isaac Newton, Dolnick does a very nice job of setting the tone and place of the events that are discussed. The setup of the culture, the environment and the filth of the times may seem to take a long while, but I think the perspective created makes the science history that much more interesting.
I initially picked this audio reading because it advertises as a book about the birth of Calculus and the rivalry of Leibnitz and Newton. It gets there, but maybe not until the 30th chapter. After listening to the first 10 chapters, I picked up a copy of the book which only added to my enjoyment and I ended up both reading and listening to the entire book. That should be praise enough. Opens in London in 1600s, goes back before Pythagoras and everyone of importance makes an appearance. If that sounds like too much, it's not. Too often science writers rely on vignettes to lighten the mood and sugar coat the science. That's not what Edward Dolnick does here. To his credit, Dolnick's skill as an author is to give the reader what is needed to understand the development of the concepts and when you get to the Calculus, everything that preceded makes sense and you understand why you took the trip though history. Excellent book, extremely well written and the audio presentation was professional.Do yourself a favor and don't categorize this book as one you should read or have to get to because you will just consider it a chore.The book is a pleasure, it's educational and it's relevant.
Don't often pick up books on the history of Calculus, but I am glad I read this and my only regret is that I did not hear about this 2011 book earlier.
Alan Sklar was flat out excellent. In the first five minutes,you think you are listening to coming attractions for a film, but once you get settled it --Sklar gives a truly remarkable performance.You don't to need the book to follow Sklar's performance but you will want to read it also and that's a credit to Sklar.
The book is often funny,even when it deals with dreary subjects or historically unfunny moments.I laughed our loud and that's a credit to both Dolnick and Sklar.
Don't hesitate. Pick it up. Highly recommended. I don't often take the time to write a review, but this book and the audioreading deserves a wide (or perhaps wider) audience..
This is a great way to pick up some real information and insight into the genius of 17th Century science.
Well read and artfully presented.
infinity.... then it is so much more! Almost made me want to take a calculus class... I got over it, but this book rocked my view of how God revealed some of His mind to Newton, and unlocked the shackles that held thought back for centuries. .. great knitting together of personalities, story, background. ... great narrator. This book brings the whole package, and the Foundation for every adventure available to us in every manner. This book held my attention from start to finish.
Most people think of history as dull and frightfully filled with dates and places, but never the why's things happened. We consider events in the past as if they were set in stone with no options open to the participants. Then, as now, past and present events and personalities effected the actions and choices of the players along the paths that make up our history. Only after time passed were the results held in status. That is, until new information was unearthed - or new ways of viewing were accepted, could the stones of time be removed - events re-positioned and cemented into the new window of our reality.
This books reintroduces us to the 'Greats' of this period and shows up their brilliance and their flaws and does it in the tone of a mentor explaining a family or local history in the parlor over a glass of sherry after a meal. Comfortable, and casual but filled with the rich details that make a story interesting. If history in the classroom could only be explained this way.
Alan Sklar did a great job of leading us through the meandering path of this book showing the high and low points of each contributor in this important segment of our timeline.
Nowadays it is easy to forget how Newton's Principia helped usher in the modern age. Fascinating to think he and a few of his contemporaries solved such epic scientific questions while not being able to fully extricate themselves from wacky ideas such as alchemy.
The laws of motion seem quaint now when you consider ideas such as General Relativity and quantum physics, but we had to start somewhere. This is a great story of that adventure.
Special Collections Librarian at the Marion H. Skidmore Library, Digital Director of The Skeptiseum, co-host of The Thirteenth Four podcast.
This was a well written book on a fascinating topic, and I really appreciate that it was narrated in such an easy to listen to manner. It made things more interesting, such as the discussion of the correspondence between Newton and Leibniz. Well done.
Fascinating history of amazing achievement, remarkable scholars and tender egos.
This is particularly interesting for those with a mathematical bent. The stories of the discovery of calculus and of the relationships of structures of the universes to each other are fascinating.
"some really interesting bits, but jumped about"
I am interested in this period in history and this book provided lots of interesting details. However, at times it seemed to jump about a bit and I was not so comfortable with this lack of a strong flowing narrative
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