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The Clockwork Universe Audiobook

The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, The Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World

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Publisher's Summary

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.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2011 Edward Dolnick (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

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  •  
    doug APPLETON, WI, United States 11-14-15
    doug APPLETON, WI, United States 11-14-15

    Just some dude.

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    "One of the best books in my collection!"

    if you love science and history and a good story combine with an wonderful excellent reader that brings the writing to life then you will love this book as I do!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Amazon Customer TONASKET, WA, US 11-13-15
    Amazon Customer TONASKET, WA, US 11-13-15 Member Since 2015
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    "a romp through 17th century science."

    a fascinating overview of the changes in the worldview of science due to the new revelations brought in by the great minds of the era. I was amazed by how tightly even great minds hold to religious views that instead of abandoning the idea of a God they would modify their interpretation of him to fit the new ideas which in most cases flew in the face of the texts of the Bible.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather Mrowiec 11-11-15
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    "The first audiobook I've ever bailed on."
    Any additional comments?

    I'm really interested in the subject material and was excited to listen to this book, but after 3 hours I just can't do it anymore. The book is poorly organized and rambling. I made it through chapter 13 but I feel like I'm still waiting for it to get started. I could probably deal with that, but it feels like the narrator is the guy from Ancient Aliens - when he's not being massively over-dramatic he's chuckling condescendingly about those silly people who still believe in WITCHES! Imagine that! If you're interested in this time period, just read Neal Stephenson's System of the World series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nagy Barnabás Budapest, Hungary 11-07-15
    Nagy Barnabás Budapest, Hungary 11-07-15 Member Since 2013

    Aeroboogie

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    "Immensely entertaining medieval discoveries"

    This is one of the books that I found immensely entertaining, partially due to the narrator's presentation, and partially due to the content. When you learn about mathematics, physics and other sciences at school, The scientists behind the inventions are only mentioned by name, but this book does a great job on the detail about their living circumstances, and the era that they were part of. I would encourage to this book to read for high school students, when they learn about the basic scientific concepts written in the book. This could greatly add to their understanding, almost imagining these discoveries coming to life as in a movie.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily 11-06-15
    Emily 11-06-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Loved it"

    I learned a ton about the history of many topics in math and physics that I have used many times without thinking about their origins before. The stories of these great men's lives were fascinating. The only negative for me was the belabored explanation of how calculus works. I'm not sure how easy it would be for someone to understand if they weren't already familiar with calc, but it got quite repetitive from my perspective. Despite that I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen 11-05-15
    Stephen 11-05-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Appealing to the non-scientific."

    Give this book a chance even if you are not scientific. It is a really fascinating history lesson told in an entertaining way.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ross Newmarket, Ontario, Canada 11-02-15
    Ross Newmarket, Ontario, Canada 11-02-15 Member Since 2006

    Enjoys espionage, mystery, police procedurals, science, biographies.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Bounces around until it develops powerful momentum"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul J Giordano 11-01-15
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    "Don't often write reviews or recommendations."
    What made the experience of listening to The Clockwork Universe the most enjoyable?

    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.


    What other book might you compare The Clockwork Universe to and why?

    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.


    What about Alan Sklar’s performance did you like?

    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.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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..

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Fuge 11-01-15
    J. Fuge 11-01-15 Member Since 2014

    something better

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    "Newton for the layperson"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Greg Visalia, CA, United States 10-28-15
    Greg Visalia, CA, United States 10-28-15 Member Since 2010
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    "it's all about the numbers, unless it's all about"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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