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.
In a world of chaos and uncertainty, a small group of men formed a society that plumbed the deepest secrets of the known universe and discovered an underlying order that astonished and amazed them. Follow the stories of Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and Leibniz as they wrestle with new and unfamiliar concepts and joint them in wonder as a toatlly different sort of universe emerges before their eyes. This is a very exciting read and Alan Sklar does it justice. I listended to it twice in a row.
It was a great story and the naration was first rate.
The discussion of Newton's conflicts with Leibnitz and Hooke
I have read a good bit about this era in phsysics before but found out a lot of Newton and his contemporaries. Also the author put the science in the context of the times
The book would have made Math studies more interesting to me as a Middle school student. Opened up the reasoning behind the discovery of Calculus.
It was well written and showed the reader the history behind the discovery of the Math that lead to the scientific discoveries concerning astronomy from the 17th century to now.
Also showing that the primary purpose of the work that the early astronomers was to show /explain the hand of God in the universe design.
This a fascinating history of science book, but much more. The groundwork leading to Newton's breathtaking achievements or delightfully depicted (for example Kepler's work - but most of what he produced was nonsense!) And why were the dark ages so dark for so long!
It has been decades since college, but having listened to this I have a deeper understanding of what I was trying to learn then in Physics, Calculus and Astronomy. The story quickly moves along, the narration is first rate. I plan on listening to more of this author's work.
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Isaac Newton and the Royal Society (and Leibniz) present a really captivating subject. In terms of the history of ideas, arguments for and against progress, philosophical uncertainty and the like this time period is perfect. However, Dolnick's characterization of the late 17th Century is just that: a characterization. Its presentation is horribly naive and often anachronistic. Dolnick frequently uses unnecessary anachronistic metaphors in order to relate, I presume, to lowest denominator readers when there are plenty of periodic examples that would be commonsensical enough for any reader.
It's hard to say whether Dolnick is doing this because of poor historical research or in order to be more of a pop-history for the sake of higher sales. All that said, I do not think Dolnick is naive or a poor historicist in general, that is another question altogether. What is evident is that he simplifies a time period drastically and with no apparent means. The most disappointing aspect of Dolnick's characterization is that it lacks respects for the reader's intelligence. However, once Dolnick gets into the profound ideas of these figures, the whole book is much more enjoyable. It is apparent he had a deep relationship with their ideas. While I'm not convinced he understands the history of ideas or the gravity (no pun intended) of them, it is apparent his knowledge of science and mathematics is proficient. And he'd probably make a pretty great teacher (especially since he seems like the kind of guy who would go off on some pretty great tangents).
After listening to the book and writing this review, I think it is fair to say that I am just not the audience Dolnick was writing for. I expected a lot more from the historical part of this book and much less from the comical side notes part. But this book was certainly enjoyable even though I did not find it very accurate.
The narration of this book is, overall, pretty great. I have an odd liking for older voices. I doubt I would have given up on this book, but it certainly helped to have Sklar forging forward. He seemed to realize Dolnick's whimsical tone and kept a pretty quick pace. Sklar definitely brought the words to life. Like a grandfather's tale, while I may not have fully agreed with everything I heard, I certainly enjoyed it.
This books seems like a good starting point. It is somewhat superficial. But definitely a nice find for someone that does not know much or anything about this subject.
The audiobook was exciting and informative in Part 1, which dealt with the Royal Society, Astronomers, and scientific discoveries. It lost me in Part 2, which went into too much detail in its coverage of the different mathematic disciplines
The narrator did have the inflection of a teacher explaining things to a kindergarden class. This was tolerable in the first half, but annoying in the second.
This is a great read to give you a new perspective of the history of science and math. I really appreciated the insight into what it was like in the 1600's and how these men came to enlighten all.
This book gave me a perspective on the development of science and rational thinking over the last few millenia, and last few centuries. It is read with interest and thought and humour, and gave researched background into the figures of history that generated the theories we live by. It makes my life richer to have this contextual understanding of how the universe works and how the world of the Royal Society works. Martin Reese, immediate past president, is one of my heroes.
Galileo was quite a character and made me laugh to hear about.
Alan reads with insight and humour.
The book does a very good job of explaining the context of the beginnings of what we call the "Scientific Revolution". Unfortunately, it makes the jump from the Greeks to the Europeans of the 17th Century without even mentioning that many of those later Europeans relied upon Islamic thinkers like Ibn Alhazen.
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