In From Clockwork to Crapshoot, Roger Newton, whose previous works have been widely praised for erudition and accessibility, presents a. From Clockwork to Crapshoot provides the perspective needed to understand contemporary developments in physics in relation to philosophical traditions as far. From Clockwork to Crapshoot: A History of Physics. Roger G. Newton, Author. Harvard/Belknap $ (p) ISBN

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This was especially so because some of the new, more accurate stellar tables generated in the West might be relevant to the lunar-based Muslim calendar. Signs of its use have been found in bodies exhumed from prehistoric graves, and the operation is clearly depicted on the walls of a tomb of the sixth dynasty in Egypt, which ruled c. Islam bore no religious preconceptions concerning the earth as the center of the universe.

He based this conclusion on several arguments, the first Platonic and the others empirical: Even the Hindus learned the art of alphabetical writing from the Phoenicians. Rather than determining every occurrence in nature, God came to be seen as responsible for setting up nature in such a way that chains of 48 From Clockwork to Crapshoot events caused other chains of events, and natural philosophy became the appropriate discipline for the study of these phenomena of the world.

Similar ideas clockwodk in Indian philosophy, but four hundred years later. Sign in Create an account. As an adult, Pythagoras is said to have fled the tyranny of Polycrates, the ruler of Samos, traveled much in Babylonia and Egypt, and eventually settled in the Dorian colony of Croton, near the southern tip of Italy. For Lucretius, nothing existed in the infinite universe but indestructible atoms of various shapes, without color, sound, taste, odor, or temperature, moving irregularly in empty space.


From Clockwork to Crapshoot: A History of Physics

At this stage, no attempt was yet being made to understand or explain nature. The fact that water leaves the mountains and runs to the sea is not due to any dislike 16 From Clockwork to Crapshoot of the mountains and love for the sea, but is the clockworkk of height as such. Nevertheless, in one form or another it remained alive for many centuries. Very early hints of what eventually grew into medical science appeared in Mesopotamia—roughly the region now making up Iraq and Syria—and in Egypt, where circumcision was practiced as early as bce.

A minute examination of the high-precision data he had inherited from Tycho Brahe convinced him that Mars could not be moving uniformly in a circle, and the attenuating pull from the sun could easily account for its slowing down at greater distance if the orbit were not circular.

No eBook available Amazon. Considered the greatest astronomer of the fifteenth century, he spent much time and effort on attempts to determine the size and distance of comets, which he regarded as having no proper motion. However, as Joseph Needham informs us in his magisterial Science and Civilisation in China, the contributions of the Confucians to science were almost entirely negative. Written for the general scientifically clovkwork reader rather than for professional scientists, the book presents, whenever needed, brief explanations of the scientific issues involved, biographical thumbnail sketches of the protagonists, and descriptions of the changing instruments that enabled scientists to discover ever new facts begging to be understood and to test their theories.


At the most fundamental level, chance took the place of necessity. However, as his figures were mistaken and his calculations in error, he arrived at results that were histkry incorrect. Benefiting from extensive travels to Egypt, Thales was both the first Greek mathematician and the first Greek astronomer, but he was also a very practical politician and businessman. Mentioned both in Genesis and Ezekiel, the rainbow in particular begged to be understood by Biblical scholars.

Moreover, c,ockwork did this not through wild speculation but through careful astronomical reasoning. The proof he is said to have given is very simple and is still taught in high schools today Fig.

He resolved then and there to change this state of affairs and to spend all his efforts making and recording accurate observations of the heavens and correcting all the existing tables. His principal treatise dealt with plane and spherical trigonometry, the first textbook ever to treat that subject independently of astronomy.

Compared with the state of physical science in the world some seven hundred years earlier, the Greeks had made enormous advances, even though their progress was based in large part on earlier Babylonian and Egyptian traditions. The magnitude of this resistance was here taken as fixed, but for different friction—motion in water versus motion in air, for example—the constant of proportionality though he does not put it that way between FT and MD was assumed to increase with this friction.

To understand the workings of nature, Aristotle looked for causes of phenomena, and among these he distinguished four kinds: These discoveries created among the comparatively ignorant Christians of Europe an insatiable thirst for the knowledge of the much more civilized pagans and infidels, a thirst that could be slaked only by translating all the old fonts of wisdom into Latin so as to make them readily available to Western scholars. The year saw the birth of Islam and the beginning of the rapid Science in the Middle Ages 45 Arab conquest of the area from India, across northern Africa, and into Spain.

But the development of Aa science could have been seriously impeded, if not wholly foreclosed, had Christianity in the Physivs Ages adopted a more fundamentally hostile stance toward the pagan philosophical ideas Europe inherited from the Greek civilization and toward their off-spring, which eventually grew into modern science.

Note the contrast between this command performance for the benefit of the people and the individual, curiosity-driven research for understanding by the Greek scientist, to whom we now return. The bishop of Paris effectively decreed that God had the power to do anything he desired, lawful or not.

The leading expert on optical phenomena in the West, the Dominican friar Dietrich von Freiberg c. The empire created by Roman military might produced vast technical improvements such as a far-flung network of roads and aqueducts, as well as cities with paved streets and plumbing facilities. Quips, Quotes, and Quanta.


Four years later, inhe died there, leaving all his accumulated data to Johannes Kepler, who had been his assistant during his final year. The gradual ti of bronze by the much harder metal iron in frpm Mesopotamian and Egyptian region produced a great upheaval that lasted for several centuries around bce.

Though he was widely known at the time primarily as a physician and was the first person to give a clinical description of typhus fever, his book Ars Magna played an important role in the history of algebra. The Greek Miracle 31 different, contradictory postulate, thereby constructing alternative geometries known as non-Euclidean. Every occurrence had a cause, according to Aristotle; so God could not produce any occurrence he wished, natural cause or no?

Werner Heisenberg – – Continuum. His primary arithmetical tools were drawing dots in sand, and counting out pebbles. At the age of seventeen he observed and historg his first planetary conjunction, 72 From Clockwork to Crapshoot between Jupiter and Saturn, and discovered that all the existing astronomical tables, including those of Copernicus, were grossly inaccurate in their predictions of this event.

Ionia was the meeting place of many phyxics routes from beyond the Black Sea, from Mesopotamia, and from Egypt, and of sea trade with the Aegean islands and all of the eastern Mediterranean.

The main body of a clepsydra consisted of a vessel with an opening at the top for pouring in water, and one or more holes at the 20 From Clockwork to Crapshoot bottom that allowed the water ftom drain at an even rate, thereby serving as a clock. Democritus of Abdera, born c. The Beginnings 7 Sumerian civilization flourished from the beginning of the third until the middle of the second millennium bce, and its number system was position-based, analogous to our own.

Nevertheless, he was the first person anywhere who is known to have understood that such general theorems were needed, and that explaining practical solutions to problems on the basis of general principles is of far greater value than merely solving individual cases.

During the ninth century, almost every significant mathematician was also an astronomer or astrologer.

From Clockwork to Crapshoot: A History of Physics – Roger G Newton – Google Books

He was the first director of this well-equipped observatory, which was said to have several Chinese astronomers and scientists in residence whom Hulagu frim brought with him from China. Meanwhile, we must not forget the greatest of the Greek scientists, Archimedes, who lived just before Hipparchus. The book is not a detailed history that judges the contributions of every one of the individuals involved in this enterprise, important as some of them may have been, nor does it trace the origin of every new concept to its ultimate source.