Is science beautiful? Yes, argues acclaimed philosopher and historian of science Robert P. Crease in this engaging exploration of history’s most beautiful experiments. The result is an engrossing journey through nearly 2,500 years of scientific innovation. Along the way, we encounter glimpses into the personalities and creative thinking of some of the field’s most interesting figures.
We see the first measurement of the earth’s circumference, accomplished in the third century B.C. by Eratosthenes using sticks, shadows, and simple geometry. We visit Foucault’s mesmerizing pendulum, a cannonball suspended from the dome of the Panthéon in Paris that allows us to see the rotation of the earth on its axis. We meet Galileo—the only scientist with two experiments in the top ten—brilliantly drawing on his musical training to measure the speed of falling bodies. And we travel to the quantum world, in the most beautiful experiment of all.
We also learn why these ten experiments exert such a powerful hold on our imaginations. From the ancient world to cutting-edge physics, these ten exhilarating moments reveal something fundamental about the world, pulling us out of confusion and revealing nature’s elegance. The Prism and the Pendulum brings us face-to-face with the wonder of science.
From the Hardcover edition.
Share your thoughts on the The Prism and the Pendulum Science & Nature eBook with others!
|Title of eBook: The Prism and the Pendulum|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
This eBook download is available in the following formats:
|Parent title||The Prism and the...|
|Devices||Samsung Tablet, Apple Ipad & Iphone, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo eReader, Aluratek Libre, Iliad, Nokia, Blackberry, Hanlin|
|Note||ePub, short for electronic publication is one of our favorites and should be yours for a couple of reasons. ePub offers reflowable text giving you flexibility to manipulate how the content is presented. Moreover, lots of cool features are now being developed for the reader like advanced video and audio. ePub is now an industry standard, so all of the "non-propreitary" hardware manufacturers are now supporting it.|
The Prism and the Pendulum
MEASURING THE WORLD: Eratosthenes' Measurement of the Earth's Circumference
IN THE THIRD CENTURY B.C., A GREEK SCHOLAR NAMED Eratosthenes (ca. 276-ca. 195 b.c.) made the first known measurement of the size of the earth. His tools were simple: the shadow cast by the pointer of a sundial, plus a set of measurements and assumptions. But the measurement was so ingenious that it would be cited authoritatively for hundreds of years. It is so simple and instructive that it is reenacted annually, almost 2,500 years later, by schoolchildren all around the globe. And the principle is so elegant that grasping it all but makes you want to go measure the length of a shadow.
Eratosthenes' experiment combined two ideas of far-reaching importance. The first was to picture the cosmos as a set of objects (the earth, sun, planets, and stars) in ordinary three-dimensional space. This may seem obvious to us but was not widely believed then; it was a Greek contribution to science to insist that underneath the myriad, ever-changing motions in the world and in the night sky lay an impersonal and changeless order, a cosmic architecture that could be described and explained by geometry. The second idea was to apply ordinary measurement practices to understand the scope and dimensions of this cosmic architecture. In combining these two ideas, Eratosthenes came up with the audacious notion that the same techniques that had been developed for building houses and bridges, laying out fields and roads, and predicting floods and monsoons could provide information about the dimensions of the earth and other heavenly bodies.
Eratosthenes began by assuming that the earth was approximat