Curiosity) [Pdf Read] ✓ Philip Ball
This review first appeared on my blog hereHistories of what is known as the scientific revolution especially those who are writing for a popular audience tend to portray the development of #MODERN SCIENCE AS SOMETHING NEW A # science as something new a from past thought about the world rather than a continuation of it It is as though despite Newton s oft uoted remark about the shoulders of giants the ideas of Copernicus Galileo Descartes and Newton and others in other fields came out of nowhere Inconvenient facts which show the continuing influence of earlier ideas such as Newton s interest in alchemy are left out or mentioned in passing in an embarrassed mannerThe purpose of Ball s book is to show something of the continuous nature of the development of the philosophical ideas which led t Review of the development of the philosophical ideas which led t Review What do we really want to knowAuthor Ball frames a fascinating subject what do we want to know what should we want to know what is and isn t appropriate to know What does science want to know and why what does theology want us to know what to accept by faith and what never to uestion All of these uestions Ball categorizes as curiosity in this deep and sometimes too dense study of the history of science and the scientific revolution which Ball states was neitherIn part as a corrective for those who believe that science developed out of and distinct from magic alchemy and natural philosophy in a small defined set of events in clear contrast to those past and concurrent ways of thinking Ball shows how these ways of thinking all overlapped and intertwined in their subject matter and methods Ball documents how early thinkers now adopted as founding figures of science such as Galileo Newton and Robert Boyle who made a clear break with the unscientific past actually thought in ways and studied subjects congruent with their alchemical peers He also traces philosophies of appropriate areas of study back to Aristotle and Plato and shows how much influence these ancient Greek philosophers still carried in intellectual life centuries later As the definition of curiosity broadened the allowable and patron approved and funded areas of study expanded in the fertile span of ears from the 16th to the 18th centuries that are at the core
Of Ball S HistoryThe Subject Ball s historyThe subject is sometimes better than Ball s approach to it While he throws out names uotes sources and historical allusions in dense arguments and rapid and sometimes confusing transitions his central uestions can be boiled down to this1 What was allowable and would be funded The church and the governments and kings it both owned and answered to had a large part to say in answer to this uestion Science even before the days of big science cost money and needed royal approval to proceed unhindered Government church authorities and wealthy patrons could provide or withhold as the church did from Galileo these vital necessities and also direct how they were used Ball talks about the cabinets of curiosities wealthy collectors assembled to satisfy their own curiosities and shows how these data collection efforts sometimes drove science and sometimes favored magical and alchemical displays of wonder and sometimes the recipients of the finding or the collections moved freely between both ways of thinking2 What did the thinkers themselves consider worthy of curiousity What did they want to know The answer was sometimes everything which some thinkers considered indiscriminate collection that wasted precious money and brainpower In contrast Ball uotes Francis BaconGod has framed the mind like a glass capable of the image of the universe and desirous to receive it as the eye to receive light and thus it is not only pleased with the variety and vicissitudes of things but also endeavours to find out the laws they observe in their changes and alterationsThis uote powerfully amplifies the philosophy that I espouse in The catholic reader the lunchcom website where I post my reviews On the other side were those proto scientists included who wanted to drill down on specific topics with deeper focus and increasingly specialized instruments like microscopes telescopes and air pumps This approach brought counter arguments traced by Ball some satirical on stage and humorous in print such as this one liner All philosophy is based on two things only curiosity and poor eyesight the trouble is we want to know than we can see But it also engaged new worlds for investigation as telescopes opened up the solar system and microscopes revealed whole universes of new data for study closer. There was a time when curiosity was condemned To be curious was to delve into matters that didn't concern ou after all the original sin stemmed from a desire for forbidden knowledge Through curiosity our innocence was lostYet this hasn't deterred us Today we spend vast sums trying to recreate the first instants of creation in particle accelerators out of pure desire to know There seems now to. .
Free read Â PDF, DOC, TXT, eBook or Kindle ePUB free ñ Philip BallAt handAs I said Ball s reach can exceed his grasp "as the fascinating topics sometimes bog down in meandering writing that is too dense for the lay reader to follow But "the fascinating topics sometimes bog down in meandering writing that is too dense for the lay reader to follow But the title and topic and hopefully this review as well peak our curiosity indulge it here I must admit that this book s best uality is probably the author s ambivalence about what he is talking about To be sure I have a very different perspective on science and curiosity and their larger cultural matters and this book does a good job at reminding the reader if such a reminder is necessary that science has always carried with it a large amount of baggage relating
to the larger culture and its own ideas and belief systemsthe larger culture and its own ideas and belief systems the author not been deeply interested in science he likely would have never written this book and certainly would not have adopted the standard scientific beliefs in evolution and the praise of Darwin and other figures that is to be assumed in such books as this Yet the author is intellectually honest enough not to want to pass off hagiography on Galileo and other figures but to address their complex and often idiosyncratic beliefs This took me such a long time to get into that I decided to abandon it The language was often dense and lofty which made the first chapters nearly inaccessible for me Plus the opening is mostly hair splitting about what the word curiosity meant in a variety of cultures contexts and languages So I was doing a lot of mental wandering and zoning out needing to back up and start pages paragraphs and sentences over Later on though when Ball finally gets to individual instances back up and start pages paragraphs and sentences over Later on though when Ball finally gets to individual instances players in the expansion of scientific literacy That s when this took off and became enjoyable But ou have to sit through a lot of droning first and it never really clicked for me interest wise3 stars out of 5 Not my favorite Pop Science author by a long shot Curiosity was considered a vice in the middle ages and before It is a cardinal virtue in science these days It is a term of praise This book takes a look at the scientific revolution in the 17th century and charts the rising fortunes of curiosity and wonder This is also a good history of the scientific revolution with a large cast Galileo Kepler Newton Bacon Boyle Hooke Lippershays Pepys and almost every notable natural philosopher of the time This is a crucial period in Western civilization and ultimately world civilization We slowly formed from pre scientific superstition and scholasticism the beginings of the scientific world view Philip Ball keeps the story interesting by showing the relationships between these people as they hammered out the modern world If ever there was a book I should give 5 to this is it Unfortunately it is superbly written from a syntax standpoint but totally unengaging If anything it is a 3 dB tougher read than Vom Kreig The subject is not only enthralling but critically important to our civilization Admittedly it is complex so the author can be forgiven IMHO for not uite managing to integrate a story I recommend this strongly for any scientist who is an actual nerd and not just a careerist geek It is curious indeed that a curious person like me never thought that curiosity has a history I thought curiosity was something we re born with Indeed even my dogs are curious as were the racoon b why is the sea salty have animals souls or intelligence has opinion its foundation in the animate body why do human beings not have horns how is it that sound in its passage makes its way through any obstacle whatever how is it that joy can be the cause of tears why are the fingers of uneual length why if ou have intercourse with a woman after she has lain with a leper will ou catch the disease while she will escape what reason is there for the universality of death why do we need food so freuently or at all why are the living afraid of the bodies of the dead how is the globe supported in the middle of the air why does the inflow of the rivers not increase the bulk of the ocean why if a vessel be full and its lower part open does water not issue from it unless the upper lid be first removed when one atom is moved are all moved since whatever is in a state of motion moves something else thus setting up infinite motion why do winds travel along the earth s surface and not in an upward direction why does a sort of perpetual shadow brood over the moon granted that the stars are alive on what food do they live ought we regard the cosmos as an inanimate body a living thing or a god Adelard of Bath c1120 A great. Be no uestion too vast or too trivial to be ruled out of bounds Why can fleas jump so high What is gravity What shape are clouds Today curiosity is no longer reviled but celebratedExamining how our inuisitive impulse first became sanctioned changing from a vice to a virtue Curiosity begins with the age when modern science began a time that spans the lives of Galileo and Isaac Newton It reveal. ,
History of the so scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries He examines the main characters and ideas in the revolution and their cultural context It s pretty academic in tone which is okay but it s far of a history book than a book about the evolution of curiosity There are sections on curiosity how it went from being sacrilegious to being necessary for the learning about the world around us But I guess it was heavier with history and philosophical debate than I was expecting from the editorial summary I still learned a lot and am glad I read it but it was tough to slog through it even for me and I m pretty patient with boring science history stuff A mixed bag for me Some chapters were fascinating others dull or misleading The best parts were Ball s takes on the literary responses to the scientific revolution in England chapters 8 and 12 first the slew of Moone books that appeared starting in the 1630s speculating about the possibility of life on the moon second the satirical tradition that emerged in the later part of the 17th century as a reaction to virtuoso Whiggish Puritan culture the last and most famous example of which is Gulliver s Travels Ball has strong opinions about the various works he surveys and is an entertaining critic Chapter strong opinions about the various works he surveys and is an entertaining critic Chapter on the tradition of renaissance natural magic was also uite good and why I bought the book after reading the preview on Google Books Ball champions non traditional figures like Gianbattista della Porta and John Dee and he ably discusses how the tradition of natural magic provided one of the cornerstones on of 17th century natural philosophy The book also gave me a new appreciation of Francis BaconLess good in my opinion were Ball s chapters on the traditional Scientific Revolution astronomy and physics Ball doesn t duplicate his championing of lesser figures here we still learn that Galileo discovered the law of inertia and Descartes merely restated it Gassendi the first to correctly formulate in print the law of rectilinear inertia via Isaac Beeckman not Galileo is described as a follower of Descartes which he wasn t Copernicus is said in the main text to have abolished epicycles in astronomy which he didn t a semi clarifying footnote helps only a little Simon Stevin isn t mentioned Huygens massive contributions to the understanding of force physics aren t mentioned Kepler s polyhedral thesis is dismissed as sheer numerology which it wasn t Kepler and Newton are mathematical mystics who were lucky enough to get good data a pretty uncharitable take to say the least Flamsteed is dismissed as a mere number cruncher except when Ball is ridiculing the magnetic theory of comets he ventured to Newton The explanation of Newton s orbital dynamics is confusing and Ball claims that Newton accomplished what he did because he was fixated on the inverse suare law which strikes me as a weird claim Ball also says matter of factly that Newton must have already proved that the ellipse and area rules followed from the inverse suare law by the time Halley visited him in 1684 which is actually uite controversial among historiansThe remaining chapters are ok Chapter 9 pretty much just restates the arguments and some of the reaction to Leviathan and the Air Pump but it s interesting stuff Chapter 10 tells about the microscope I share Ball s obvious affection for Robert Hooke so I can t complain Chapter 11 tells a partial history of the theory of light but omits a lot like the discovery of the sine law of refraction or the new theories of vision Ball focuses almost completely on England and the Royal Society with only occasional references to figures on the Continent It leaves me wondering if Ball is just following the recent trends in history of science or if he thinks there is something special and curious about England and if so whyTrying to answer this uestion might have been fruitful As is the theme of curiosity isn t very well developed Unfortunately the concluding chapter made almost no sense at all to me I don t understand what Ball thinks curiosity is to science or what the examples from the 17th century have to tell us about it Ball clearly prefers the virtuosos the hands on experimentalists to the theorists That s fine but what separates good curiosity good science good speculation from bad I get the feeling that Ball has real opinions on this subject but mostly he just resorts to vague hand waving about how scientists shouldn t either speculate wildly or become automatons That s too bad because Ball makes a good critic. S a complex story in which the liberation and the taming of curiosity was linked to magic religion literature travel trade and empireBy examining the rise of curiosity we can ask what has become of it today how it functions in science how it is spun and packaged and sold how well it is being sustained and honoured and how the changing shape of science influences the kinds of uestions it may as.