February 2011

The Clockwork Universe Edward Dolnick was at Politics and Prose bookstore tonight giving a talk on his book, “The Clockwork Universe“. Engaging speaker and an interesting talk. My son Brandon also came along and he was surprised to find it interesting enough to come out of the cafe.

The author didn’t do a reading from the book; he spent about 20 minutes giving a very interesting overview of the historical period in which Newton and contemporaries lived. We sometimes forget that these geniuses were living in a very different world from ours today; one in which basic hygiene and knowledge of how the physical world worked was about non-existent. London of the time (around 1660) was a very dirty, disgusting place to live. It certainly didn’t help that the Plague hit London in 1666, and within a year 1/5 of the population were dead (100,000 people) Mr. Dolnick also touched on how the people of the time *really* thought of God as someone pulling all the strings all the time- nothing at all happened in the world that was not directly due to God’s intervention. Newton et al. very much were men of their times, and as such assumed that everything was due to God; they were merely trying to “read God’s mind” as it were.

Fascinating history of the start of the Royal Society, the oldest Scientific organization in the world. Ideas were being thrown around those meetings: one minute they would be discussing whether or not a spider placed inside a circle of “unicorn dust” could leave the circle and the next they would be discussing astronomy and the orbits of planets. Oh, to be a fly on the wall!



Edward Dolnick talking at Politics and Prose, 2/26/2011

Edward Dolnick talking at Politics and Prose, 2/26/2011

Edward Dolnick talking at Politics and Prose, 2/26/2011

Edward Dolnick talking at Politics and Prose, 2/26/2011

I have to give credit to this bookseller- doesn’t hold anything back from the description of this book for sale. I’d be tempted if only for the historical bit, but I’ll pass…

And just for the record, accurate descriptions like this is one of the reasons I buy from this seller (and the fact that you can spend days lost in their physical store) :)

The Principle of Relativity: A Collection of Original Memoirs on the Special and General Theory of Relativity 1st Edition

by H. A. Lorentz and A. Einstein and H. Minkowski and H. Weyl

New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1923. Octavo, 14.5 x 22 cm, 216pp. 1st American edition. Original blue cloth with paper label affixed to the spine. Boards are worn and soiled, with chipping and loss to the paper spine label. Hinges badly cracked; spine shaken; front free endpaper is partially detached. A spot stain to the top of the text block; some toning to the pages, especially the edges; name in ink on the front free endpaper; light pencil marginalia scattered throughout. Fair condition.