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Friday, September 2, 2011

thoughts on: The Clockwork Universe

The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern WorldThe Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World by Edward Dolnick

Weaving explanations of the math and science into the history of its discoverers, Dolnick not only captured my interest, but explained things so simply that they even made sense to non-math-minded me!

The Clockwork Universe is divided into three sections, setting the historical setting of Newton's day, discussing the discoveries and false starts which preceded him, and showing us Newton himself, brilliant and focused and crabby.  It is a nicely balanced book, neither overwhelming with math, nor bogging down in details about personal lives, quirks, or rivalries.  There was just enough of everything to keep the narrative going while explaining the significance of the discoveries. 

Essential to understanding Newton is understanding his faith.  Newton firmly believed that unlocking the mathematical code of the world was gaining insight into the mind of God.  He believed and desired that a better understanding of the intricacies of creation would lead to greater adoration of God.  This can be a difficult topic today.  It seems that many writers choose to ignore the impact of faith, emphasize it as being thankfully archaic, or lament its loss.  Dolnick avoided all of these.

1 comment:

Missus Wookie said...

Interesting - thanks for the recommendation :)