Between 1608 and 1610 the canopy of the night sky changed forever, ripped open by an object created almost by accident: a cylinder with lenses at both ends. Galileo's Telescope tells the story of how an ingenious optical device evolved from a toy-like curiosity into a precision scientific instrument, all in a few years.Read more...
Between 1608 and 1610 the canopy of the night sky changed forever, ripped open by an object created almost by accident: a cylinder with lenses at both ends. Galileo's Telescope tells the story of how an ingenious optical device evolved from a toy-like curiosity into a precision scientific instrument, all in a few years. In transcending the limits of human vision, the telescope transformed humanity's view of itself and knowledge of the cosmos.
Galileo plays a leading--but by no means solo--part in this riveting tale. He shares the stage with mathematicians, astronomers, and theologians from Paolo Sarpi to Johannes Kepler and Cardinal Bellarmine, sovereigns such as Rudolph II and James I, as well as craftsmen, courtiers, poets, and painters. Starting in the Netherlands, where a spectacle-maker created a spyglass with the modest magnifying power of three, the telescope spread like technological wildfire to Venice, Rome, Prague, Paris, London, and ultimately India and China. Galileo's celestial discoveries--hundreds of stars previously invisible to the naked eye, lunar mountains, and moons orbiting Jupiter--were announced to the world in his revolutionary treatise Sidereus Nuncius.
Combining science, politics, religion, and the arts, Galileo's Telescope rewrites the early history of a world-shattering innovation whose visual power ultimately came to embody meanings far beyond the science of the stars.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-05-04
- Reviewer: Staff
Putting Galileo's celestial discoveries in the context of the world from 1609 to 1612 is an interesting concept, but the execution of this investigation never quite matches it. The authors, professors of the history of science at various Italian universities, follow the development of the telescope from the Netherlands to the city-states of Italy, Prague, England, and eventually China. Johannes Kepler, Tycho Brahe, and Nikolaus Copernicus are mentioned often, and Kepler's support of Galileo aided early excitement over the latter's discoveries of Jupiter's moons and craters on Luna. While these breakthroughs were approvingly discussed by the intelligentsia of the period, dissent arose—not on religious grounds, but over belief that the observations were due to "tricks of the lenses and not real phenomena." This attempt to paint the world surrounding Galileo's achievements is laced with interesting information. However, it is badly organized and replete with convoluted sentences, murky political background, and interruptive technical digressions on the minutiae of lens making. Avid students of the period may enjoy this book, but it's not for general readers. (Mar.)