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← Short list for Royal Society Prize for Science Books 2010

Short list for Royal Society Prize for Science Books 2010 - Comments

bachfiend's Avatar Comment 1 by bachfiend

Of the 6 books on the short list, I've read "Life Ascending: The 10 Great Inventions of Evolution" and thought that it was very good (and I think that it will win, partly because the Centre for Science and Culture -aka the Discovery Institute- think that it's dreadful i.e. destroys ID), read "Why E = m x c squared" and plan to read "A World Without Ice"

Tue, 31 Aug 2010 08:27:05 UTC | #508398

uva3021's Avatar Comment 2 by uva3021

The phrase "evidence of absence" can never be an empirical absolute. If contemporary ways of research and science are not sufficient to produce a definitive answer to a theory or question, that is not to say in the near or distant future we will not discover ways of dissenting from any previously asserted fact. Which is a pretty banal explanation but the truth nonetheless.

Tue, 31 Aug 2010 09:05:18 UTC | #508410

mmurray's Avatar Comment 3 by mmurray

Comment 2 by uva3021 :

The phrase "evidence of absence" can never be an empirical absolute. If contemporary ways of research and science are not sufficient to produce a definitive answer to a theory or question, that is not to say in the near or distant future we will not discover ways of dissenting from any previously asserted fact. Which is a pretty banal explanation but the truth nonetheless.

I think you have commented in the wrong section.

Michael

Tue, 31 Aug 2010 09:49:47 UTC | #508421

Bala's Avatar Comment 4 by Bala

All of them sound great. I'm torn between "why E=mc2" and "we need to talk about kelvin" for my next book.

Tue, 31 Aug 2010 10:27:47 UTC | #508433

Bliszs's Avatar Comment 5 by Bliszs

:/ why is there not more astrophysics books

Tue, 31 Aug 2010 11:17:30 UTC | #508465

Cosmicshore's Avatar Comment 6 by Cosmicshore

I'm currently reading 'Why Does E=mc2' it's not the easiest of reads; very heavy on maths. But I'm still enjoying it nevertheless. Brian Cox instills a sense of wonder at the universe to todays generation - much like what Carl Sagan did a few decades ago.

Tue, 31 Aug 2010 18:05:22 UTC | #508757

Zarniwoop's Avatar Comment 7 by Zarniwoop

I have read Life Ascending by Nick Lane. It is an up to date gorgeously written book on some of the greatest discoveries of evolution. The first two chapters on the Origin of Life are perhaps the finest chapters ever to have been written on this topic. The next chapter on the origin of Photosynthesis is phenomenal! I have a degree in Biochemistry from Imperial College and I can rate this book highly. It is jam packed with the latest scientific discoveries in the various fields and focuses particularly on biochemistry.

I have also read why E=Mc2. Also a 'good' book but not as well written or inspirational as Life Ascending. Also, it doesn't add anything new that you don't already know - just explains it differently. Read Life Ascending. Borrow it. Buy it. Steal it if you have to but just get a copy!

Tue, 31 Aug 2010 20:59:30 UTC | #508835

bachfiend's Avatar Comment 8 by bachfiend

I am sceptical about the arguments in "God's Philosophers:How the medieval world laid the foundations of modern science". I have read the free sample that Amazon provides for its Kindle, and I must admit that I find the introduction unconvincing.

I have just finished David Clark's May, 2010 book "Germs, Genes and Civilisation: How Epidemics Shaped Who We Are Today", and I find his argument that it was the Black Death in 1347 that had more to do with the rise of science, with Church trained physicians using centuries old writings of long-dead authorities failing miserably to stem the ravages of a disease that killed up to 50% of the West European population.

I'd tip this book for the long list next year.

Wed, 01 Sep 2010 00:27:21 UTC | #508896

Distort's Avatar Comment 9 by Distort

God's Philosophers is garbage. I hate to say that, but as a historian, I feel like I have to. Science was started in ancient Greece, not in the middle-ages. This is a common known fact to ancient historians and there are many good books written on it. They understood that the universe ran on symmetries, had elaborate dissections of plants and animals, did axiomic geometry, created a working steam engine, and thousands of other things. These ancient men formed ideas, tested them, recorded the results, and compared them with other intellectuals' findings.

Here is one of the most scholarly sound (and enjoyable) books on the subject.

Wed, 01 Sep 2010 05:39:25 UTC | #508984

TimONeill's Avatar Comment 10 by TimONeill

"God's Philosophers is garbage."

I find it kind of helps to actually read the book before you declare it "garbage". As an atheist, historian and (most importantly) someone who has read the book, I can assure everyone here that it is most certainly not "garbage". In fact, it's excellent. And of course science, or something close to it, began in Greece - Hannam fully acknowledges this. But it was the way in which the intellectual culture of the Middle Ages took and developed that Greco-Roman inheritance that laid the foundations of the later flowering of true science in its modern form (which actually didn't exist in ancient Greece or in the Middle Ages). Thus the subtitle of Hannam's book.

Naturally, people who want to cling to outdated Nineteenth Century cliches about the Middle Ages being an age of unrelieved darkness lit only by the occasional burning of a scientific innovator are not going to be happy to learn that actual historians of science abandoned those ideas about 100 years ago. But it takes time for proper scholarship to filter down - especially when people have ideological stakes in clinging to the old ideas. Hannam's book is being recognised precisely because it makes several decades of specialised scholarship accesible to the non-specialist for the first time.

For a detailed review of Hannam's book see my full review here. Atheists who are rationalists and are interested in the facts about the development of early science should start with Hannam's book. Bigots who don't want their ideological ideas disturbed by actual information should avoid it.

Wed, 01 Sep 2010 07:37:18 UTC | #509002

Distort's Avatar Comment 11 by Distort

Tim,

Starting from the fall of Rome and lasting about 400 years (500-900 CE), Europe was in a dark age. To say otherwise is just smug apologetics. The mistake most people make is by equating the entire middle-age period to mean the Dark-age, which is much larger than the Dark Age. This is not true and this does indeed need to be pointed out.

Christianity also did not cause the 400 year dark age period, it was a symptom of it. As shown in many pieces of research, rationality is abandoned in harsh economic times for superstition. This made religion an easy sell.

HOWEVER, the Greeks had real science. In fact, we know now that Europe did not catch up to their ideas and methodologies until Galileo and Kepler.

Also, Christianity did destroy a great deal of ancient learning. The most colorful example of this is the Archimedes Codex, which shows that Christian monks were taking ancient science books and stripping them and making Bibles out of them.

There was also the fact that Roger Bacon, who Christians love to call the first scientists (despite ancient Greece) was put in Jail and his ideas were banned. Also, despite what you say, that is not what happened with Galileo. If it was just a scientific disagreement, his book, along with Copernicus', would not have been placed on the Liborium Prohibitorum, the index of banned heretical books.

One last note, I find Lynn White being mentioned hilarious because his work (MT and Soc Change) was so brutally refuted within two months of it coming out for its incredible inaccuracies.

Wed, 01 Sep 2010 13:07:24 UTC | #509160

bachfiend's Avatar Comment 12 by bachfiend

I'm inclined to agree with Greg Corey regarding "God's Philosophers". I bought it last night. So far I have only read about the first 100 or so pages, so I can't give a complete opinion, but so far it seems to be a light and very insubstantial work, not worthy of being on the short list of best SCIENCE books.

Hannam discusses Thomas Bradwardine (1290-1349), mentions that he was Edward III confessor, was at the battle of Crechy, was appointed archbishop of Canterbury, put Aristotle's (erroneous) theory of motion into mathematics, possibly developed logarithms, realised that bodies of different weights fall at the same speed, ... and was going to revolutionise science and mathematics. I looked in vain for Hannam to mention that Bradwardine also died of the Black Death.

I would have thought that a plague that afflicted Europe for over 300 years, killing at least 50% of the population, recurring 2 or 3 times a generation, would have at least had some slight mention.

As I have said in a previous comment, I find David Clark's book "Germs, Genes and Civilisation" a much better explanation for the modernisation of science. Technology improved because of necessity; there were fewer people available to do the work. The plague also saw the end of the feudal system, at least in western Europe.

Wed, 01 Sep 2010 20:23:15 UTC | #509402

TimONeill's Avatar Comment 13 by TimONeill

Starting from the fall of Rome and lasting about 400 years (500-900 CE), Europe was in a dark age. To say otherwise is just smug apologetics.

Luckily for Hannam, he never says otherwise. If you had actually read the book you are blithely condemning as "garbage" you would know that.

Christianity also did not cause the 400 year dark age period, it was a symptom of it.

Strange then that the Byzantine Empire, which didn't collapse and suffered no Dark Age when it came to learning and science, was equally Christian as the west.

Also, Christianity did destroy a great deal of ancient learning. The most colorful example of this is the Archimedes Codex, which shows that Christian monks were taking ancient science books and stripping them and making Bibles out of them.

Nonsense. In an era when parchment was precious people took any book that was damaged, in a language which they couldn't read or for which they had no use and recycled the parchment. That palimpsest was made in the Twelfth Century - a period in which we have plenty of examples of Byzantine monks preserving classical works, not destroying them. To extrapolate from one example of a single palimpsest to "Christian monks were destroying ancient science books!" is hysterical and absurd.

There was also the fact that Roger Bacon, who Christians love to call the first scientists (despite ancient Greece) was put in Jail and his ideas were banned.

Bacon was placed under some form of house arrest by his order's Minister-General in 1277. It's unclear why. It may be because his works on astrology inclined towards determinism or it could be because of suspected sympathies with the radical "Spiritual" faction in his order. Whatever it was, he was released and was back studying in Oxford the next year. And his works were never "banned".

If it was just a scientific disagreement, his book, along with Copernicus', would not have been placed on the Liborium Prohibitorum, the index of banned heretical books.

The problem was that he couldn't prove his ideas to be "philosophically true" because there were still several outstanding scientific objections to them. And they contradicted the standard interpretation of several scriptures. So teaching them as proven when they weren't was considered heretical. Bellarmine made it clear that if those outstanding scientific objections could be definitively answered then it would be the scriptures that would have to be re-interpreted. Which is precisely what happened when Newton's Principia did just that.

I find Lynn White being mentioned hilarious because his work (MT and Soc Change) was so brutally refuted within two months of it coming out for its incredible inaccuracies.

White's overall thesis was always disputed and key aspects of it, as I note in my review, have long since been debunked. But the general theme of the rise in the standard of living in Europe thanks to the harnessing of key technologies in the early Medieval Period is accepted.

And neither the Greeks nor the Medievals practised science in the modern sense, though the precursor to it they did practice laid the foundations for modern science. Which is the accepted and totally unremarkable point this book makes.

Wed, 01 Sep 2010 20:41:50 UTC | #509415

TimONeill's Avatar Comment 14 by TimONeill

I looked in vain for Hannam to mention that Bradwardine also died of the Black Death.

Probably because we don't know how Bradwardine died. He died in 1349, which is the year after the Black Death hit England, so it may have been because of the plague or it may not have been.

I would have thought that a plague that afflicted Europe for over 300 years, killing at least 50% of the population, recurring 2 or 3 times a generation, would have at least had some slight mention.

Then you clearly didn't look at Page 195, the final page of Chapter 12. Give that a try.

I find David Clark's book "Germs, Genes and Civilisation" a much better explanation for the modernisation of science. Technology improved because of necessity

In the pre-modern eras "science" and "technolgy" had very little to do with each other.

Wed, 01 Sep 2010 20:51:50 UTC | #509424

bachfiend's Avatar Comment 15 by bachfiend

"Then you clearly didn't look at Page 195, the final page of Chapter 12. Give that a try".

Yes, you're right, I had only got up to page 100 or so.

The page reads in part; "This first wave of the Black Death took Thomas Bradwardine with it".

So Hannam seems to disagree with; "Probably because we don't know how Bradwardine died. He died in 1349, which is the year after the Black Death hit England, so it may have been because of the plague or it may not have been".

He goes on to write; The effects of the Black Death went beyond the enormous death toll, which included many of Europe's finest natural philosophers. It mocked the ability of Man to control his destiny and made fools of the doctors. In finding it again, they would discard almost the entire legacy of medieval philosophy".

This fits nicely with David Clark's arguments.

"In the pre-modern eras "science" and "technolgy" had very little to do with each other". I suppose my comment was prompted by Hannam spending so much space early in the book writing about technology (I can't give the pages because the Kindle for Mac application doesn't give pages); Ploughs, Horseshoes and Stirrups: New Technology in the Early Middle Ages.

Updated: Thu, 02 Sep 2010 00:07:53 UTC | #509482

TimONeill's Avatar Comment 16 by TimONeill

Comment Removed by Author

Updated: Thu, 02 Sep 2010 00:20:52 UTC | #509483

TimONeill's Avatar Comment 17 by TimONeill

@bachfiend - I just tried to edit my last post because it appeared at the same time as yours. But RD.net won't let me. So ...

So Hannam seems to disagree with; "Probably because we don't know how Bradwardine died. He died in 1349, which is the year after the Black Death hit England, so it may have been because of the plague or it may not have been".

My understanding is that it is generally assumed that he died in the plague because of the date of his death. Given that he wasn't too old (59) and the mortality rate from the plague in that year, this is a reasonable assumption. Then again, Hannam may be aware of a source that makes the cause of his death clear that I don't know about.

Either way, Hannam doesn't just mention the plague, he attributes the end of the flowering of late Thirteenth and early Fourteenth Century to it.

I suppose my comment was prompted by Hannam spending so much space early in the book writing about technology

But he doesn't attribute that to "science" or (more correctly) natural philosophy. In fact, he himself makes the same point I do - in the pre-modern period, they had little to do with each other (apart from accidental developments, like Medieval experiments with the physics of light and optics leading to their invention of eye glasses). That discussion of technology was showing how during the Dark Ages when natural philosophy was all but forgotten the need for more efficient farming techniques drove developments in technology (which again fits with David Clark's idea). And this led to a phenomenal rise in agarian output to levels above what they had been in Roman times.

The subsequent prosperity and period of relative peace and expansion in Europe were the economic and social conditions for the Twelfth Century revival in learning, the rise of the universities and the flowering of Medieval natural philosophical speculation that forms the core of the book.

Thu, 02 Sep 2010 00:30:55 UTC | #509489

Distort's Avatar Comment 18 by Distort

Tim, On the first part I agree with u and the author and I say that. You read what I said wrong. Also, the monks preserved virtually nothing. They got Aristotle's work back after the empire conquered Toledo and gain access to Arabic versions and you are also being very disingenuous in regards to Bacon, Galileo, and others arrested for their views. You are purposely underrating WHY the church did what they did to them when the reasons are very clear.

Thu, 02 Sep 2010 02:37:33 UTC | #509514

TimONeill's Avatar Comment 19 by TimONeill

Also, the monks preserved virtually nothing. They got Aristotle's work back after the empire conquered Toledo and gain access to Arabic versions

The Archimedes Palimpsest you referred to was produced in the Byzantine Empire in the Twelfth Century. You tried to argue that this somehow proved some kind of wholesale destruction of ancient learning by "Christian monks". I noted that at the same time as this manuscript was being recycled, other monks in the Byzantine Empire were preserving ancient texts - some of which we only have today thanks to them. So your one example proves nothing more than the fact, as I said, that manuscripts often got recycled.

And I'm quite aware of where the western European monks got their Greek texts thanks. Where do you think those Arabic versions came from? Do you think the Muslim scholars got them when they fell from the sky? They got them via Syraic translations by Nestorian monks who in turn translated them from copies preserved by Byzantine scholars. So much for "Christian monks" destroying ancient knowledge. If you've read any ancient Greek or Roman text then you have a succession of Christian monks to thank.

you are also being very disingenuous in regards to Bacon, Galileo, and others arrested for their views

Wrong. I'm being accurate. If you have evidence that Bacon's house arrest had anything to do with his science, then produce it now. There are many scholars of his work who will be interested to see it. Somehow I'm guessing you'll produce nothing.

As for Galileo, I've explained why the science of the time was key to his condemantion. It seems you simply don't want to listen.

Thu, 02 Sep 2010 03:42:37 UTC | #509521

Distort's Avatar Comment 20 by Distort

No you are not at all. Everything that counters what you are saying you downplay. You are also strawman'ing the hell out of what I said. I never said there was a church conspiracy, I was stating that religion had nothing to do with the creation of science and in some instances, hindered it.

If monks everywhere were preserving Aristotle, then there would have been no need to acquire it from Toledo, they would have already had it. That kind of learning had been completely lost in the west.

The Archimedes Codex was written over to make a Bible. No big deal, this doesn't say anything about the downplaying of ancient knowledge (lol) for theology. After all, it is just a literal example. I never said Christian monks were going out and burning libraries, they just did not appreciate the knowledge of the ancient world as much as the classical pagans and did not preserve much of it. This led to them destroying these ideas by copying over them or not copying them down.

When is the last time someone got locked up for a scientific idea? His idea may have been science but he was locked up for theological reasons. It would not have been placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum if it was case, it would have just been disregarded.

these are points from earlier I somehow missed: Also, you earlier point about science and technology in earlier ages not being connected is plain nonesense. Engineering was one of the most developed sciences in ancient Greece and Rome.

Also, the Byzantine empire did go through a very very terrible dark age. It was a later result of the civil wars in the empire followed by the severe economic collapse, which lead to Diocletian becoming Emperor.

Thu, 02 Sep 2010 04:21:30 UTC | #509524

Distort's Avatar Comment 21 by Distort

Also, if you read the book I listed on the first response, you will see that the Greeks had REAL science in the exact sense that Galileo and Kepler did. If you don't want to get it, I can list some less expensive scholarly books.

Thu, 02 Sep 2010 04:38:15 UTC | #509526

Distort's Avatar Comment 22 by Distort

Civil Wars -> 40 emperors -> Great Depression -> Diocletian -> fascist system -> Constantine I -> Empire moves to Greece -> Christianity becomes state religion -> Justinian I closes ancient schools.

Greece was not hit as hard as the west, but it most definitely was effected.

Updated: Thu, 02 Sep 2010 04:46:58 UTC | #509527

Distort's Avatar Comment 23 by Distort

the science that you are talking about was simply not the result of Christianity, it was the result of men that were Chrisitans. Just as Greek science was not caused by paganism, but by men that were pagans.

I don't think you or the book disagree with this, but it almost seems like you were insinuating it.

Thu, 02 Sep 2010 04:50:28 UTC | #509529

TimONeill's Avatar Comment 24 by TimONeill

I never said there was a church conspiracy

Since I never claimed you did, I have no idea what you're talking about here.

If monks everywhere were preserving Aristotle, then there would have been no need to acquire it from Toledo, they would have already had it. That kind of learning had been completely lost in the west.

I also didn't say anything about "monks everywhere" doing any such thing. In fact, I was quite specific about monks in the Byzantine Empire doing so. They passed these texts to the Nestorians, who passed them to the Arabs who passed them back to the west. My point was that clearly these monks in the Byzantine Empire can't be accused of "destroying a great deal of ancient learning" on the basis of one palimpsest when, in the same period and for centuries before, we have plentiful evidence of them actually preserving it.

The Archimedes Codex was written over to make a Bible. No big deal, this doesn't say anything about the downplaying of ancient knowledge (lol) for theology

It wasn't a Bible, it was a liturgical text. And no, it doesn't support your point. Which is what I've already pointed out.

they just did not appreciate the knowledge of the ancient world as much as the classical pagans and did not preserve much of it

This is nonsense. They revered it and they preserved all that we have. As I said, if you've read any ancient text you can thank a Medieval monk for the privilage.

His idea may have been science but he was locked up for theological reasons.

If you are still struggling to argue that Bacon was locked up for an "idea that may have been science" now would be a good time to produce some evidence. I'm very familiar with this period and with the source material and the scholarship on Bacon, so you should realise that I recognise hand waving when I see it.

Engineering was one of the most developed sciences in ancient Greece and Rome.

Yes, and those great Medieval cathedrals didn't assemble themselves spontaneously either. But, with a couple of exceptions, natural philosophers in both the Ancient and Medieval periods had zero to do with engineering and considered that sort of thing to be the job of common artisans, not scholars.

Also, the Byzantine empire did go through a very very terrible dark age. It was a later result of the civil wars in the empire followed by the severe economic collapse, which lead to Diocletian becoming Emperor.

The Byzantine Period usually refers to the period after the reign of Justinian. It is certainly never used for the Third Century - you're out by about 300 years.

Also, if you read the book I listed on the first response, you will see that the Greeks had REAL science in the exact sense that Galileo and Kepler did.

I'm told that book claims, amongst other things, that the Roman engineer Hero invented motion pictures, the ancients used proper telescopes and that Hipparchus and Archimedes were heliocentrists who had achieved a complete Newtonian dynamics. It sounds like nonsense to me.

I don't think you or the book disagree with this, but it almost seems like you were insinuating it.

No I wasn't. And no, Hannam's book doesn't claim that either. Try this - read the book. It sounds as though you need to.

Thu, 02 Sep 2010 06:38:26 UTC | #509552

Basil the Bulgar-slayer's Avatar Comment 25 by Basil the Bulgar-slayer

Lucio Russo's 'The Forgotten Revolution' has been recommended in this conversation, and whilst it is a fairly competent survey of the work that has been done on ancient natural philosophy I think a lot of the stuff he comes up with needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. He has a tendency for bold exaggeration. That is also what Mott Greene concluded in his review in Nature and as far as i'm aware he is the only historian of science to have reviewed it.

The fundamental problem is that he reads way too much into his sources - even concluding that the Hellenistic Greeks came up with the inverse square law of gravitation - and when he can't find a text to backup his theory he speculates that it has been lost.

If you want a decent survey of the pre-modern development of science then David Lindberg's 'The beginnings of western science' will do the job.

Thu, 02 Sep 2010 08:10:38 UTC | #509595

TimONeill's Avatar Comment 26 by TimONeill

I think a lot of the stuff he comes up with needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. He has a tendency for bold exaggeration. That is also what Mott Greene concluded in his review in Nature and as far as i'm aware he is the only historian of science to have reviewed it.

I haven't bothered to read it precisely because of that "exaggeration" you mentioned. Others who have a good grasp of the history of science have made it pretty clear to me that Russo greatly overstates things, imagines evidence when none comes to hand and makes up some total nonsense (I've already mentioned his claim that Hipparchus and Archimedes were heliocentrists for example).

If you want a decent survey of the pre-modern development of science then David Lindberg's 'The beginnings of western science' will do the job.

Lindberg's book is excellent. As are the recent works by people like Ronald Numbers and Edward Grant. But what Hannam's book does is distil the scholarship in these works and make it more accessible to the general reader. That's why it's amusing to see people claiming what he says is "garbage". All he's doing is popularising the work of the last 60 years or so of some of best historians of early science around. People don't like it because that work doesn't fit with their outdated Nineteenth Century clich├ęs and general prejudices.

A book on the history of science based on solid scholarship that shakes people out of their prejudices is precisely what real rationalists should welcome.

Thu, 02 Sep 2010 08:30:46 UTC | #509609

Basil the Bulgar-slayer's Avatar Comment 27 by Basil the Bulgar-slayer

Comment 26 by TimONeill :I've already mentioned his claim that Hipparchus and Archimedes were heliocentrists for example.

It is an entertaining book because it reads so much of modernity into the sources and some of it is totally off the wall. I liked Russo's claim on page 218, that Artemidorus anticipated some of the major elements of Freud's psychoanalysis - including using similar language 'cosmic dreams' and 'hypnagogic images'. He says, quoting Musatti, ' regarding the dream of incest between mother and son, Artemidorus talks as if he knew of and agreed with Freud's ideas about the Oediups complex'........right.

Other crackers are page 376 where he says that Newton got the inverse square law from the neo-Pythagoreans and the bit where he argues that the ancients had proper telescopes. It's good in parts, but really eccentric.

Thu, 02 Sep 2010 08:55:37 UTC | #509622

TimONeill's Avatar Comment 28 by TimONeill

It's good in parts, but really eccentric.

"Really eccentric"? It sounds totally nuts. And it just shows how people's prejudices can warp their judgement on this subject - a book as kooky as Russo's gets recommended as "scholarly" and "sound" while something as sober and well-based as Hannam's get dismissed (by someone who hasn't even read it) as "garbage".

Rationalists beware.

Thu, 02 Sep 2010 11:01:43 UTC | #509686

Distort's Avatar Comment 29 by Distort

Comment 24 by TimONeill :

Since I never claimed you did, I have no idea what you're talking about here.

No, you only strongly inferred it and strawman'ed me since the beginning as saying it.

I also didn't say anything about "monks everywhere" doing any such thing. In fact, I was quite specific about monks in the Byzantine Empire doing so. They passed these texts to the Nestorians, who passed them to the Arabs who passed them back to the west. My point was that clearly these monks in the Byzantine Empire can't be accused of "destroying a great deal of ancient learning" on the basis of one palimpsest when, in the same period and for centuries before, we have plentiful evidence of them actually preserving it.

Then the point is worthless. It would be like saying that priests aren't molesting boys because you know one who isn't. If almost all of the ancient texts are lost and they only preserved a few (and I can list works that were lost if you want.), then they were responsible for a ton of learning being lost. Again, it would be like me saving 1 puppy out of a litter of 1000 and someone calling me a puppy saver.

The Archimedes Codex was written over to make a Bible. No big deal, this doesn't say anything about the downplaying of ancient knowledge (lol) for theology

It wasn't a Bible, it was a liturgical text. And no, it doesn't support your point. Which is what I've already pointed out.

Ummm, yes it does. You just badly don't want it to.

This is nonsense. They revered it and they preserved all that we have. As I said, if you've read any ancient text you can thank a Medieval monk for the privilage.

again, it is like me saving 1 in 1000 puppies and expecting a thank you. the overwhelming amount of knowledge was lost in early Christian Europe.

His idea may have been science but he was locked up for theological reasons.

Yes, his scientific ideas challenged their theological view of the universe. Hence, he got into a lot of shit.

If you are still struggling to argue that Bacon was locked up for an "idea that may have been science" now would be a good time to produce some evidence. I'm very familiar with this period and with the source material and the scholarship on Bacon, so you should realise that I recognise hand waving when I see it.

It is the best explanation. I shouldn't have to have a piece of paper signed by the pope agreeing with me. If you suggest a better alternative, I will be glad to hear it.

Yes, and those great Medieval cathedrals didn't assemble themselves spontaneously either. But, with a couple of exceptions, natural philosophers in both the Ancient and Medieval periods had zero to do with engineering and considered that sort of thing to be the job of common artisans, not scholars.

It took Europe a very long time to regain the ability to build works of architecture due to the amount of skilled craftsman and texts lost. I dont really care what they considered science. Engineering (which is bigger than you are giving credit for, they had a steam engine which was developed in Alexandria) is most definitely one regardless.

The Byzantine Period usually refers to the period after the reign of Justinian. It is certainly never used for the Third Century - you're out by about 300 years.

I know that, I was setting the stage of events which let to the sacks and the Dark Age that greatly effect the whole of the Empire.

I'm told that book claims, amongst other things, that the Roman engineer Hero invented motion pictures, the ancients used proper telescopes and that Hipparchus and Archimedes were heliocentrists who had achieved a complete Newtonian dynamics. It sounds like nonsense to me.

WOW. great way to measure of something is right or wrong. the guy slamming me for not reading the book just said this. wow.

I don't think you or the book disagree with this, but it almost seems like you were insinuating it.

No I wasn't. And no, Hannam's book doesn't claim that either. Try this - read the book. It sounds as though you need to.

umm yes you were.

Thu, 02 Sep 2010 12:19:51 UTC | #509740

Basil the Bulgar-slayer's Avatar Comment 30 by Basil the Bulgar-slayer

Comment 29 by GregGorey :

It took Europe a very long time to regain the ability to build works of architecture due to the amount of skilled craftsman and texts lost. I dont really care what they considered science. Engineering (which is bigger than you are giving credit for, they had a steam engine which was developed in Alexandria) is most definitely one regardless.

Well, again I think we have to be careful not to exaggerate. Hero's steam turbine is ingenious but it's essentially only a sphere full of water with a couple of nozzles drilled into it which spins when heated. It's purpose was as a toy or temple wonder. You could potentially have used it to power a simple rotary engine but it does not seem to have been used for any practical purpose; thus supporting Tim's point. No-one in antiquity followed up with at practical steam engine. This is because, aside from the note-worthy example of the Archimedian screw, the sciences were detached from the wider world of technology.

Thu, 02 Sep 2010 13:06:45 UTC | #509772