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Astronomy has often been called the oldest science, and some ancient Greek authors acknowledged a debt to Babylonian predecessors. Many of the earliest Greek philosophers are credited with astronomical observations, predictions, explanations, and discoveries. Yet, throughout much of Greco-Roman antiquity – and later – astronomy was regarded as a branch of mathematics, along with arithmetic, geometry, and harmonics. This view of astronomy – as a branch of mathematics – raises questions about what constituted astronomy, as well as its relationship to philosophy.
One of the hallmarks of Herodotus’ Histories (fifth century BCE) is the evidence that he offers of first-hand accounts from people living in various places, with different customs and points of view. However, regarding an explanation of the seasonal flooding of the river Nile, he complained that he could get no information from Egyptian priests, or ordinary Egyptians.
This book provides a comprehensive overview of the key themes in Greek and Roman science, medicine, mathematics and technology. A distinguished team of specialists engage with topics including the role of observation and experiment, Presocratic natural philosophy, ancient creationism, and the special style of ancient Greek mathematical texts, while several chapters confront key questions in the philosophy of science such as the relationship between evidence and explanation. The volume will spark renewed discussion about the character of 'ancient' versus 'modern' science, and will broaden readers' understanding of the rich traditions of ancient Greco-Roman natural philosophy, science, medicine and mathematics.
This volume celebrates the seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Whipple Museum of the History of Science, through the gift of the collection of Robert Stewart Whipple to the University of Cambridge. This is the second Festschrift to celebrate a major anniversary of the Whipple Museum, following the first marking its sixtieth.1 The founding of the Museum pre-dates the establishment of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science (HPS), one of the leading centres for science studies in the world. The Museum is now at the heart of the Department, and has a central role in teaching, training, research, and publication, as well as outreach. Together, the Whipple and HPS are internationally recognised as an exemplary centre for research on the material culture of science. The pre-eminence of the collection and the widely acknowledged leadership of the Whipple provide a unique environment for the study of the substance of science. The essays contained in this volume showcase recent research fuelled by the Museum’s rich and varied holdings.
In this book the diverse objects of the Whipple Museum of the History of Science's internationally renowned collection are brought into sharp relief by a number of highly regarded historians of science in fourteen essays. Each chapter focuses on a specific instrument or group of objects, ranging from an English medieval astrolabe to a modern agricultural 'seed source indicator' to a curious collection of plaster chicken heads. The contributors employ a range of historiographical and methodological approaches to demonstrate the various ways in which the material culture of science can be researched and understood. The essays show how the study of scientific objects - including instruments and models - offers a window into cultures of scientific practice not afforded by textual sources alone. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.