by Steven WeinbergWeinberg covers the development of science, mainly the physical sciences, thru Newton. He brings a modern perspective.
I am delighted that Weinberg assumes that his readers actually care about some of the technical details which he includes in technical notes at the end with links. It would not occur to a professional historian to include such information.
Weinberg tells the story largely chronologically but he does not hesitate to draw connections to modern science.
I have now a better understanding of ancient Greek chronology than I had before — also the role, time and geography of Alexandria.
L 556: I find Weinberg’s portrayal of modern commentators on Aristotle notions of motion hilarious. Weinberg objects to the notion that bodies fell at a different rate in Aristotle’s time. I agree with Weinberg.
L 611: I had not know that Strato of Alexandria, or any of the Greeks, had noticed acceleration.
L 912: This is the first record I recall reading of the end of Greek science.
L 1986: Weinberg describes a European period of translation of the classics, mostly from Arabic. He does not say into which language; I suppose it was into Latin.
L 2295: Scanning the list of the 7 principles of Copernicus, increases my opinion of Copernicus.
L 2564: I like Weinberg’s segue into the anthropic principle; it gives it gravitas, especially in contrast to Kepler’s polyhedra.
L 2632: “… circular orbits had to be replaced by ellipses.” I have always been amazed that Kepler jumped to this correct conclusion with the sort of data he had. It would be impressive even had his observatory been fixed in space and not an observatory moving on another ellipse. It was a magnificent combination of guts, luck and genius.
L 2712: Weinberg’s description of a telescope is unusually clear.
L 3000: Weinberg ignores the problem of angular momentum of the rolling disks which causes them to move a bit slower. Galileo noticed that a disk rolled faster than a hoop which has for the same velocity, more angular energy per unit mass. I suspect that Galileo compensated somehow for these effects.
L 3217: I generally agree with Weinberg’s list of Descartes’ errors. I am glad that Weinberg gives Descartes great credit for his analytic geometry and optics. When I was studying optics in high school I stumbled across Descartes quantitative description of thick lenses, which was much easier to apply to the problem sets we were given in the physics class than the methods provided in class. Descartes had the rare genius of simplifying things.
L 3299: Weinberg recapitulates Descartes’ description of rainbow math so that I understand it better than I had before.
L 3339: In summary, Descartes did his best work not as a Cartesian.
L 3976: Weinberg cites many precursors of Newton’s ideas that I was unaware of. Newton organized them, recorded them, invented calculus to harness them, and presto all was explained.
Index into the Technical Notes.
Pointers to Technical Notes in this Kindle book are broken because they point to entries in a table of contents, rather than the contents. Here is a map from article number to content location.
1 4246 2 4270 3 4348 4 4405 5 4430 6 4465 7 4496 8 4513 9 4537 10 4579 11 4596 12 4678 13 4691 14 4751 15 4778 16 4806 17 4831 18 4858 19 4919 20 4935 21 4964 22 5047 23 5108 24 5154 25 5185 26 5233 27 5295 28 5327 29 5378 30 5441 31 5468 32 5492 33 5515 34 5532 35 5545I need the following chronology: Date of significant publications.
–530 Pythagoras -410 Socrates -370 Plato –300 Euclid -290 Aristarchus -220 Apollonius 60 Hero 150 Ptolmey 250 Diophantus 500 Boethius 1030 Glaber 1142 Thierry 1250 Aquinas 1377 Oresme 1510 Copernicus 1546 (born) Brahe 1597 Kepler 1620 Bacon 1630 Descartes 1623 1643 Galileo 1650 Fermat 1655 Huygens 1664 1690 NewtonThis is useful.