a man of misconceptions the life of an eccentric in an age of change

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A Man Of Misconceptions

Author : John Glassie
ISBN : 9781101597033
Genre : Biography & Autobiography
File Size : 35. 14 MB
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A Scientific American Best Science Book of 2012 An Atlantic Wire Best Book of 2012 A New York Times Book Review “Editor's Choice” The “fascinating” (The New Yorker) story of Athanasius Kircher, the eccentric scholar-inventor who was either a great genius or a crackpot . . . or a bit of both. The interests of Athanasius Kircher, the legendary seventeenth-century priest-scientist, knew no bounds. From optics to music to magnetism to medicine, he offered up inventions and theories for everything, and they made him famous across Europe. His celebrated museum in Rome featured magic lanterns, speaking statues, the tail of a mermaid, and a brick from the Tower of Babel. Holy Roman Emperors were his patrons, popes were his friends, and in his spare time he collaborated with the Baroque master Bernini. But Kircher lived during an era of radical transformation, in which the old approach to knowledge—what he called the “art of knowing”— was giving way to the scientific method and modern thought. A Man of Misconceptions traces the rise, success, and eventual fall of this fascinating character as he attempted to come to terms with a changing world. With humor and insight, John Glassie returns Kircher to his rightful place as one of history’s most unforgettable figures.

Egyptian Oedipus

Author : Daniel Stolzenberg
ISBN : 9780226924144
Genre : History
File Size : 43. 86 MB
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A contemporary of Descartes and Newton, Athanasius Kircher, S. J. (1601/2–80), was one of Europe’s most inventive and versatile scholars in the baroque era. He published more than thirty works in fields as diverse as astronomy, magnetism, cryptology, numerology, geology, and music. But Kircher is most famous—or infamous—for his quixotic attempt to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphs and reconstruct the ancient traditions they encoded. In 1655, after more than two decades of toil, Kircher published his solution to the hieroglyphs, Oedipus Aegyptiacus, a work that has been called “one of the most learned monstrosities of all times.” Here Daniel Stolzenberg presents a new interpretation of Kircher’s hieroglyphic studies, placing them in the context of seventeenth-century scholarship on paganism and Oriental languages. Situating Kircher in the social world of baroque Rome, with its scholars, artists, patrons, and censors, Stolzenberg shows how Kircher’s study of ancient paganism depended on the circulation of texts, artifacts, and people between Christian and Islamic civilizations. Along with other participants in the rise of Oriental studies, Kircher aimed to revolutionize the study of the past by mastering Near Eastern languages and recovering ancient manuscripts hidden away in the legendary libraries of Cairo and Damascus. The spectacular flaws of his scholarship have fostered an image of Kircher as an eccentric anachronism, a throwback to the Renaissance hermetic tradition. Stolzenberg argues against this view, showing how Kircher embodied essential tensions of a pivotal phase in European intellectual history, when pre-Enlightenment scholars pioneered modern empirical methods of studying the past while still working within traditional frameworks, such as biblical history and beliefs about magic and esoteric wisdom.

Athanasius Kircher

Author : Paula Findlen
ISBN : 041594015X
Genre : Biography & Autobiography
File Size : 88. 49 MB
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First published in 2004. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

Regenesis

Author : George McDonald Church
ISBN : 9780465033294
Genre : Nature
File Size : 36. 91 MB
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Imagine a future in which human beings have become immune to all viruses, in which bacteria can custom-produce everyday items, like a drinking cup, or generate enough electricity to end oil dependency. Building a house would entail no more work than planting a seed in the ground. These scenarios may seem far-fetched, but pioneering geneticist George Church and science writer Ed Regis show that synthetic biology is bringing us ever closer to making such visions a reality. In Regenesis, Church and Regis explorethe possibilities--and perils--of the emerging field of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology, in which living organisms are selectively altered by modifying substantial portions of their genomes, allows for the creation of entirely new species of organisms. Until now, nature has been the exclusive arbiter of life, death, and evolution; with synthetic biology, we now have the potential to write our own biological future. Indeed, as Church and Regis show, it even enables us to revisit crucial points in the evolution of life and, through synthetic biological techniques, choose different paths from those nature originally took. Such exploits will involve far more than just microbial tinkering. Full-blown genomic engineering will make possible incredible feats, from resurrecting woolly mammoths and other extinct organisms to creating mirror life forms with a molecular structure the opposite of our own. These technologies--far from the out-of-control nightmare depicted in science fiction--have the power to improve human and animal health, increase our intelligence, enhance our memory, and even extend our life span. A breathtaking look at the potential of this world-changing technology, Regenesis is nothing less than a guide to the future of life.

Giordano Bruno

Author : Ingrid D. Rowland
ISBN : 9780226730240
Genre : Biography & Autobiography
File Size : 28. 52 MB
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Giordano Bruno (1548–1600) is one of the great figures of early modern Europe, and one of the least understood. Ingrid D. Rowland’s biography establishes him once and for all as a peer of Erasmus, Shakespeare, and Galileo—a thinker whose vision of the world prefigures ours. Writing with great verve and erudition, Rowland traces Bruno’s wanderings through a sixteenth-century Europe where every certainty of religion and philosophy has been called into question, and reveals how he valiantly defended his ideas to the very end, when he was burned at the stake as a heretic on Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori. “A loving and thoughtful account of [Bruno’s] life and thought, satires and sonnets, dialogues and lesson plans, vagabond days and star-spangled nights. . . . Ingrid D. Rowland has her reasons for preferring Bruno to Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, even Galileo and Leonardo, and they’re good ones.”—John Leonard, Harper’s “Whatever else Bruno was, he was wild-minded and extreme, and Rowland communicates this, together with a sense of the excitement that his ideas gave him. . . . It’s that feeling for the explosiveness of the period, and [Rowland’s] admiration of Bruno for participating in it—indeed, dying for it—that is the central and most cherishable quality of the biography.”—Joan Acocella, New Yorker “Rowland tells this great story in moving, vivid prose, concentrating as much on Bruno’s thought as on his life. . . . His restless mind, as she makes clear, not only explored but transformed the heavens.”—Anthony Grafton, New York Review of Books “[Bruno] seems to have been an unclassifiable mixture of foul-mouthed Neapolitan mountebank, loquacious poet, religious reformer, scholastic philosopher, and slightly wacky astronomer.”—Anthony Gottlieb, New York Times Book Review “A marvelous feat of scholarship. . . . This is intellectual biography at its best.”—Peter N. Miller, New Republic “An excellent starting point for anyone who wants to rediscover the historical figure concealed beneath the cowl on Campo de’ Fiori.”—Paula Findlen, Nation

Tesla

Author : W. Bernard Carlson
ISBN : 9781400846559
Genre : Biography & Autobiography
File Size : 85. 49 MB
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Nikola Tesla was a major contributor to the electrical revolution that transformed daily life at the turn of the twentieth century. His inventions, patents, and theoretical work formed the basis of modern AC electricity, and contributed to the development of radio and television. Like his competitor Thomas Edison, Tesla was one of America's first celebrity scientists, enjoying the company of New York high society and dazzling the likes of Mark Twain with his electrical demonstrations. An astute self-promoter and gifted showman, he cultivated a public image of the eccentric genius. Even at the end of his life when he was living in poverty, Tesla still attracted reporters to his annual birthday interview, regaling them with claims that he had invented a particle-beam weapon capable of bringing down enemy aircraft. Plenty of biographies glamorize Tesla and his eccentricities, but until now none has carefully examined what, how, and why he invented. In this groundbreaking book, W. Bernard Carlson demystifies the legendary inventor, placing him within the cultural and technological context of his time, and focusing on his inventions themselves as well as the creation and maintenance of his celebrity. Drawing on original documents from Tesla's private and public life, Carlson shows how he was an "idealist" inventor who sought the perfect experimental realization of a great idea or principle, and who skillfully sold his inventions to the public through mythmaking and illusion. This major biography sheds new light on Tesla's visionary approach to invention and the business strategies behind his most important technological breakthroughs.

State Of Fear

Author : Michael Crichton
ISBN : 006175272X
Genre : Fiction
File Size : 28. 86 MB
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New York Times bestselling author Michael Crichton delivers another action-packed techo-thriller in State of Fear. When a group of eco-terrorists engage in a global conspiracy to generate weather-related natural disasters, its up to environmental lawyer Peter Evans and his team to uncover the subterfuge. From Tokyo to Los Angeles, from Antarctica to the Solomon Islands, Michael Crichton mixes cutting edge science and action-packed adventure, leading readers on an edge-of-your-seat ride while offering up a thought-provoking commentary on the issue of global warming. A deftly-crafted novel, in true Crichton style, State of Fear is an exciting, stunning tale that not only entertains and educates, but will make you think.

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