Full Meridian of Glory

Author: Paul Murdin
Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media
ISBN: 9780387755342
Format: PDF, Kindle
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[the text below needs editing and we must be careful not to say things about Dan Brown's book that could get Springer in legal trouble] Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, was first published in 2003; its sales have reached 40 million worldwide. The book mixes a small spice of fact into a large dollop of fiction to create an entertaining novel of intrigue, adventure, romance, danger and conspiracy, which have been imaginatively worked together to cook up the successful bestseller. Most interest in the book’s origins has centred on the sensational religious aspects. Dan Brown has written: ‘All of the art, architecture, secret rituals, secret societies, all of that is historical fact.’ This gives an air of authenticity to the book. Brown has, however, made up the religious doctrines, or based them on questionable accounts by others. The locations of the actions of The Da Vinci Code are not, however, made up. The present book is the scientific story behind the scene of several of the book’s actions that take place on the axis of France that passes through Paris. The Paris Meridian is the name of this location. It is the line running north-south through the astronomical observatory in Paris. One of the original intentions behind the founding of the Paris Observatory was to determine and measure this line. The French government financed the Paris Academy of Sciences to do so in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. It employed both astronomers – people who study and measure the stars – and geodesists – people who study and measure the Earth. This book is about what they did and why. It is a true story behind Dan Brown’s fiction. This is the first English language presentation of this historical material. It is attractively written and it features the story of the community of scientists who created the Paris Meridian. They knew each other well – some were members of the same families, in one case of four generations. Like scientists everywhere they collaborated and formed alliances; they also split into warring factions and squabbled. They travelled to foreign countries, somehow transcending the national and political disputes, as scientists do now, their eyes fixed on ideas of accuracy, truth and objective, enduring values – save where the reception given to their own work is concerned, when some became blind to high ideals and descended into petty politics. To establish the Paris Meridian, the scientists endured hardship, survived danger and gloried in amazing adventures during a time of turmoil in Europe, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic War between France and Spain. Some were accused of witchcraft. Some of their associates lost their heads on the guillotine. Some died of disease. Some won honour and fame. One became the Head of State in France, albeit for no more than a few weeks. Some found dangerous love in foreign countries. One scientist killed in self defence when attacked by a jealous lover, another was himself killed by a jealous lover, a third brought back a woman to France and then jilted her, whereupon she joined a convent. The scientists worked on practical problems of interest to the government and to the people. They also worked on one of the important intellectual problems of the time, a problem of great interest to their fellow scientists all over the world, nothing less than the theory of universal gravitation. They succeeded in their intellectual work, while touching politics and the affairs of state. Their endeavours have left their marks on the landscape, in art and in literature.

New Heavens and a New Earth

Author: Jeremy Brown
Publisher: OUP USA
ISBN: 0199754799
Format: PDF
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Jeremy Brown offers the first major study of the Jewish reception of the Copernican revolution, examining four hundred years of Jewish writings on the Copernican model. Brown shows the ways in which Jews ignored, rejected, or accepted the Copernican model, and the theological and societal underpinnings of their choices.

Zero Degrees

Author: Charles W. J. Withers
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 0674088816
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Charles Withers explains how the choice of Greenwich to mark 0° longitude solved problems of global measurement that had engaged geographers, astronomers, and mariners since ancient times. This history is a testament to the power of maps, the challenges of global measurement, and the role of scientific authority in creating the modern world.

Thomas Jefferson and the Science of Republican Government

Author: Daniel Klinghard
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 1107157366
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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This biography of Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia, his only published book, challenges conventional wisdom by demonstrating its core political thought as well as the political aspirations behind its composition, publication and initial dissemination. Building upon a close reading of the book's contents, Jefferson's correspondence and the first comprehensive examination of both its composition and publication history, the authors argue that Jefferson intended his Notes to be read by a wide audience, especially in America, in order to help shape constitutional debates in the critical period of the 1780s. Jefferson, through his determined publication and distribution of his Notes even while serving as American ambassador in Paris, thus brought his own constitutional and political thought into the public sphere - and at times into conflict with the writings of John Adams and James Madison, stimulating a debate over the proper form of Republican constitutionalism that still reverberates in American political thought.

The Life and Science of L on Foucault

Author: William Tobin
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780521808552
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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Abundantly-illustrated biography of Léon Foucault, pioneer of science, inventor of pendulum that bears his name.

Secrets of the Universe

Author: Paul Murdin
Publisher:
ISBN: 9780500251553
Format: PDF, Mobi
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Renowned astronomer Murdin provides an ambitious and exciting overview of astronomy, conveying for newcomers and aficionados alike the most important discoveries of this science and introducing the many people who made them. Full-color illustrations throughout.

Moby Dick

Author: Herman Melville
Publisher: Dorset Press
ISBN: 9781566193573
Format: PDF, Mobi
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A classic of the sea, telling of the pursuit of Moby Dick, the white whale who defied capture.

Life on the Mississippi

Author: Mark Twain
Publisher:
ISBN:
Format: PDF, Kindle
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A memoir of the steamboat era on the Mississippi River before the American Civil War. The first half details a brief history of the river from its discovery by Hernando de Soto in 1541 and describes Twain's career as a Mississippi steamboat pilot, the fulfillment of a childhood dream. The second half of Life on the Mississippi tells of Twain's return, many years after, to travel the river from St. Louis to New Orleans. By then the competition from railroads had made steamboats passe, in spite of improvements in navigation and boat construction. Twain sees new, large cities on the river, and records his observations on greed, gullibility, tragedy, and bad architecture.