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Kepler's essay, On the Six-Cornered Snowflake, provides the first published evidence of the ideas of regular arrangements and close-packing which have proved fundamental to crystallography. In it, Kepler ponders on the problem of why snowflakes are hexagonal, two centuries before the first successful steps were taken towards its solution.
The purpose of this volume is to display the historical, literary, scientific, and philosophical treasures of Kepler's essay. The book includes the modernized text of the 1611 Latin edition, with an English translation by Colin Hardie on the opposite pages. The text is accompanied by an introduction giving details of the history of the work, and two essays; Professor B. J. Mason's discussion of the scientific meaning and validity of Kepler's arguments and their relation to the history of crystallography and of space filling, and L. L. Whyte's examination of Kepler's facultas formatrix in relation to the history of philosophical and scientific ideas on the genesis of forms.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Review from previous edition: "This exceedingly well produced little book is the first English translation of Johannes Kepler's (1571-1630) truly remarkable, although still little-known, essay 'De nive sexangula'. ... This fine English translation will no doubt greatly help to recall Kepler's
--H. Hoinkes, Journal of Glaciology
"This little known essay of Kepler poses (for perhaps the first time in the history of Western thought) the basic questions: 'Why do snowflakes have hexagonal symmetry?' ... The book contains the Latin text and an English translation of Kepler's essay, as well as a lucid article by B. J. Mason
on present views on the symmetry of ice crystals."
--E. R. Pounder, McGill University
"In the present edition the modernized Latin text is confronted with the first English translation ever made of this lively essay. Kepler's numerous allusions are explained in carefully prepared notes while the synopsis helps the reader to follow his thread of thought."
--C. J. Scriba, University of Hamberg
"This is a beautiful little book of great fascination to anyone interested in crystallography, history of science, the history of geometry - or snowflakes."
--Chemistry, November 1967
"This translation is intended to display the historical, literary, scientific, and philosophical value of Kepler's essay. It portrays an exceptional scientist who recognizes a problem, discusses several possible solutions, rejects them all, and leaves the solution of the problem to future
chemists. A glimpse into the thought processes of a man like Kepler, in an age of scientific awakening, should interest scientists, historians, and anyone who wonders why natural objects are the shape they are."
--Janet B. Van Doren, Journal of Chemical Education
"Kepler was a crucial figure in the struggle to establish an intellectual order in the world. The brilliance with which he converted Pythagorean preconceptions into the living thought of science, the prescience which identified the most significant problems, precisely because they are the most
beautiful problems - these qualities of Kepler's mind are all exemplified and revealed in the few pages of the 'Snowflake'. ... Colin Hardie's translation and the handsome book which makes it available to us puts us all in his debt."
--Cecil J. Schneer, University of New Hampshire
"Mr. L. L. Whyte and Professor B. J. Mason make clear in learned and pertinent essays that this was the first scientific examination in Europe of the regular shape of snowflakes. It was the first step towards the modern science of crystallography, and as such has some importance in the history
--Times Literary Supplement
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