Measure for Measure: A Musical History of Science

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9780671787301: Measure for Measure: A Musical History of Science
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Scientific thinking is traced from Pythagorean origins to the present through the microscope, precision measuring devices, the chemical still, and the genetically engineered mouse, as well as the organ, the cello, and the electronic synthesizer

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About the Author:

THOMAS LEVENSON is a professor of science writing at MIT and the author of three previous books: "Einstein in Berlin, Measure for Measure, "and "Ice Time. "He is also the producer of ten documentaries for which he has won numerous awards.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A look at the history of ideas as a marriage of music and science. Levenson (Ice Time, not reviewed) chronicles the human quest for order in the world, from the idealism of Pythagoras to contemporary computer programs for musical composition and performance. Pythagoras is credited with the discovery of the harmonic series, the basis for the musical scale, which, writ large, suggested a music of the spheres--the eternal, unchanging perfection of the universe. And so for a millennium, during the Church's iron rule, the dominant music was Gregorian chant and ``science'' was considered ``revealed knowledge''--something more spiritual than material. But musical horizons were broadening; notation and polyphony and duration were invented, and instruments grew in sophistication. The measurement of time, the invention of clocks and other mechanical devices, laid the groundwork for the experimental science of the Renaissance. Levenson pairs developments in music and in musical instruments with the development of science and scientific instruments like the microscope and telescope. The music/science metaphor continues with parallel chapters of latter-day developments, concluding with such striking inventions as genetically engineered mice that, lacking their own immune systems, accept fetal human immune cells and are now used to study AIDS. He concludes with a history of synthesizers and computer-aided compositions such as those played by Yo Yo Ma on an electronic cello. Ultimately, his point is that art and science come together as acts of human creativity that satisfy aesthetic demands. In so doing, science strives for beauty while recognizing that its truth is ever evolving, substituting a truth for the truth. Levenson occasionally dwells too long on the details of instrument-making and could well have indicated other parallels to illustrate his theme--the history of painting and sculpture, for example. Still, his theme and variations are very well orchestrated and worth hearing. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780684804347: Measure for Measure: A Musical History of Science

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ISBN 10:  0684804344 ISBN 13:  9780684804347
Publisher: Touchstone, 1995
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9780192880499: Measure for Measure: A Musical History of Science

Oxford..., 1997
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