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In a lively investigation into the boundaries between popular culture and early-modern science, Sara Schechner presents a case study that challenges the view that rationalism was at odds with popular belief in the development of scientific theories. Schechner Genuth delineates the evolution of people's understanding of comets, showing that until the seventeenth century, all members of society dreaded comets as heaven-sent portents of plague, flood, civil disorder, and other calamities. Although these beliefs became spurned as "vulgar superstitions" by the elite before the end of the century, she shows that they were nonetheless absorbed into the science of Newton and Halley, contributing to their theories in subtle yet profound ways.
Schechner weaves together many strands of thought: views of comets as signs and causes of social and physical changes; vigilance toward monsters and prodigies as indicators of God's will; Christian eschatology; scientific interpretations of Scripture; astrological prognostication and political propaganda; and celestial mechanics and astrophysics. This exploration of the interplay between high and low beliefs about nature leads to the conclusion that popular and long-held views of comets as divine signs were not overturned by astronomical discoveries. Indeed, they became part of the foundation on which modern cosmology was built.
About the Author: Sara J. Schechner is a scholar-in-residence at the American Institute of Physics and a research fellow at the National Museum of American History. After many years as the Curator of the History of Astronomy Collection at the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum in Chicago, she is now the principal of Gnomon Research, a firm specializing in science exhibits, educational outreach, and collections-based research.
Title: Comets, Popular Culture, and the Birth of ...
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication Date: 1999
Book Condition: Used: Good
Book Description Princeton University Press. Paperback. Book Condition: Good. Book shows minor use. Cover and Binding have minimal wear and the pages have only minimal creases. Bookseller Inventory # G0691009252I3N00
Book Description Princeton University Press. Paperback. Book Condition: Good. Book has some visible wear on the binding, cover, pages. Bookseller Inventory # G0691009252I3N00
Book Description Princeton University Press. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: Very Good. 0691009252 Crisp, clean, unread book with some shelfwear - NICE. Bookseller Inventory # Z0691009252Z2
Book Description Princetion University Press, Princeton, N.J., 1997. Book Condition: Very Good+. Very Good+ paperback. Normal shelfwear to the exterior with some bumping and rounding to the panels. Pages, text, and b&w images are clean and bright. 365 pp. Bookseller Inventory # 2026273
Book Description Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, U.S.A., 1999. Soft cover. Book Condition: Very Good. "A lively investigation into the boundaries between popular culture and early-modern science". First paperback printing stated. Cover has light rubs, bumped corners and slightly lifted front. Pencil erasure on first page along with darker dust spot (1" x 1.5") otherwise all is clean and tight. Bookseller Inventory # 9945464
Book Description Princeton University, Princeton NJ 1999., 1999. 1st paperback edition. 8vo. xvi + 365pp. B/w. illustrations. Paperback, very slightly rubbed to corners, covers slightly warped. ISBN 0691009252 US$12. Bookseller Inventory # 139581
Book Description Princeton Univ Press, 1999. Trade Paperback. Book Condition: Good Plus. G++. A tight, bright copy of the book with unobtrusive markings in the margins of maybe 50 pages. Great reference copy. Bookseller Inventory # 010684
Book Description Princeton University Press. 1997., 1997. ISBN 0-691-0925-2. Trade Paperback. Third Printing. Near Fine condition. Tight, bright, attractive copy with no markings to the book. Copy Two. Bookseller Inventory # 125058
Book Description Princeton University Press. 1997., 1997. ISBN 0-691-0925-2. Trade Paperback. Third Printing. Near Fine condition. Tight, bright, attractive copy with no markings to the book. Copy Three. Bookseller Inventory # 125059
Book Description Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 23MA3O009T2X