The Watershed: A Biography of Johannes Kepler (Science Study Series)

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9780819143396: The Watershed: A Biography of Johannes Kepler (Science Study Series)

Arthur Kooestler was a true 20th century man. At various periods in his life he was a refugee, communist, Zionist and democratic-socialist. He was a true cosmopolitan, in the positive sense, and also a student of the history of science. The Watershed is a hymn to a forgotten hero of science - the astronomer J. Kepler who lived in the latter part of the 16th and early part of the 17th centuries. Koestler projects him as a true genius, the father of modern cosmology, who laid the foundation for modern astronomy and who paved the way for Newtonian physics but never realized the importance of his three laws. Kepler was caught between two worlds: the medieval theological world based on Aristotelian physics and modern science based on observation and calculation. If you like he was caught between his heart and his mind. This is readily seen in his works which range from the mystic to the scientific. Keplers three laws were: 1.the planets do not orbit in circles but in ellipses. 2.the speed of the planets vary during their orbit. 3.there is an exact correlation between a planets' period of revolution around the sun and it's distance from the sun: the squares of the periods of revolution of any two planets are as the cubes of their mean distance from the sun. In fact, Kepler had discovered gravity but didn't realize it. This great mind couln't make the the final jump into modernity. This book is a really fine portrayal of Kepler as a great thinker, a man of his times and as Everyman with the same personal problems we all experience. I strongly reccomend this forgotten work to anybody interested in the history of science.

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Koestler, Arthur
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