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Shifting the Earth: The Mathematical Quest to Understand the Motion of the Universe

Wiley

Publication date: August 2011

ISBN: 9781118108321

Digital Book format: PDF (Adobe DRM)

Discover how mathematics and science have propelled historyFrom Ancient Greece to the Enlightenment and then on to modern times, Shifting the Earth: The Mathematical Quest to Understand the Motion of the Universe takes readers on a journey motivated by the desire to understand the universe and the motion of the heavens. The author presents a thought-provoking depiction of the sociopolitical environment in which some of the most prominent scientists in history lived and then provides a mathematical account of their contributions.

From Eudoxus to Einstein, this fascinating book describes how, beginning in ancient times, pioneers in the sciences and mathematics have dramatically changed our vision of who we are as well as our place in the universe. Readers will discover how Ptolemy's geocentric model evolved into Kepler's heliocentric model, with Copernicus as the critical intermediary. The author explains how one scientific breakthrough set the stage for the next one, and he also places the scientists and their discoveries within the context of history, including:

Archimedes, Apollonius, and the Punic Wars

Ptolemy and the rise of Christianity

Copernicus and the Renaissance

Kepler and the Counter-Reformation

Newton and the Enlightenment

Einstein and the detonation of the atom bomb

Each chapter presents the work of a single scientist or mathematician, building on the previous chapters to demonstrate the evolutionary process of discovery. Chapters begin with a narrative section and conclude with a mathematical presentation of one of the scientist's original works. Most of these mathematical presentations, including the section on Einstein's special relativity, are accessible using only basic mathematics; however, readers can skip the mathematical sections and still follow the evolution of science and mathematics.

Shifting the Earth is an excellent book for anyone interested in the history of mathematics and how the quest to understand the motion of the heavens has influenced the broader history of humankind.