Recuperating Medieval Science

Submitted by ctcamp on Wed, 03/26/2014 - 10:25am
Portrait of Robert Grosseteste from BL Royal MS 6.E.v, fol. 1r

It's easy to pidgeonhole medieval "science" as a mishmash of superstition and ignorance. (Alchemy? Astrology? Ptolematic cosmos?) But a team of physicists, Latinists, and philosophers at the University of Durham are suggesting otherwise. They've taken the scientific writings of Robert Grosseteste -- thirteenth-century English bishop and mathematical luminary -- and analyzed them through both medieval and contemporary understandings of science, and found that Grossetesete's methods and conclusions aren't that different from contemporary science's understanding of the universe.

How Chaucer Told Time

Submitted by ctcamp on Thu, 10/24/2013 - 12:33pm

How did medieval individuals tell time before the atomic clock, Greenwich Mean, or even dependable mechanical clocks? There were lots of ways, but one of the most scientifically sophisticated was the astrolabe, a hand-held adjustable device for determining time and meteorological details based on the positions of the stars. It was an important tool in the astrologer's kit (remember that astrology was a branch of science in medieval Europe), and Geoffrey Chaucer translated the first English treatise on how to use an astrolabe for his young son, Lewis.