Galileo's Telescope: A European Story

Massimo Bucciantini, Michele Camerota, and Franco Giudice, trans. from the Italian by Catherine Bolton. Harvard Univ., $35 (344p) ISBN 978-0-674-73691-7
Putting Galileo's celestial discoveries in the context of the world from 1609 to 1612 is an interesting concept, but the execution of this investigation never quite matches it. The authors, professors of the history of science at various Italian universities, follow the development of the telescope from the Netherlands to the city-states of Italy, Prague, England, and eventually China. Johannes Kepler, Tycho Brahe, and Nikolaus Copernicus are mentioned often, and Kepler's support of Galileo aided early excitement over the latter's discoveries of Jupiter's moons and craters on Luna. While these breakthroughs were approvingly discussed by the intelligentsia of the period, dissent arose—not on religious grounds, but over belief that the observations were due to "tricks of the lenses and not real phenomena." This attempt to paint the world surrounding Galileo's achievements is laced with interesting information. However, it is badly organized and replete with convoluted sentences, murky political background, and interruptive technical digressions on the minutiae of lens making. Avid students of the period may enjoy this book, but it's not for general readers. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 05/04/2015
Release date: 03/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 361 pages - 978-0-674-42544-6
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