In the Light of Science: Our Ancient Quest for Knowledge and the Measure of Modern Physics

Demetris Nicolaides. Prometheus Books, $19 trade paper (250p) ISBN 978-1-61592-225-3
Bloomfield College physics professor Nicolaides knits together history, religion, science, and philosophy in this casual exploration of ancient science, which compares the ideas of Greek philosophers and modern physics. His history sweeps from 200,000 years ago—an “era of pure survival”—through the development of prehistoric art and religion to the growth of cities and civilization in the Fertile Crescent. Expanding leisure allowed the creation of writing, commerce, and, Nicolaides says, for the Greeks, the scientific method. Well-traveled and familiar with various religions, the Greeks, beginning with the pre-Socratics, regarded “mythological” explanations for natural events as illogical. This “scientific outlook” presaged the beginnings of science around 2600 years ago. The rest of the book compares early Greek notions of nature to concepts in modern physics, such as atomic theory, quantum mechanics, relativity, the unified field theory, and the Higgs boson. Throughout, Nicolaides emphasizes the idea that religion should be seen an intermediate step along an evolutionary path to a truly rational world. Readers looking for an informal introduction to the early history of science and its philosophical links to modern physics will find an accessible introduction here. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/08/2014
Release date: 12/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
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