Customer Reviews for

The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World

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  • Posted January 9, 2012

    Well worth the read

    At Newton's funeral dukes and lords bore his coffin to its final resting place in England's national cathedral with honors and distinctions literally above that of princes. The fate of Newton's nemesis, Leibniz, not much less of a towering intellectual figure of the 17th/18th centuries, was an unmarked grave and, until recently, relative obscurity. Although Edward Dolnick's book, The Clockwork Universe, is concerned primarily with the theological and philosophical underpinnings of the dawn of modern science, there is enough detail in the book about the times to raise the question - Why England? The answer in part, according to Dolnick, lies with the founding of the Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge and, in part, with contrasting theological views of England and the continent. Neither Newton nor Leibniz were born to nobility or great ease. They both succeeded on the strength of their intellects. But while Leibniz was never little more than an intellectual court jester dependent on the whim of the continental European aristocracy, we find Newton comfortably enough ensconced in a university position at an early age with enough resources to support a ample experimental laboratory and enough leisure time to ponder and publish on the deepest secrets of the universe. Dolnick has provided a very readable, thoroughly research and well-documented (more than 25% of the text is devoted to notes and references) history of the intellectual development of calculus and the physics (at least in Newton's case) that sometimes preceded (e.g. Galileo) and sometimes followed close behind. For some reason the author chose to break the text into 53 chapters (averaging less than 6 pages per chapter) which tends to break the flow of the arguments unnecessarily at times. A little more technical detail on the fundamentals of calculus and a little more on the temper of the times in England could have fit nicely into the white space left by so many chapter breaks. Richard R. Pardi Environmental Science William Paterson University

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A real page turner for a non-fiction book...

    Well written, very interesting, insightful, and I like the relatively short chapters that were quick to introduce an idea, get to the point, and move onto the next chapter, the next idea. It was fascinating to be introduced to Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, the great rivel with Newton in terms of calculus and its introduction. It was also fascinating to learn that it wasn't just religious leaders that were not fans of science, but other intellectuals of the day, like Jonathan Swift. Well worth the time and money.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 20, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Hang on...

    Read this and you will be amazed..If you are not a math person your mouth will be shut after all the facts you will learn from these men and the "Age of Genius"....Good writing and excellent research that was done by Dolnick...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 20, 2011

    Makes a dry subject as engaging as a novel

    When I try to tell people that this is a book about the English Royal Society and Newton, their eyes glaze over. But Dolnick makes the math and science understandable (dare I say exciting?) and the characters fascinating. But more, I found the descriptions of England before and during that time to be outrageous--there were times when I gasped at the filth and depraved understanding of nature and society that existed at that time. I constantly bother my family and friends with some arcane factoid gleaned from the treasure trove presented in this well researched and readable book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2013

    Good account.

    Very good account of the history of the royal society and Newton's involvement with the people in it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2013

    Very good read

    This book ties in perfectly between history, religion, and science.

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  • Posted April 3, 2012

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  • Posted February 15, 2012

    GREAT READ!!

    very informative, very fun. electromagnetism (geo) history and how we in currently interpret the earths magnetic field.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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