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Publishers WeeklyRovelli (Quantum Gravity), a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Marseille, presents the scientific work and life of Anaximander, whom he ranks as "one of the intellectual giants of the ages." Born in the Greek city of Miletus in 610 B.C.E., Anaximander investigated the nature of the physical universe, treating physical processes, such as the hydrological cycle and thunder, as separate from religion and the intervention of the gods, and recognizing that the earth floats in space. In Rovelli's view, Anixmander was unique in questioning accepted hypotheses and results, such as the idea that the earth needed support to keep from falling. Rovelli sees a connection between the independence of mind that allowed Anixmander to pursue scientific investigation and the political freedom characteristic of the Ionian states that allowed discussion among equals. This fostered the search for truth through successive approximation and error, versus the "top down" modes of thought imposed in imperial states. This welcome addition to the popular science bookshelf, winner of the Prix du Livre Haute Maurienne de l'Astronomie, highlights the quality of thought which has shaped man's institutions so profoundly over the millennia.
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