Galileo's Pendulum

Galileo's Pendulum

by Roger G. Newton
     
 

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The principle of the pendulum's swing marks a simple yet fundamental system in nature, one that ties the rhythm of time to the very existence of matter in the universe. Newton sets the stage for Galileo's discovery with a look at biorhythms in living organisms and at early calendars and clocks--contrivances of nature and culture that, however adequate in their time,… See more details below

Overview

The principle of the pendulum's swing marks a simple yet fundamental system in nature, one that ties the rhythm of time to the very existence of matter in the universe. Newton sets the stage for Galileo's discovery with a look at biorhythms in living organisms and at early calendars and clocks--contrivances of nature and culture that, however adequate in their time, did not meet the precise requirements of seventeenth-century science and navigation.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist - Gilbert Taylor
The range of things that measure time, from living creatures to atomic clocks, brackets Newton's intriguing narrative of time's connections, in the middle of which stands Galileo's famous discovery about pendulums...Science buffs will delight in the links Newton makes in this readable tour of how humanity marks time.
Financial Times
[A] short, clear and fascinating book about time, our relationship to it and our growing ability to measure it...It takes in along the way Newton, Faraday, Einstein, the one-handed clock of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence and John Harrison's entry for the Longitude Prize.
Key Reporter - Germaine Cornelissen
This delightful short book addresses the problem of time measurement, viewed in its different aspects through history. It is centered on the keen observation made anecdotally in the cathedral of Pisa by Galileo Galilei, when he was only 17, that the time it took the hanging chandelier to complete one oscillation was independent of how far it was swinging...The far-reaching and pervading properties of the harmonic oscillator are presented clearly and concisely as a crucial building block for our understanding of nature in this very interesting and engaging book.
Publishers Weekly
Newton (What Makes Nature Tick) explains the premise of his slim volume in a single sentence in the introduction: "This book is about the rhythm of time, how that rhythm was finally regulated by Galileo's pendulum, the impact the oscillations of the pendulum had on our perception of that rhythm, and how these oscillations were later found to manifest themselves in many other natural phenomena." The book's eight chapters touch on a wealth of topics: circadian rhythms in living organisms; the conceptualization and design of calendars; the construction of clocks, from sundials and water clocks to those powered by pendula and cesium; and the development of physics from Isaac Newton to modern quantum electrodynamics. Indeed, the array is too broad for the disparate elements to come together and form a coherent whole. Additionally, the range of material here is unlikely to be fully satisfying to most readers; the basic history of science will be accessible to the nonspecialist but not compelling for the scientist science buff, while the highly technical mathematical sections will certainly cut off the general reader. Anyone wanting to understand how humans first defined time and how it became systematically measured might want to turn to the relatively recent Einstein's Clocks and PoincarE's Maps by Peter Galison. 34 photos and illus. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674018488
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
10/01/2005
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
0.38(w) x 5.00(h) x 8.00(d)

Meet the Author

Roger G. Newton is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Physics at Indiana University.

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