2015-09-11 Vic: An Ordered Universe Lecture

Date: Friday 11 September, 2.14 - 3.45 pm
Theme: An Ordered Universe: Working with Medieval Scholars on 13th century science texts - a scientist's tale
Speaker: Prof. Tom McLeish FRS
Venue: South lecture Theatre (Room 224), Old Arts Building (Building 149). Melbourne University
Contact: Stephen Ames
Tom McLeish presents on the Ordered Universe Project - an interdisciplinary project uniting physicists, theologians and medieval historians in investigating the cosmology of Robert Grosseteste (c.1175–1253), bishop of Lincoln, from both theological and scientific perspectives.
The Ordered Universe Project has been written up in both historical and scientific journals, including Nature . This talk will interest a broad range of people from astronomers and physicists to philosophers of science and historians. 
This talk will be of interest to a broad range of people from astronomers and physicists to philosophers of science and historians.

About this talk:

For the English polymath, Robert Grosseteste, light was the fundamental first form that gave dimensionality and stability to the material world. In a dozen scientific treatises written in the early 13th Century, he postulated a physics of light, colour and the rainbow.  In his De luce (on light) he extends it to the origin of the Universe in what has been referred to as the ‘Medieval Big Bang’. His arguments are so taut that they can be translated into mathematics - our resulting numerical simulations show that Grosseteste’s model does actually work. He also described the method for developing a universal principle from repeated observations under controlled conditions and argued that the explanation needing fewer suppositions and premises was the best.  In his theory of colour, we have found through close examination of the manuscript evidence for his De colore (on colour) and his De iride (on the rainbow) and a mathematical analysis of their content, that he presents the first three-dimensional theory of perceptual colour space.

In this talk, I introduce Robert Grossteste (ca 1170 -1253), the scientist, teacher, theologian and bishop and describe how a unique collaborative research approach has revealed new insights into his thought, particularly on light. An interdisciplinary team of historians, scientists, linguists and philosophers has developed techniques of joint reading of the medieval texts that have shown them to be logically consistent and founded on mathematically based models. We reflect on how a study of this extraordinary medieval science can help throw fresh light on the history of scientific thought, and bridge the current perception gap between the study of science and humanities.

Download the talk blurb and references

For more information on the Ordered Universe Project, visit the website.

Contact Stephen for further information.



Return to the Tom McLeish events page




Click here to join ISCAST




Look us up on Facebook, Twitter, and tune in to our Podcast.


ISCAST Fellows

Click here to view a list of ISCAST Fellows and their profiles.