For those in Southern California or planning to travel here, the Huntington Library in just started a new permanent exhibition on Nov. 1 showcasing the history of science. This is a wonderful addition to the library/museum and includes such works as 13th-century copy of Ptolemy’s Almagest, the only complete comprehensive treatise on astronomy, a 1566 second edition of Copernicus’ De revolutionibus, Robert Hooke’s Micrographia from 1665, and even Newton’s own copy of his book Opticks (2nd ed., 1717).
From the Huntington Library link:
“We’re calling this ‘Beautiful Science: Ideas that Changed the World,’ ” says Daniel Lewis, the Dibner Senior Curator of the History of Science and Technology. “We want people to think about the beauty of science in a historical context—the elegant breakthroughs, the remarkable discoveries, and the amazing people and stories behind them.”
I can’t argue with that. The cosmos that science is continually revealing to us is a place of wonder, beauty, amazement, and most wonderfully, mysterious comprehensibility. At the same time, the work of learning how the universe works is a very human endeavor filled with struggle, blind alleys, and occasional moments of triumph as some new insight is gained.
It is always fascinating for me to see the early works and consider how they worked out their ideas, building on the work that had gone before them and how it fits into the larger picture of what we are still learning. So, if you get a chance, be sure to check out this exhibit, as I know Mrs. Thinker and I will be doing soon.