Wednesday’s Book Review: “Theories of the World: From Antiquity to the Copernican Revolution”


Theories of the WordTheories of the World: From Antiquity to the Copernican Revolution. By Michael J. Crowe. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2001.

This is a classic textbook that does not look like a textbook. It presents the evolution of cosmology in western thought from the ancients to the onset of the scientific revolution of the sixteenth century. It is very rational in its presentation, progressing chronologically from the Greek and other ancient ideas about the universe through Ptolemy, Copernicus, Tycho, and Kepler to Galileo and the modern structure of cosmology.

It explains all of this information, complete with equations, effectively. It includes discussion questions for students. While there are no footnotes, there is a select bibliography, illustrations, experiments, and figures.

I found this the most readily understandable of all discussions of how cosmological ideas have evolved. It has the advantage of being equally usable in both introductory history of science and in astronomy classes.

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