a man of misconceptions the life of an eccentric in an age of change

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A Man Of Misconceptions

Author : John Glassie
ISBN : 9781101597033
Genre : Science
File Size : 45. 39 MB
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A Scientific American Best Science Book of 2012 An Atlantic Wire Best Book of 2012 A New York Times Book Review “Editor's Choice” The “fascinating” (The New Yorker) story of Athanasius Kircher, the eccentric scholar-inventor who was either a great genius or a crackpot . . . or a bit of both. The interests of Athanasius Kircher, the legendary seventeenth-century priest-scientist, knew no bounds. From optics to music to magnetism to medicine, he offered up inventions and theories for everything, and they made him famous across Europe. His celebrated museum in Rome featured magic lanterns, speaking statues, the tail of a mermaid, and a brick from the Tower of Babel. Holy Roman Emperors were his patrons, popes were his friends, and in his spare time he collaborated with the Baroque master Bernini. But Kircher lived during an era of radical transformation, in which the old approach to knowledge—what he called the “art of knowing”— was giving way to the scientific method and modern thought. A Man of Misconceptions traces the rise, success, and eventual fall of this fascinating character as he attempted to come to terms with a changing world. With humor and insight, John Glassie returns Kircher to his rightful place as one of history’s most unforgettable figures.

Athanasius Kircher

Author : Paula Findlen
ISBN : 041594015X
Genre : Biography & Autobiography
File Size : 37. 90 MB
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First published in 2004. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.


Author : W. Bernard Carlson
ISBN : 9781400846559
Genre : Biography & Autobiography
File Size : 67. 67 MB
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Nikola Tesla was a major contributor to the electrical revolution that transformed daily life at the turn of the twentieth century. His inventions, patents, and theoretical work formed the basis of modern AC electricity, and contributed to the development of radio and television. Like his competitor Thomas Edison, Tesla was one of America's first celebrity scientists, enjoying the company of New York high society and dazzling the likes of Mark Twain with his electrical demonstrations. An astute self-promoter and gifted showman, he cultivated a public image of the eccentric genius. Even at the end of his life when he was living in poverty, Tesla still attracted reporters to his annual birthday interview, regaling them with claims that he had invented a particle-beam weapon capable of bringing down enemy aircraft. Plenty of biographies glamorize Tesla and his eccentricities, but until now none has carefully examined what, how, and why he invented. In this groundbreaking book, W. Bernard Carlson demystifies the legendary inventor, placing him within the cultural and technological context of his time, and focusing on his inventions themselves as well as the creation and maintenance of his celebrity. Drawing on original documents from Tesla's private and public life, Carlson shows how he was an "idealist" inventor who sought the perfect experimental realization of a great idea or principle, and who skillfully sold his inventions to the public through mythmaking and illusion. This major biography sheds new light on Tesla's visionary approach to invention and the business strategies behind his most important technological breakthroughs.

Egyptian Oedipus

Author : Daniel Stolzenberg
ISBN : 9780226924151
Genre : History
File Size : 62. 73 MB
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A contemporary of Descartes and Newton, Athanasius Kircher, S. J. (1601/2–80), was one of Europe’s most inventive and versatile scholars in the baroque era. He published more than thirty works in fields as diverse as astronomy, magnetism, cryptology, numerology, geology, and music. But Kircher is most famous—or infamous—for his quixotic attempt to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphs and reconstruct the ancient traditions they encoded. In 1655, after more than two decades of toil, Kircher published his solution to the hieroglyphs, Oedipus Aegyptiacus, a work that has been called “one of the most learned monstrosities of all times.” Here Daniel Stolzenberg presents a new interpretation of Kircher’s hieroglyphic studies, placing them in the context of seventeenth-century scholarship on paganism and Oriental languages. Situating Kircher in the social world of baroque Rome, with its scholars, artists, patrons, and censors, Stolzenberg shows how Kircher’s study of ancient paganism depended on the circulation of texts, artifacts, and people between Christian and Islamic civilizations. Along with other participants in the rise of Oriental studies, Kircher aimed to revolutionize the study of the past by mastering Near Eastern languages and recovering ancient manuscripts hidden away in the legendary libraries of Cairo and Damascus. The spectacular flaws of his scholarship have fostered an image of Kircher as an eccentric anachronism, a throwback to the Renaissance hermetic tradition. Stolzenberg argues against this view, showing how Kircher embodied essential tensions of a pivotal phase in European intellectual history, when pre-Enlightenment scholars pioneered modern empirical methods of studying the past while still working within traditional frameworks, such as biblical history and beliefs about magic and esoteric wisdom.


Author : George M. Church
ISBN : 9780465075706
Genre : Science
File Size : 74. 24 MB
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A genetics professor at Harvard Medical School explains why he supports engineering genomes to make existing organisms more useful and describes how synthetic biology can create new life forms and resurrect extinct ones. 25,000 first printing.

Athanasius Kircher

Author : Joscelyn Godwin
ISBN : 0500810222
Genre : Germany
File Size : 60. 79 MB
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Athanasius Kircher (1602 - 80) stand out as one of the last all-encompassing minds. For this true Renaissance man, the whole world was a glorious appearance of God waiting to be explored. Kircher was a Jesuit and an archeologist, a phenomenal linguist and an avid collector of scientific instruments. He deciphered archaic languages, experimented with alchemy and music therapy, optics and magnetism. Egyptian mystery wisdom, Greek, Cabbalistic and Christian philosophy met on common ground in his work. Kircher's sumptuous volumes were revered throughout Europe, and his gigantic oeuvre is represented here through striking engravings - most of them reprinted for the first time - together with annotations and an introduction to Kircher's life and work.

Lives In Ruins

Author : Marilyn Johnson
ISBN : 9780062127228
Genre : Social Science
File Size : 78. 14 MB
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The author of The Dead Beat and This Book is Overdue! turns her piercing eye and charming wit to the real-life avatars of Indiana Jones—the archaeologists who sort through the muck and mire of swamps, ancient landfills, volcanic islands, and other dirty places to reclaim history for us all. Pompeii, Machu Picchu, the Valley of the Kings, the Parthenon—the names of these legendary archaeological sites conjure up romance and mystery. The news is full of archaeology: treasures found (British king under parking lot) and treasures lost (looters, bulldozers, natural disaster, and war). Archaeological research tantalizes us with possibilities (are modern humans really part Neandertal?). Where are the archaeologists behind these stories? What kind of work do they actually do, and why does it matter? Marilyn Johnson’s Lives in Ruins is an absorbing and entertaining look at the lives of contemporary archaeologists as they sweat under the sun for clues to the puzzle of our past. Johnson digs and drinks alongside archaeologists, chases them through the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and even Machu Picchu, and excavates their lives. Her subjects share stories we rarely read in history books, about slaves and Ice Age hunters, ordinary soldiers of the American Revolution, children of the first century, Chinese woman warriors, sunken fleets, mummies. What drives these archaeologists is not the money (meager) or the jobs (scarce) or the working conditions (dangerous), but their passion for the stories that would otherwise be buried and lost.

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