Book review: The men who bring out humanity from the dark ages

“The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the birth of the modern world” by Edward Dolnick

There was a time when London was a filthy town, a smelly feces-ridden place filled with people who thought the Great Fire of 1666 was God’s wrath. It was a time when the majority of the population in Europe were dying fast due to the Plague, when medicine was still experimental and even worsening the conditions, when life expectancy was ridiculously low. It was a time when freaky autopsies on rabbits, dogs and even dead fetuses were conducted, while prosecuting and torturing criminals were the highly anticipated public attractions. Curiosity was a sin, and proof-testing God’s creation was almost considered as an insult to our Creator.

In the middle of this chaos exist a group of men who think differently. Who think that God is a mathematician, and the universe operates in precise mathematical codes and moves like a clockwork. These men conducted experiments, made many breakthroughs in human knowledge, and challenged the bleak perception of the world they used to live in. This group of men was called the Royal Society, and one of their superstar members was Isaac Newton.

This book is the history of science, an incredible story of several brilliant minds “cracking the codes” that God has created masterfully. It is the evolution of scientific knowledge from the times of Aristotle, Copernicus, Pascal, Kepler, and Galileo, which have paved the theoretical background for the brilliant story of our protagonist Isaac Newton.

It is the story of the long struggle to proof, for instance, that the world is round, that it is spinning on its own axis and it is rotating the sun. About how the planets in our solar system were discovered. It is about the origins of many mathematical tools, such as how Descartes came to create the X and Y graph we frequently use today. And it is also about the true account of the discoveries, instead of the myth, of the famous eureka moments like Newton’s apple tree and Archimedes’ bath that was actually untrue.

The theoretical debates were intense, the rivalries were bitter, the struggles were human, and the failed experiments even the public reactions were all narrated into an intriguing story of origins for every physics laws. Ultimately, this book is the journey about how humanity came out from the dark ages, and how these gifted men sparked the beginning of the modern world that evolves around scientific discoveries, which last till this day.

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