The Clockwork Universe & the Birth of the Modern World…


I really dig chronologies and timelines. Here’s one from the front material of The Clockwork Universe, a book about a group of men that included Newton, Galileo, Leibniz, Kepler who, according to author, Edward Dolnick, gave birth to the modern world…

In a world of chaos and disease, one group of driven, idiosyncratic geniuses envisioned a universe that ran like Clockwork. They were the Royal Society, the men who made the modern world…

Tormented by Contradictions

“At the end of the seventeenth century, sickness was divine punishment, astronomy and astrology were indistinguishable, and the world’s most brilliant, ambitious, and curious scientists were tormented by contradictions. They believed in angels, devils, and alchemy yet also believed the universe followed precise mathematical laws that were as intricate and [as] perfectly regulated as the mechanisms of a great clock.

The Clockwork Universe captures these monolithic thinkers as they wrestled with nature’s most sweeping mysteries…Dolnick illuminates the fascinating personalities [of these men] and vividly animates their momentous struggle during an era when little was known and everything was new—-battles of will, faith, and intellect that would change the course of history itself ”

– Edward Dolnick, The Clockwork Universe

“A free-for-all of ideas in a character-rich, historical narrative.” – The Wall Street Journal



1543 Copernicus publishes On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, which says that the planets circle the sun rather than the Earth

  • 1564 Shakespeare born
  • 1564 Galileo born
  • 1571 Kepler born
  • 1600 Shakespeare writes Hamlet
  • 1609 Kepler publishes his first two laws, about the paths of planets as they orbit the sun
  • 1610 Galileo turns a telescope to the heavens
  • 1616 Shakespeare dies
  • 1618– 1648 Thirty Years’ War
  • 1619 Kepler publishes his third law, which tells how the planets’ orbits relate to one another
  • 1630 Kepler dies
  • 1633 Inquisition puts Galileo on trial
  • 1637 Descartes declares “I think, therefore I am,” and, in the same book, unveils coordinate geometry
  • 1642– 1651 English Civil War
  • 1642 Galileo dies
  • 1642 Newton born
  • 1646 Leibniz born
  • 1649 King Charles I beheaded
  • 1660 Official founding of the Royal Society
  • 1664– 66 Newton’s “miracle years.” He invents calculus and calculates gravity’s pull on the moon.
  • 1665 Plague strikes London
  • 1666 Great Fire of London
  • 1674 Leeuwenhoek looks through his microscope and discovers a hidden world of “little animals”
  • 1675 Newton becomes a member of the Royal Society
  • 1675– 76 Leibniz’s “miracle year.” He invents calculus independently of Newton
  • 1684 Leibniz publishes an account of calculus
  • 1684 Halley visits Newton at Cambridge
  • 1687 Newton publishes the Principia, which describes “The System of the World”
  • 1696 Newton leaves Cambridge and moves to London
  • 1699– 1722 Newton and Leibniz, and supporters of both men, battle over calculus. Each genius claims the other stole his idea.
  • 1704 Newton publishes an account of calculus, after thirty years of near silence
  • 1705 Newton knighted
  • 1716 Leibniz dies (Newton continues fighting to claim calculus)
  • 1727 Newton dies

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s