13th Century Cosmology

In a remarkable cross-disciplinary project I am working with other Scientists, Linguists and Historians to better understand the Cosmological models advanced in the the early 13th Century by Robert Grosseteste. The Ordered Universe Project is lead by Dr. Giles Gasper in the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies.

I recently gave a public lecture in Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln on this topic. here’s the abstract…

Cosmology is the ultimate leap of scientific faith. A physicist tries to understand the world by noticing the behaviour of things around us. She describes their interactions through “the laws of physics”. To understand the universe, we must do something daring. As a cosmologist I take these laws and assume that they can explain the origin of the universe.  In De Luce, Robert Grosseteste presents an amazing synthesis of ideas about the nature and form of matter. Just like the modern cosmologist, he takes these ideas and extrapolates them to explain the origin of the Universe. He explains how Aristotle’s ordered universe is created after it is seeded by something remarkably like the Big Bang. I will present my work “translating” De Luce into a modern mathematical language. This allows us to fully understand the seeming obscure text and to fully appreciate what Robert Grosseteste might have done if he had had the benefit of modern Algebra and the computing power of a Macbook.

This work is part of the Ordered Universe project, an international network funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Durham University.

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