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The Grand Contraption:
The World as Myth, Number, and Chance
David Park

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"This book celebrates the formation of ideas based on myth, religion, aesthetics, logic and mathematics as they have evolved over the past four thousand years. . . . David Park is a fabulous guide through the history of these ideas and the minds of the great participants."--B. I. Henry, Australian Physics

"By abandoning any attempt to construct a neat plot, Park has avoided the temptation to trace out a progressive line leading inexorably toward modern science, and the book's meandering structure itself recalls the nondirectional pattern of scientific change. . . . Park's decision to be guided by personal choice and serendipity has led him to construct a meta-commentary on science's history."--Patricia Fara, Isis


"The Grand Contraption is the long-needed antidote to all those top-heavy histories of scientific thought that pass brusquely over the philosophies of the ancient world, eager to find the sure footing of modernity. Park tells us not only what science now knows, but how it got to know it: from an enthralling mix of myth, genius, logic, careful observation, guesswork, invention, and a dash of inspired lunacy."--Philip Ball, author of Life's Matrix and consultant editor, Nature

"This book literally grabs you. The facts presented, the stories told, the author's reflections on the information he presents, are rendered beautifully-and masterfully. This is a labor of love, and the passion with which David Park has written the book is readily apparent and makes one want to keep on reading. And in doing so one is richly rewarded with keen insights, judicious appraisals, and with questions regarding courses of action and consequences that are not only thought provoking but also relevant."--Silvan S. Schweber, Brandeis University and Harvard University, author of QED and the Men Who Made It (Princeton)

"The Grand Contraption is an impressive feat of scholarship in the history of science, and it is even more impressive if one considers that it is written in clear and unpretentious English. Park offers, in plain language, an attractive way to think about cosmological ideas from a single perspective. No one will put this book down without having their level of consciousness raised by a few notches."--Christian Wildberg, Princeton University

"Physics, astronomy, geology, and poetry all come together here in the grand quest to understand what out universe is and how it works. "Only a handful of authors have both the expertise and the courage to write a book of this sweep and depth. David Park has woven together a vast tapestry of humankind's vision of the cosmos, from ancient myths to our contemporary curiosity about intelligent life on other worlds."--Owen Gingerich. Professor of Astronomy & the History of Science, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

"An exceptional and well-written introduction to the history of ideas, viewed from the perspective of their creators, who were adapting their thinking to new facts and conceptions as they went. We found the book engrossing and illuminating."--Elizabeth Wayland Barber and Paul T. Barber, coauthors of When They Severed Earth from Sky

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File created: 4/21/2017

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