The Appendix on Measurement in Physics and the efforts over two centuries to improve on Cavendish’s work, now includes a discussion of the redefinition of the SI Units of Measurement in terms of Fundamental Constants.
The new edition of ‘Evolution’ evolving – Part I, Dr Erasmus Darwin is dedicated to the memory of Dr Desmond King-Hele FRS. It has more on Radicalism and Repression in the 1790s, and a new Appendix which resolves the puzzle of Lucy Hardcastle’s origins, created by Charles Darwin thinking she was another illegitimate daughter of his grandfather’s.
Coming shortly: a short pamphlet analysing the celestial ceiling of St Mary’s Church and revealing four different dateable stages of development: from the original pre-Reformation painting in 1525, to the celebration in 1557 of the return of sacramental practice during the Marian Reaction, and finally the entirely different naturalistic perspective provided by the Enlightenment.
The Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery in Joseph Wright’s famous painting was almost certainly responsible for initiating the changes which are dateable to 1771/2 and 1782.
Next week Quandary Books will be publishing a Trilogy of little monographs, entitled TIME, SPACE, AND TIME-TRAVEL – Physics, Fiction, and Philosophy.
It explores the tensions between Mathematical and Narrative concepts of Time, exploring the impact of revolutions discoveries in physics, a plethora of bewildering paradoxes, and attempts to exploit some of these ideas in fiction and on film.
What is ultimately at stake is fundamental to our efforts to make sense of ‘Reality’ and our own place as conscious beings in the scheme of things.
We will be exhibiting at the Derby Book Fair in St Peter’s Church Hall on 9th June during the 2018 Derby Book Festival. There will be four new volumes on sale written since the Fair last year. They are
(1) The third edition of ‘Henry Cavendish – the Man who ‘weighed’ the Earth‘, with a new extensive Appendix on Measurement in Physics, the importance of ‘Universal Constants’, and over two centuries of efforts to improve on Cavendish’s implied result for the Gravitational Constant ;
(2)’Nature, Power, and Liberty – Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury and Derbyshire’, placing his natural and political philosophy in its historical context;
(3) ‘The Many Blazing Worlds of Margaret Cavendish – a Seventeenth Century Woman’s struggle to be taken seriously as a ‘Philosopher’;
(4) ‘ΑΤΟΜΟΣ – Inventing the Ultimate Constituents of ‘Matter’‘ – this began as an Appendix to the Margaret Cavendish book but quickly took on a life of its own.
Quandary Books will be exhibiting again at the Derby Book Festival on 9th June at St Peter’s Church (in St Peter’s Street in the middle of Derby). Several new volumes are in preparation, in addition to a new little book on Thomas Hobbes. Watch this space for further news.
Thomas Hobbes spent most of his long life (1588-1679) connected with the Cavendish family. He lived through the turbulence of the English Civil War and the European Thirty Years War. This little monograph reclaims the author of the most important work of political philosophy in the English language for Derbyshire, and examines how his radically mechanistic approach to reality led to clashes with the both clergy and the emerging scientific establishment.
The recent Joseph Wright volumes in the Enlightenment Series seem to have been flying off the shelves. This has recently forced a reprint of ‘Searching for the Philosopher’s Stone’ which now includes some slightly alarming additional information about the chemical compounds implied by the enticing aromas recorded during the alchemical process of extracting Phosphorus from vast quantities of of urine. ‘Experimentising the Bird in the Air Pump’ is now sold out, and a reprint is scheduled for the end of this month. The new volume on Thomas Hobbes (who had links with the Cavendish family and hence Derbyshire for over 70 years) entitled ‘Nature, Power and Liberty’ is now also ready for printing at the same time. More news to follow.
The third of my mini-monographs on Joseph Wright’s scientific paintings is now with the printer. The curious title ‘Experimentising the Bird in the Air Pump’ is taken from the writings of someone I suggest could have been the distressed young girl in the picture. However, unlike with the Orrery painting, I do not have overwhelming confidence in my proposal for the identity of the lecturer. Nevertheless much that was unexpected has come to light in the course of the search. For those who want material which is securely demonstrated the book traces the use of live animals – and attempts to find alternatives – in air pump demonstrations from the time of Robert Boyle onwards. The first creature to die in this way was a lark whose wing had been broken by a musket ball. The cover design imagines the spirit of this poor bird, inside an air pump made by Boyle’s successor, soaring towards the light of the moon. Wright’s picture seems to ask what price sentient creatures should pay for our Enlightenment.
An enlarged edition of the Henry Cavendish volume has now gone to print. It includes an extended Appendix on Gravitation, as a homage to Cavendish’s extraordinary diligence and accuracy in determining the Mean Density of the Earth, which in modern terms fixes the Gravitational Constant (‘Big G’). The Appendix explains the significance of this, and provides a pictorial introduction to Einstein’s relativistic theory of gravitation. Despite the overthrow of previous concepts of space, time and matter, ‘Big G’ remains central. Of all the Fundamental Constants of Nature it is the one whose value has been least improved upon since the work of Henry Cavendish in the 18th century.