Item description for The Forgotten Revolution: How Science Was Born in 300 BC and Why it Had to Be Reborn by Lucio Russo & Silvio Levy...
The third and second centuries BC witnessed, in the Greek world, a scientific and technological explosion. Greek culture had reached great heights in art, literature and philosophy already in the earlier classical era, but it was in the age of Archimedes and Euclid that science as we know it was born, and gave rise to sophisticated technology that would not be seen again until the 18th century. This scientific revolution was also accompanied by great changes and a new kind of awareness in many other fields, including art and medicine. What were the landmarks in the meteoric rise of science 2300 years ago? Why are they so little known today, even among scientists, classicists and historians? How do they relate to the post-1500 science that we arefamiliar with from school? What led to the end of ancient science? These are the questions that this book discusses, in the belief that the answers bear on choices we face today.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.25" Weight: 2.1 lbs.
Release Date Jan 22, 2004
ISBN 3540200681 ISBN13 9783540200680
Reviews - What do customers think about The Forgotten Revolution: How Science Was Born in 300 BC and Why it Had to Be Reborn?
Not so good Jan 30, 2008
To many leading historians (at least, of the past whose books and work I have begun to touch upon) I would imagine they would also give this book 2 stars as well. From a history of science and a history of philosophy perspective, the work lacks deep professional self-awareness and understanding. (a standard scientific method does not exist except at the most superficial level and what is a completely unrespected form; nevertheless author writes as if such a standard scientific method exists in our day and age) More importantly, although the ancient Greeks have and are no doubt been and being underestimated, personfying them with the awareness of professional 20th century philosophy of science is just as bone-headed as claiming the Ancient Greeks to be more simple than they were. Whatever the awareness and intellectual powers of these people were, they still seem to be slightly more advanced than all of modern thought in some ways. Although they are approachable (e.g. Rollo May's Love and Will reconstructs parts of Ancient Greek thought), this book is pretty far from the mark. Alas, emberassingly so.
Revealing, persuasive Jan 28, 2008
Author Lucio Russo argues that between 300 B.C. and 145 B.C., the Hellenistic Greeks developed and used "Galileo's" scientific method: they made theoretical models of phenomena (p. 178), drew inferences from their models, and then used experiments to test the validity of their inferences against reality.
In support of his thesis, the author presents evidence from many fields of science. For example, Erasistratus investigated animal metabolism via experiment (p. 156). Ctesibius constructed experimental equipment to explore the behavior of fluids (p. 77). Herophilus performed experiments to determine the functions of nerves (p. 151). Herophilus also stressed the importance of observation and experiment in medicine (p. 154), as did Philo of Byzantium in the case of weapons research (p. 111).
Technologies arose which exploited scientific findings; e.g., water pumps with spindle valves and alternating pistons (p. 124), differential gears (p. 130), and precision water clocks (pp. 102-103).
However, after 145 B.C. few were still capable of understanding Hellenistic science, mathematics, and technology. Not until the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance did Europeans - e.g., Leonardo da Vinci (p. 336) and Galileo (pp. 350-351) - begin to rediscover it, even if they didn't always understand it. Copernicus (p. 341) and Newton (p. 369) both acknowledged their debts to the Ancients. As late as 1872, mathematicians were re-inventing Euclid's definition of irrational numbers in terms of rational ones (pp. 46-47). (Indeed, the Ancients represented numbers by means of "modern" place notation and they used zero (p. 43).)
Whether considering their knowledge that the sun and moon govern the tides (p. 313) or that bodies of different masses fall through equal distances in equal times (p. 351), Russo reveals that the Ancients were far more sophisticated than we'd been led to believe.
Stranger Than Atlantis Nov 6, 2007
Imagine an ancient lost world, with a thriving, advanced culture of science and technology, utterly lost to history. Apparently, we do not need to look to Atlantis myths to find such a place. "Fortean" as it may sound, many of our core modern scientific and technological achievements are, according to Russo, a rediscovery of what had already been known to the Alexandrian ancients of 300 BC, but subsequently forgotten. If this mystery piques your imagination, by all means read this book. It is well written, copiously referenced, and includes an extensive and illuminating discussion of what "science" is, essential to understanding what, exactly, was lost. We are used to taking the progress of scientific knowledge for granted, but perhaps we should not be complacent --- if science was forgotten once, could it be lost again? There is much food for thought here.
A revolution in the history of science Aug 2, 2004
The most interesting nonfiction book I have read in the last 5 years (i have read the italian version). I expect that the appearance of the english version will start a serious discussion about the theses exposed in this book. The fact that the author has a classical formation in addition to his scientifical training permits the interpretation of obscure ancient sources to support, imho convincingly, that the alexandrine civilization had reached unsuspected advances in all sciences. (I am not a professional historian, nor am I a scientist; I am interested in science and history, that's why i found this book so interesting)