Tours of the Cosmos from Dante to Dark Matter
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Dante’s gaze into Beatrice’s eye initiates a grand tour of the medieval cosmos, a structure of overwhelming grandure and consequence. A similar gaze into the new eyes we have constructed for ourselves over the last generation take us today on a similar tour of the vaster-still modern cosmological model. Are there any moral lessons for humanity, other than our insignificance to be learned from this, contemporary, grand tour?
Tom McLeish FRS is currently Professor of Physics and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Durham University (from 2018 Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of York, UK). His research has contributed to the new field of ‘soft matter physics’ - work with chemists, engineers and biologists connects molecular structure with emergent material properties. He has also led large academic-industrial collaborations. He is currently Principal Investigator of the UK ‘Physics of Life’ network, funded by EPSRC and BBSRC. Other academic interests include the framing of science, society and science policy, the history and philosophy of science (the ‘Ordered Universe’ project is re-examining scientific treatises from the 13th century), and theological narratives of science and technology, resulting in the recent book Faith and Wisdom in Science (OUP 2014). He has been a Reader in the Anglican Church since 1993 and is a trustee of the John Templeton Foundation.
Giles Gasper is a specialist in medieval thought and culture, and is Principal Investigator of the Ordered Universe project, dedicated to interdisciplinary readings of medieval science. Educated at the Universities of Oxford and Toronto, Gasper’s work focuses on medieval intellectual history, the social location of ideas, and the longer histories of science and religion.
A new exhibition at Palace Green Library will follow the story of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Reflecting the entire human experience, Dante’s work considers the power of resilience through difficult times and ultimately offers a message of hope.
Image: Alexandra Carr
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