"'This is the book on Elizabethan science everyone should read. Not only does it offer a convincing reinterpretation of the role of science in society, but it is written in an arresting style, jaunty, full of illuminating anecdotes, and widely accessible.' Ian Archer, Oxford University '... a significant contribution to the history of science, but also to that of London, and an exciting portrait of life in the swarming, spreading city during the reign of the first Elizabeth.' Ronald Hutton, Independent on Sunday"
This book explores the streets, shops, back alleys, and gardens of Elizabethan London where a boisterous and diverse group of men and women shared a keen interest in the study of nature. These assorted merchants, gardeners, barber-surgeons, midwives, instrument makers, mathematics teachers, engineers, alchemists, and other experimenters formed a patchwork scientific community whose practices set the stage for the Scientific Revolution, Deborah Harkness contends. While Francis Bacon has been widely regarded as the father of modern science, scores of his London contemporaries also deserve a share in this distinction. It was their collaborative, yet often contentious, ethos that helped to develop the ideals of modern scientific research.The book examines six particularly fascinating episodes of scientific inquiry and dispute in sixteenth-century London, bringing to life the individuals involved and the challenges they faced. These men and women experimented and invented, argued and competed, waged wars in the press, and struggled to understand the complexities of the natural world.
Together their stories illuminate the blind alleys and surprising twists and turns taken as medieval philosophy gave way to the empirical, experimental culture that became a hallmark of the Scientific Revolution.