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English Science: Bacon to Newton (Cambridge English Prose Texts)

by Brian Vickers

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Seventeenth-century England witnessed an unprecedented flourishing of natural philosophy, inspired by Francis Bacon's call for a new science based on observation and experiment, to be carried out in collective research projects,whose findings would be communicated in clear language. This anthology documents the effect of Bacon's ideas in the remarkably fruitful period following 1660. It includes his sketch of a scientific research institute in the New Atlantis (1627), which inspired the founding of the Royal Society in 1662, as acknowledged by Thomas Sprat in its History, excerpted here. Bacon's plea for an appropriate language for science also affected the Royal Society, as Sprat records, and gave birth to a number of schemes for man-made artificial languages, represented here by John Wilkins's Essay Towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language (1668). This reader gives full coverage to the dramatic understanding of nature achieved through experiments using newly developed scientific instruments: Robert Boyle's investigation of air pressure; Hooke and Henry Power's mastery of the microscope; and Isaac Newton's use of the prism to show that light is not homogeneous but composed of many different colours. The selections are accompanied by a general introduction, extensive notes, contemporary illustrations, a glossary of obsolete and technical terms and an updated bibliography.… (more)

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Seventeenth-century England witnessed an unprecedented flourishing of natural philosophy, inspired by Francis Bacon's call for a new science based on observation and experiment, to be carried out in collective research projects,whose findings would be communicated in clear language. This anthology documents the effect of Bacon's ideas in the remarkably fruitful period following 1660. It includes his sketch of a scientific research institute in the New Atlantis (1627), which inspired the founding of the Royal Society in 1662, as acknowledged by Thomas Sprat in its History, excerpted here. Bacon's plea for an appropriate language for science also affected the Royal Society, as Sprat records, and gave birth to a number of schemes for man-made artificial languages, represented here by John Wilkins's Essay Towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language (1668). This reader gives full coverage to the dramatic understanding of nature achieved through experiments using newly developed scientific instruments: Robert Boyle's investigation of air pressure; Hooke and Henry Power's mastery of the microscope; and Isaac Newton's use of the prism to show that light is not homogeneous but composed of many different colours. The selections are accompanied by a general introduction, extensive notes, contemporary illustrations, a glossary of obsolete and technical terms and an updated bibliography.

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