The program provides an opportunity to earn three hours of graded credit.

ASTR 105H | Time, Tides, and the Measurement of the Cosmos (3 Credits)

Professor Christopher Clemens
Approach: Physical and Life Sciences (PL)
Connection: World Before 1750 (WB)
IDEAs in Action: HI-ABROAD
Satisfies electives in allied science and natural science for some majors.

This course is a modified, more focused revision of ASTR 205: The Medieval Foundations of Modern Cosmology, designed to take advantage of the opportunities available for enriched learning in England. The course will be problem-based, e.g. how did people reckon calendars, time, and tides, both for navigation and daily life, before clocks and the printed word? Students will first examine the process of discovery and the intermediate state of historical research before constructing their own research theses that might bring some key questions to conclusion.

Examples of proposed research topics are:

  • To what extent did Galileo incorporate Mertonian methods in mechanics into his understanding of falling bodies? What was original with him?
  • Did Galileo know the observational facts about tides, available since Bede and known to all mariners? If so did he choose to ignore them? To what extent was his progressive or humanist rejection of Aristotle responsible for his untenable tide theory?
  • How widespread was the ability to calculate lunar phases on the fingers? Were the requirements of Charlemagne, reiterated by the Council of Trent, that all clergy be able to perform these calculations taken seriously? Why did Clavius, contemporary of Galileo, write a tract updating the Computus Ecclesiasticus per Digitorum Articulos for the Gregorian Calendar?