The Clock and the Camshaft: And Other Medieval Inventions We Still Can't Live Without

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Product Details

Prometheus Books
Publish Date
5.9 X 8.9 X 0.7 inches | 0.65 pounds

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About the Author

John W. Farrell is a writer and producer working in Boston. He is the author of The Day Without Yesterday: Lemaître, Einstein and the Birth of Modern Cosmology. A graduate of Harvard College with a B.A. in English and American Literature, Farrell has written for Commonweal, the Wall Street Journal, Aeon, Skeptic, Cosmos Magazine, New Scientist, the Boston Globe, Salon, National Review, Huffington Post, First Things, and The Tablet of London, and he writes a science blog for Forbes. In 2010, he was a Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellow in Science and Religion.


"Medieval inventions were both homegrown -like the windmill -and imported from the Arab east, where advanced mathematics like algebra made it possible to fashion a new science of astronomy based on a calculating device -like the astrolabe. Even more transformative was the mechanical clock of the thirteenth century, which generated such features of modernity as precision measurement, and the legal revolution which enabled the formation of corporate units with legal personality. John Farrell's account of medieval inventions and inventivity is as varied as the medieval world itself." -Thomas F. Glick, Emeritus Professor of History at Boston University and historian of technology
"John Farrell's remarkable excursion through scores of medieval inventions proves, beyond any doubt, that every aspect of modern technology has its roots in the past. Be prepared for a surprising introduction to some of the fascinating inventions -and fascinating minds -of the so-called Middle Ages. A great read!" -Kenneth R. Miller, Professor of Biology, Brown University and author of Finding Darwin's God and Only a Theory
"The urge to innovate wasn't invented in Silicon Valley. As John Farrell's fascinating book demonstrates, even the more leisurely rhythms of the Middle Ages led to a plethora of inventions, from mass-produced paper to horological escapements. It's eye-opening to read about the innovations that continue to prove their value today." -Sean Carroll, author of Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime