Celestial mechanics, medieval artwork
Celestial mechanics. Coloured historical artwork depicting a medieval pilgrim looking out from the sky (blue) to see the mechanics of the heavens (upper left). Cogs (yellow) can be seen in the left corner, with tracks that the Sun, moon and stars move along. This is an example of the classical geocentric (Ptolemaic) worldview that dates back to Ancient Greek times. It was replaced by the heliocentric (Copernican) model, proposed by Nicolaus Copernicus in 1543. This woodcut is from The Atmosphere by Camille Flammarion, published in 1873.
© DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Robert Boyle, 17th century Irish natural philosopher, (c1850). Artist: Unknown
Robert Boyle, 17th century Irish natural philosopher, (c1850). Boyle (1627-1691) was the seventh son of the first Earl of Cork. After Eton he travelled extensively in Europe, before commencing (with his assistant Robert Hooke) experiments on improving the air pump invented by Otto von Guericke. Boyle's many experiments on air, vacuum, combustion, and respiration led to the publication in 1661 of his The Sceptical Chymist, in which he criticised current theories of matter, particularly those relating to alchemy. In 1662 he formulated Boyle's Law, which states that the pressure and volume of gas are inversely proportional. He was a founder member of the Royal Society, though in 1680 he refused to become their first president as he was unwilling to take the oath of allegiance to the monarchy. Taken from the book Old England's Worthies. (London, c1850).
© The Print Collector / Heritage-Images
16th-century medical astrology
Medical astrology. 16th-century artwork of Zodiac Man, a male body labelled with the twelve signs of the zodiac. This artwork was published in Freiburg in 1503 in the encyclopedia Margarita Philosophica by the German author Gregor Reisch (c.1467-1525). This encyclopedia was very popular, and was one of the standard textbooks of the time. The artwork shows how physicians thought the universe (the Macrocosm) was reflected in the human body (the Microcosm), a central concept in the astrology and natural philosophy of medieval Europe and the Renaissance. The abdominal and thoracic organs are shown by dissection. Increased use of dissections from the late 1400s eventually led to advances in medical science and a decrease in the influence of astrology on medicine.
© CORDELIA MOLLOY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY