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Kepler's Witch: an Astronomer's Discovery of Cosmic Order Amid Religious War, Political Intrigue, and the Heresy Trial of His Mother.


Johannes Kepler is celebrated at the "father of celestial Mechanics." His three laws of planetary motion set the stage for Isaac Newton's work on gravity and provided proof of the Copernican universe. This 17th-century astronomer also exhibited a host of other talents and was a revolutionary in the fields of optics and mathematics. Yet Kepler lived in times of religious turmoil and political strife. In this biography, Connor carefully details the role of this social climate in Kepler's life. The author, a former Jesuit priest, considers how Kepler's religious convictions as a devout Lutheran affected his work, relationships, and role in the church. Connor explains that Kepler was driven by his loyalty to Calvinism, which stood in the way of the riches and notoriety that his contemporaries Galileo and Tycho Brahe enjoyed. While Galileo had his problems with the Roman Catholic Church, he is viewed as a martyr for his persecution. Kepler didn't fare as well, and Connor believes that's because Kepler didn't "separate his science from his metaphysics or his metaphysics from his mysticism." Kepler's mother was tried for witchcraft, and Connor explores this time in Kepler's life to understand the man and the times in which he lived. Kepler advanced his scientific ideas while maintaining his religious loyalty. HarpSF, 2004, 402 p., b&w photos, hardcover, $24.95.
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Title Annotation:Books: a selection of new and notable books of scientific interest
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Aug 21, 2004
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