History of Science to the Age of Newton

History of Science 3013 Instructor: Peter Barker

Final examination -- Dec 12, 2018, 8:00-10:00am

Time: Two hours.

Instructions: In the Blue Book provided, write essays on ONE topic from list A and ONE topic from list B. You may consult books or notes during the examination, but use of the internet is prohibited.


1) Describe two important achievements of Islamicate science that are not found in earlier Greek or Roman science.

2) What were three important defects of Copernicus's system, from the viewpoint of a sixteenth century reader? How were these defects repaired by seventeenth century scientists?

3) How did Kepler's account of planetary motion resemble and differ from that of Copernicus?

4) What were Galileo's three most important telescopic discoveries and how did they undermine Aristotle's picture of the cosmos?

5) "If I have seen further, it is because I stood upon the shoulders of giants." -- Isaac Newton. Who were the giants, and how did Newton extend or correct their work?


6) Review Aristotle and Ptolemy's arguments for the centrality and immobility of the earth, and construct replies to each argument based on the work of Galileo and Newton

7) Using either astronomy or medicine as an example, assess the extent to which Western science is indebted to earlier Islamicate achievements.

8) In the period from the death of Copernicus to the publication of Newton's work, was the influence of religion on science positive or negative?

9) Describe the role of patronage in the careers of any two figures considered during the course.

10) Imagine you are an advisor to the King of England in 1690. His Majesty wishes to appoint an Astronomer Royal. There are two candidates: a follower of Tycho Brahe and a follower of Isaac Newton. Who would you advise His Majesty to appoint and why?