Kepler’s New Astronomy
The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is celebrating the birth of modern astronomy, reminding the world of Galileo’s first use of the telescope to study the heavens 400 years ago.
What’s being overlooked in the clamour is the Nova Astronomia or New Astronomy published by Galileo’s contemporary Johannes Kepler the same year.
Insisting on physical causes underlying planetary motions, this volume demonstrated conclusively that the Earth orbits the Sun, and not the other way round.
And the work led directly to Newton’s law of Gravity.
Darwin and the Eye
The eye, in all its perfection, Darwin recognised, could represent a real problem for the theory of evolution.
But in fact, with hundreds of different seeing organs specialising in different functions across the animal kingdom, the eye actually reveals the great inventiveness of natural selection.
Quentin Cooper hears about the latest remarkable example, a fish eye that focuses light using a dished mirror, and how it illustrates Darwin's 150-year old theory.
Next week: Nature's best kept secret, the ribosome, the machinery of life ...