The First Scientist by Brian Clegg
A Life of Roger Bacon

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Synopsis

The First Scientist is the first full-length biography in 50 years of the medieval monk who brought science out of the Dark Ages. Legend transformed the thirteenth-century English friar Roger Bacon into the Faustlike sorcerer "Doctor Mirabilis," but today he is recognized as science's first pioneer in Europe. Science writer Brian Clegg bypasses the vicissitudes of Bacon's reputation, which range from miracle-worker to charlatan, and places the true individual in the often contentious intellectual atmosphere of the late medieval era. In this vivid biography, he portrays Bacon as not only a lucid observer of nature, rigorous experimenter, and gifted mathematician, but also an original theologian and philosopher—a man who, like Galileo, would suffer imprisonment in his quest for the true nature of the world. Clegg traces Bacon's career from his popularity as a teacher at Oxford and Paris, through his innovations in calendar reform, optics, a flying machine (over 200 years before Leonardo da Vinci's), and, most famously, development of the principle of inductive experimental science. Clegg narrates how Bacon, once censored by his order, briefly wrote on experimental science and natural philosophy under Pope Clement IV's patronage, but then was imprisoned as a margician by the church after Clement's death. Clegg also unravels the controversy over the "Voynich" cypher manuscript—which some claimed Bacon wrote in code to detail his experiments with microscopes and astronomy—and the subsequent backlash against Bacon's reputation as a scientist ahead of his time.
 

About Brian Clegg

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Published August 29, 2013 by Constable. 256 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel. Non-fiction
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