JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
I have long enjoyed Marie Boas (Hall) The Scientific Renaissance , 1450-1630--it is a very fine book that covers a lot of ground and material and time. Skimming through it tonight I came upon an image of the wood engraving of the great pump designed by Jacques Besson (1540? - 1573, an inventor, mathematician, philosopher) that appeared in his Theatres des Instruments, published in 1579. Interestingly Boas writes in the description of the fabulous device that "the elaborate machinery seems unnecessarily complicated for the simple domestic task shown, and suggests the imaginative elements in many Renaissance engineering books". Which is true--except that I think there is another, simpler explanation for the "simple task" shown: it is what fit on the page. The image is already filled with the machine, with little space left for anything else. So, the simple display; the intention of the illustration is to show the mechanism, and not the result of its employment. I think. Far be it for me to criticize Boas, which I don't think I'm actually doing--I just think that the display of such a simple result was an outcome of paper and ink.
Other excellent works by Boas Hall include:
- Robert Boyle and Seventeenth-Century Chemistry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1958.
- Robert Boyle on Natural Philosophy: An Essay, with Selections from His Writings. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1965.
- Nature and Nature's Laws. Documents of the Scientific Revolution. London: Macmillan, 1970.
- The Mechanical Philosophy. New York: Arno Press, 1981.