Shakespeare and Science

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Since Shakespeare was brought up today already, I could not help but link you to an article written over at The Telegraph about Shakespeare and Science. Dan Falk writes,”The genius from Stratford-upon-Avon has worn many hats over the years, with imaginative scholars casting him as a closet Catholic, a mainstream Protestant, an ardent capitalist, a Marxist, a misogynist, a feminist, a homosexual, a legal clerk and a cannabis dealer – yet the words “Shakespeare” and “science” are rarely uttered in the same breath.” This is true, at least to me. Not once have I ever heard anyone make any correlation between Shakespeare and the science of his time period.

However, since it is approaching the 450 anniversary of Shakespeare – scholars are seeking out the connection The Bard and the study of structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment….I mean.. Science.

Here’s another excerpt from Dan Falk’s piece (visit this link to read the article in it’s entirety):

A surprise, perhaps, given that he was producing his greatest work just as new ideas about the human body, the Earth and the universe were transforming Western thought. But a re-evaluation is on the horizon. Scholars are examining Shakespeare’s interest in the scientific discoveries of his time – what he knew, when he knew it, and how that knowledge might be reflected in his work.

Take astronomy. The plays are full of references to the Sun, Moon, stars, comets, eclipses and heavenly spheres – but these are usually dismissed as strictly old-school, reflecting the (largely incorrect) ideas of ancient Greek thinkers such as Aristotle and Ptolemy. Although Copernicus had lifted the Earth into the heavens with his revolutionary book in 1543 – 21 years before Shakespeare’s birth – it supposedly took decades for the new cosmology to reach England; and anyway, the idea of a sun-centred universe only became intellectually respectable with the news of Galileo’s telescopic discoveries in 1610. By then, Shakespeare was ready for retirement in Warwickshire.

But we shouldn’t be so hasty. The Copernican theory attracted early adherents in Britain, beginning with a favourable mention in Robert Recorde’s The Castle of Knowledge in 1556. The first detailed account of the theory by an Englishman came from Thomas Digges, whose book included a diagram of the solar system in which the stars extend outward without limit – a vision of a possibly infinite cosmos.

And speaking of Bard meets Science, check out this article about the development of an alogorithm that allows for computer generated Shakespearesque poetry: LINK


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