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The Watershed: A Biography of Johannes Kepler. Paperback – 1960

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Very, Very Enlightening 7 Nov. 2013
By Alan Algustyniak - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book constitutes two of the best chapters of a larger book: "The Sleepwalkers".
It is full of details and anecdotes about Kepler and Galileo, and gives somewhat of a biography of Kepler. The strong point is that it does not idolize Galileo as so many authors do. The idea behind this book is that Kepler and Galileo were the two men who created the field of 'science'. Of course, they did not do it single-handedly. The title comes from the idea that before those two, Europe was much more superstitious and still relied on Aristotle's world view. And these two men created watershed events which changed Europe to develop, and turn to, the scientific method.
Because "The Sleepwalkers" also has excellent chapters on ancient Greek science, it is a much better (i.e. complete) book.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Koestler and Kepler: The Perfect Fusion 17 April 2006
By Devin Mcintosh - Published on
Format: Paperback
"The Watershed" by Arthur Koestler is a magnificent piece of literature that is unique, yet well organized and informative of the life and works of Johannes Kepler. Koestler does a great job in showing how the modern world-view was slowly replaced by the medieval world-view and how science has progressively advanced. He has a direct goal to demonstrate the distinction between Humanities and Sciences. I believe it is a necessary book to read for anyone interested in science. It enables the reader with a greater understanding of the universe and the planets in our solar system. It is also unique in showing the struggles Kepler and many scientists face during their lives that they must overcome. Kepler's personal writings fused with Koestler's outside commentary provide for an informative read applicable to any reader. Koestler shows how Kepler's studies directly influenced modern astronomy and physics through his three laws, which were pivotal in the works of Isaac Newton. Also, he effectively demonstrates the process in which Kepler drew up his theories and found his discoveries, as well as the resistance he faced from the general public, himself, and other factors. "The Watershed is one biography that should be read by anyone interested in physics, astronomy, or any other science.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Stuck between two worlds 15 Nov. 2003
By Y. Zohar - Published on
Format: Paperback
Arthur Kooestler was a true 20th century man. At various periods in his life he was a refugee, communist, Zionist and democratic-socialist. He was a true cosmopolitan, in the positive sense, and also a student of the history of science.
The Watershed is a hymn to a forgotten hero of science - the astronomer J. Kepler who lived in the latter part of the 16th and early part of the 17th centuries. Koestler projects him as a true genius, the father of modern cosmology, who laid the foundation for modern astronomy and who paved the way for Newtonian physics but never realized the importance of his three laws. Kepler was caught between two worlds: the medieval theological world based on Aristotelian physics and modern science based on observation and calculation. If you like he was caught between his heart and his mind. This is readily seen in his works which range from the mystic to the scientific.
Keplers three laws were:
1.the planets do not orbit in circles but in ellipses.
2.the speed of the planets vary during their orbit.
3.there is an exact correlation between a planets' period of revolution around the sun and it's distance from the sun: the squares of the periods of revolution of any two planets are as the cubes of their mean distance from the sun.
In fact, Kepler had discovered gravity but didn't realize it. This great mind couln't make the the final jump into modernity. This book is a really fine portrayal of Kepler as a great thinker, a man of his times and as Everyman with the same personal problems we all experience.
I strongly reccomend this forgotten work to anybody interested in the history of science.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Kepler Forevere 2 Nov. 2013
By Harold Schofield - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Watershed is the best biography I've ever read. This is my third copy. The others I LOANED out and never got back. Koestler on Kepler, Austrian on Austrian. When I first read it it drove me back to my high school geometry books, forced me to ask questions to my more mathematically adept colleagues. It is truly a great book about a fascinating man who lived in fascinating times and followed a fascinating, if sometimes skewed, line of inquiry.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The Watershed 11 Jun. 2004
By Terry M. Hardaway - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent read for all inquiring minds, young and old. As a young avid reader, it was this book and the memory of Koestler's words describing not only Kepler himself, but of the watershed crest where thought and reason began to cascade down the slope of knowledge; it was this that ignited within me the spark that touched off a greater quest for knowledge. My son is now nine, and I hope that this book may have the some of the same cathartic effect on him.
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