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30 review for The Watershed: A Biography of Johannes Kepler

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jorge I. Zuluaga

    Hace unos años ofrecí una conferencia sobre Johannes Kepler en la Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (Medellín, Colombia) y con el objeto de prepararme conseguí este librito en una librería anticuaria de la ciudad. Para mi pesar no alcance a leerlo antes de la mencionada conferencia, aunque sí leí, por supuesto, otras fuentes. Hoy, por fin encontré el tiempo después de años, para leer el libro y mi opinión sobre Kepler, que forje justamente preparando aquella conferencia, se vio más que confirma Hace unos años ofrecí una conferencia sobre Johannes Kepler en la Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (Medellín, Colombia) y con el objeto de prepararme conseguí este librito en una librería anticuaria de la ciudad. Para mi pesar no alcance a leerlo antes de la mencionada conferencia, aunque sí leí, por supuesto, otras fuentes. Hoy, por fin encontré el tiempo después de años, para leer el libro y mi opinión sobre Kepler, que forje justamente preparando aquella conferencia, se vio más que confirmada: este melancólico matemático alemán, de imaginación desbocada, personalidad conflictiva y que vivió la mayor parte de su vida de hacer calendarios y horóscopos, es, sin lugar a dudas el padre verdadero de la astronomía moderna. La cultura popular nos ha vendido a Galileo como el "santo de patrono" de la astronomía. En un lugar no menos importante tiene a Nicolás Copérnico, a quién nos pintan como el revolucionario que acabo de un plumazo con la astronomía medieval y nos transporto lejos del centro del Universo. Nada puede ser menos cierto después de conocer la vida de Kepler a través de sus a veces enrevesados libros, de la innumerable cantidad de hojas que registran su relación epistolar con decenas de personajes de la época, incluyendo a Galileo, pero no menos importante, de los análisis epistemólogico y hasta psicológicos que el gran Arthur Koestler realiza en este biografía (que en realidad es una compilación de los capítulos sobre Kepler de su clásico "Los Sonámbulos") Kepler fue el último pitagórico y el primer astrofísico. Punto aparte. Al lado de su obra, que combina el estilo muy adornado y lleno de referencias metafísicas de la literatura medieval, con el estilo moderno de la literatura científica (a la que se adelantó unas décadas), las obras de Copérnico y Galileo realmente palidecen. No por el estilo, ni por la capacidad de ser leídas o no - la de Copérnico es inaccesible y la de Galileo es una obra divulgativa muy bien escrita, sino por su visionaria claridad y el impacto duradero de las ideas contenidas en ellas. Es cierto que Copernico sentó las bases, pero fue solo a través de las ideas de Kepler (no el modelo del Canónico polaco, que estaba lleno de errores) que pudimos abandonar, en términos prácticos y en filosóficos el centro del Universo. Es cierto que Galileo fue el primero en publicar sus observaciones del cielo a través de telescopios diseñados para ese fin, pero fue la teoría óptica de Kepler y su propio diseño del telescopio astronómico, los que perduraron en la historia y marcaron el inicio de la astronomía telescópica. Esta es una biografía obligada para cualquier astrónomo, que debería saber muy bien en dónde comenzó lo que hace. También la encontrarán muy entretenida, llena de anécdotas increíbles sobre personajes que a veces idealizamos (Tycho, Galileo y el mismo Kepler), escrita en un estilo muy diferente al de mucha biografías.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jamey

    One of the first serious books I ever read. A good biography usually makes you love the subject; this one did for me.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Laura Dam

    Es un extracto del libro "Los Sonámbulos" que comprende los capítulos dedicados a Kepler aunque habla extensamente de Tycho Brahe y Galileo también. El estilo es un poco seco y por momentos roza lo whig pero está bien documentado.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Krokki

    Johannes Kepler was one of the Giants wich shoulders Newton stood upon to "see farther than others". This impressive and at times troubled mind founded some of the greates law descibing the universe as we still know it today. His greates achivements appeared through the phenomenom of "sleepwalking", wich is descibed as when one initally searching on one path suddenly finds one self at another; leading to to a clear destination wich was not the one he first attended to find. Just like Columbus, w Johannes Kepler was one of the Giants wich shoulders Newton stood upon to "see farther than others". This impressive and at times troubled mind founded some of the greates law descibing the universe as we still know it today. His greates achivements appeared through the phenomenom of "sleepwalking", wich is descibed as when one initally searching on one path suddenly finds one self at another; leading to to a clear destination wich was not the one he first attended to find. Just like Columbus, while searching for India, found America. When it comes to gravity though, later proved to exist by Newton mearly 60 years after Keplers death, he discribed its effect at various times, but did not to explore it scientificly to any extent, and thus ended up passing on the possibility of founding its law.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    Kepler himself said it the best: “The roads that lead man to knowledge are as wondrous as that knowledge itself.” Such is his own story, which has been arranged and told well by the author, thanks in large part to Kepler’s copious notes. It is a wandering tale in many ways. “...yet it gives me pleasure to remember how many detours I had to make, along how many walls I had to grope in the darkness of my ignorance until I found the door which lets in the light of truth.” This light of truth had elu Kepler himself said it the best: “The roads that lead man to knowledge are as wondrous as that knowledge itself.” Such is his own story, which has been arranged and told well by the author, thanks in large part to Kepler’s copious notes. It is a wandering tale in many ways. “...yet it gives me pleasure to remember how many detours I had to make, along how many walls I had to grope in the darkness of my ignorance until I found the door which lets in the light of truth.” This light of truth had eluded men for thousands of years despite the persistent intuition of an ordered universe. It was somehow the combination of knowing and not knowing that made progress possible. It was that he saw God in the mysterious cosmos that drove him. “The ideas of quantities have been and are in God from eternity, they are God himself…” Kepler proved the domain of God could be better understood with mathematics and observation, and thru his own example, by faith. A watershed indeed.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    This is the 3rd time I've read this book, the first time was during high school. Arthur Koestler, author of Darkness at Noon et al., Kepler was a fascinating man, on the cusp of modernity, who was myopic and had double vision yet was one of the great astronomers of all time. He discovered and described the first three laws of motion, wrote the first science fiction novel (Der Somnium) which was a disguise for lunar theories which could not be published as fact due to the threat religious persecu This is the 3rd time I've read this book, the first time was during high school. Arthur Koestler, author of Darkness at Noon et al., Kepler was a fascinating man, on the cusp of modernity, who was myopic and had double vision yet was one of the great astronomers of all time. He discovered and described the first three laws of motion, wrote the first science fiction novel (Der Somnium) which was a disguise for lunar theories which could not be published as fact due to the threat religious persecution and retaliation. As a student Kepler defended Copernicus' heliocentric universe theory because it appealed to him more than prevailing earth-centric dogma. He was a man swimming upstream all his life and although he complained mightily about his travails, he survived them to provide us with the first modern telescope and the basics of modern astronomy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Yi-Di

    amazing; the perfect balance of style and meticulous research. koestler supplemented all his facts with copious amounts of excerpts from letters and papers written by kepler, all the while painting a beautiful portrait of kepler as a human, a person, not a mere figure of science. one of the best, most aesthetically-written biographies i have ever read, hands down.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michael Carroll

    Excellent bio, amazing perspective on renaissance science. Koestler's "sleepwalking" thesis is very fascinating, and Kepler's life and intellectual process is bonkers enough from a modern perspective to make it believable.

  9. 5 out of 5

    John

    An inside view on how Kepler helped future scientists develop an understanding of our world.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Páez

  11. 5 out of 5

    Teo

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kotilo

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jack

  14. 5 out of 5

    Glenn

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dill

  16. 5 out of 5

    Paula Sanchez

  17. 4 out of 5

    Aaron McLeran

  18. 4 out of 5

    Selim Bozkurt

  19. 4 out of 5

    Blake Spraggins

  20. 4 out of 5

    Linda

  21. 4 out of 5

    Teemu Öhman

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cryselle

  23. 4 out of 5

    Steve Voiles

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ilya

  25. 4 out of 5

    Heikki Siivonen

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

  27. 5 out of 5

    Karl Ivan Farthegn

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sue Law

  29. 4 out of 5

    Walter Mendoza

  30. 5 out of 5

    Janet Bailey

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