Are we finally beginning to understand gravity?

The question of why things fall has puzzled our species since we crawled out from the darkness of our primitive ignorance. Aristotle was the first to offer a serious theory. He proposed that each of the four elements (earth, air, fire, water) had a natural place to which it innately wanted to return. Fire and air rise because their place is in the heavens, whereas earth and water return to the Earth. Aristotelian philosophy had such a profound impact on human thought that this view prevailed for nearly 2,000 years. Only with the Renaissance and the ideas of Kepler and Galileo was it finally challenged; and only by standing on

Heavenly beauty: Doppelmayr’s Atlas Coelestis

It seems something of a disservice to a work of this seriousness to say how beautiful it is, but that is what will first strike the reader. Open this book and if you can prise yourself away from its wonderful marbled end papers, with their swirls and drifts of deepest blue, brilliant flashes of rusty orange, rivulets of ochre, inky spheres and floating masses of fiery red, you will find yourself taken back to the Enlightenment world of Johann Gabriel Doppelmayr’s Celestial Atlas and an age in which Europe’s polymaths were as interested in the discoveries of science as they were in the literary and artistic culture of the day.