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A Scheme of Heaven: Astrology and the Birth of Science

Alexander Boxer

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Hardback

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01 February 2020
Mathematics & Sciences; History of science; Astronomical charts & atlases; Astrology; Popular astronomy & space
Despite a resurgence in popularity, horoscopes are generally considered to be pseudoscience today, but they were once a cutting-edge scientific tool. In this ingenious work of history, data scientist Alexander Boxer examines a treasure trove of esoteric classical sources to expose the deep imaginative framework by which - for millennia - we made sense of our fates. Astrology, he argues, was the ancient world's most ambitious applied mathematics problem, a grand data-analysis enterprise sustained by some of history's most brilliant minds, from Ptolemy to al-Kindi to Kepler.

Boxer explores the extraordinary subtleties of astrological ideas and tells the stories of their inventors and most influential exponents. And he puts them through their paces using modern data sets - finding that the methods of today's scientists are often uncomfortably close to those of astrology's ancient sages. Humans are pattern-matching creatures, and astrology is our grandest pattern-matching game. Our future really was written in the stars, but not in the way we guessed.
By:   Alexander Boxer
Imprint:   Profile
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Edition:   Main
Dimensions:   Height: 240mm,  Width: 162mm,  Spine: 33mm
Weight:   682g
ISBN:   9781781259634
ISBN 10:   1781259631
Pages:   336
Publication Date:   01 February 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Alexander Boxer has a doctorate in physics from MIT, a master's degree in the History of Science from Oxford and a bachelors in Classical Language from Yale. His technical research has appeared in journals such as Nature Physics. He currently works as a senior scientist at a small technology company just outside of Washington, D.C. In his spare time, he is an active member of Atlas Obscura as a D.C.-based 'field agent'.

Reviews for A Scheme of Heaven: Astrology and the Birth of Science

Enthusiastic, level-headed and with a good turn of phrase, [Boxer] leads his readers on an exhilarating trajectory. -- Andrew Lycett * Mail on Sunday * Wide-ranging and full of peculiar nuggets of information ... This is a book about a very human aspect of astrology - our desire to understand our fate - and its history, as well as the fallibility of data analysis, which is often far more subjective than it might seem at first glance. -- Fiona Lensvelt * Times * A delightful and utterly fascinating work of intellectual history. -- Joshua Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein Through striking diagrams and accessible explanations, Boxer shows us the impressive range of technology the ancients developed for tapping into astrology's predictive powers. This book demonstrates how impactful astrology is in everyday life-not through the influence of the stars, but rather through the deep scientific and cultural legacy that it so richly explores. -- Janelle Shane, author of You Look Like A Thing and I Love You a masterful synthesis-science, history, legends, literature, and an eye-opening exploration of the human penchant for pattern recognition. The book is full of wit and refreshing insight. I'll never look at a horoscope-or the night sky-in quite the same way again. -- David Baron, author of American Eclipse Boxer is a champion of intrepid thought. His learned book demonstrates how much we stand to gain by studying topics that just may be a little bit true. And a little truth, as Boxer shows, can change everything. -- Mitch Horowitz, PEN Award-winning author of Occult America A fresh and original introduction to astrology's long history and deep cultural reach. Open and inquisitive, Boxer combines the critical perspective of a modern data scientist with a historian's sympathetic eye for telling detail. The result is a vivid and unique delight -- Stephen Johnston, University of Oxford Educated in both the humanities and the sciences, Boxer is uniquely qualified to guide his readers into a fascinating story of mathematical complexity. The overarching theme of our human destiny is inspirational. -- Norman Austin, Emeritus Professor of Classics, University of Arizona Astrologers as the first and most ambitious quants and data scientists? Alexander Boxer's remarkable book reveals astrology's mathematical, scientific, historical, philosophical, and literary roots. He shows that astrology is not only an indispensable part of science history, but also springs from the same mixture of motives: the desire to control the world and to wonder about it. -- Robert P. Crease, author of The Workshop and the World A Scheme of Heaven is wide-ranging and full of peculiar nuggets of information ... This is a book about a very human aspect of astrology - our desire to understand our fate - and its history, as well as the fallibility of data analysis, which is often far more subjective than it might seem at first glance. -- Fiona Lensvelt * the Times *


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