The AIP Niels Bohr Library & Archives (NBLA) and the Center for History of Physics (CHP) rely on support from donors and funding institutions to continue established activities and to expand programs into new areas. The Avenir Foundation is a generous supporter of the NBLA and CHP, including endowments for the Director positions of both programs, funding to support oral history interviews, the expansion of the NBLA digital collections activities, as well as support for the acquisition of rare books and other materials, such as the Wenner Collection of rare books and publications. Avenir has also provided essential support for the preservation and research facilities at the NBLA, beginning with the construction of a new rare books and archives vault, continuing with remediation of the environmental conditions in the existing archives and book stacks, and eventually, a future renovation of the NBLA reading room. This series of gifts honors the legacy of Homer Dodge, a physicist educator who impacted the lives of many budding physicists, and founding member and first President of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). The Avenir Foundation, founded by descendants of Homer Dodge, supports educational, arts, and cultural activities.
We’re so excited to be able to partner with the Avenir Foundation, and their support has enabled us to grow our collection in ways that were previously unimaginable. With the support of the Avenir Foundation, the NBLA was able to purchase the following books in the past year:
Petrus Apianus was a German natural philosopher in the early 16th century and a favorite of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. This is an abridgement of Apianus’s more famous Cosmographicus Liber, a very influential early work on cosmography, or the mapping of the Earth and its place in the universe.
Bacon, Roger. Perspectiva. In Qua, quae ab aliis fuse traduntur, succincte, nervose et ita pertractantur, ut omnium intellectui facile pateant. Nunc primum in lucem edita opera et studio Johannis Combachii. 1614
Roger Bacon wrote Perspectiva in the 13th century and it became the foundation for the study of light and vision, which he called “perspectiva,” which was later known as optics in Europe.He based much of his knowledge on the study of existing Greek and Arabic works on optics. This particular edition was updated by Johannes Combach, a professor of philosophy and theology in Germany.
Bassi, Laura. ‘De Problemate Quodam Hydrometrico,’ pp. 61-73. [With:] ‘De Problemate Quodam Mechanico,’ pp. 74-79 and one plate. In: De Bononiensi Scientiarum et Artium Instituto atque Academia Commentarii, Tomus quartus. 1757
Laura Bassi was the first woman science professor in Europe. She introduced Newtonian physics to Italy and researched a variety of topics: electricity, capillary action, Boyle’s law, lenses, and others. Her published research focused on problems of classical mechanics and hydrodynamics. The two papers in this volume are some of the only published papers of this extraordinary scientific mind.
Roger Cotes, colleague of a then-unknown upstart named Isaac Newton, jointly created these lectures with William Whiston. The lectures were unusual because Cotes and Whiston used practical demonstrations and had students conduct experiments outside of the lectures. In addition to the lectures, this work also includes the first English translation of Newton’s Law of Cooling and Edmond Halley’s “Account of the Rising and Falling of the Mercury in the Barometer, upon Change of Weather.” Cotes is most known for editing the second edition of Newton's Principia (1713).
Galilei, Galileo. Nov-antiqua sanctissimorum patrum probatorum theologorum doctrina, de Sacæ Scripturæ testimoniis, in conclusionibus mere naturalibus, quæ sensatâ experientiâ, & necessariis demonstrationibus evinci possunt, temere non usurpandis: In gratiam serenissimæ Christinæ Lotharingæ, magnæ-ducis Hetruriæ, privatim ante complures annos, italico idiomate conscripta à Galilaeo Galilaeo ... Nunc vero juris publici facta, cum latina versione italico textui simul adjuncta. (Letter to Christina). 1636
The Nov-Antiqua was originally written in 1615 and circulated in manuscript as a way to convince people of the compatibility between Copernicanism (i.e. the motion of the Earth) and scripture. Also known as the “Letter to Christina,” this is one of the most famous documents in the history of science, on par with Newton’s Principia. This document is also a focal point in the story of Galileo's struggles with the Church because of Galileo’s presumption in interpreting scripture. In this letter, Galileo argues that observation, and not Church doctrine, be the ultimate authority for knowledge of the natural world, writing: “I think that in discussions of physical problems we ought to begin not from the authority of scriptural passages but from sense-experiences and necessary demonstrations.”
Pierre Gassendi was a French Jesuit priest and an astronomer. His Institutio Astronomica has been called the first modern astronomy textbook. This volume also includes two significant works of the period. The first is Galileo's Sidereus Nuncius or Starry Messenger, the first published scientific work based on telescopic observations. Galileo records his observations on the moon, the stars, and his discovery of Jupiter’s moons. The second work included is Kepler's Dioptrice, an explanation of how convex and concave lenses can be combined to produce a telescope like the one Galileo used to make his observations.
Kircher, Athanasius. Phonurgia Nova sive Conjugium mechanico-physicum artis & naturae paranympha phonosophia concinnatum. quâ universa sonorum natura, proprietas, vires effectuúm[que] prodigiosorum causæ, novâ & multiplici experimentorum exhibitione enucleantur : instrumentorum acusticorum, machinarúm[que] ad naturæ prototypon adaptandarum, tum ad sonos ad remotissima spatia propagandos, tum in abditis domorum recessibus per occultioris ingenii machinamenta clam palámue sermocinandi modus & ratio traditur, tum denique in bellorum tumultibus singurlaris hujusmodi organorum usus, & praxis per nouam phonologiam describitur. 1673
Athanasius Kircher was a German Jesuit and polymath who had a range of interests from deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics, epidemiology and the study of microorganisms, volcanoes, fossils, and the invention of the megaphone. Kircher’s Phonurgia Nova is a beautifully bound and illustrated book and the first printed work that was entirely devoted to acoustics. Throughout the book are illustrations of various novel musical instruments, as well as a response to Sir Samuel Morland, a fellow of the Royal Society of London who also claimed to have invented the megaphone. “The 'Phonurgia' treats the science and applications of sound amplification and echoes”*In addition to his defense of his invention, he also discusses other inventions, like talking statues, eavesdropping devices, and various contortions possible in tuba shape.
This book is particularly photogenic, so please check out the photo gallery at the end of the blog to see more!
Milutin Milankovic, a Serbian astronomer and geophysicist, helped found planetary climatology. In this work, he explains his theory of the now-famous and eponymous Milankovitch Cycles, which are cyclical changes in a planet’s climate caused by the variations in its orbit which result in variations in solar radiation reaching the Earth. Milankovic’s theory helped explain the ice ages as well as future climate change, though, after his death in 1958, much of his work was disputed. It wasn’t until the 1970s that scientists were able to show evidence supporting the existence of Milankovitch Cycles.
This is the second edition of Hieronumus Salius’s edition of Ptolemy’s Quadripartitium, which was first printed in Venice in 1493. The Quadripartitium, meaning “four books” in Latin, is a treatise on astrology written in the second century CE after he wrote the Almagest . The Quadripartitium, includes a discussion of the technical concepts of astrology, as well as astrological geography and weather prediction, and even astrological influences on people. (Probably more like the astrology we’re familiar with today, that pesky Mercury is always in retrograde!)
Wilkins, John. A discovery of a new world, or, A discourse tending to prove, that 'tis probable there may be another habitable world in the moon: with a discourse concerning the probability of a passage thither : unto which is added, A discourse concerning a new planet, tending to prove, that 'tis probable our earth is one of the planets : in two parts. 1684
John Wilkins was a founder of the Royal Society and a patron of science and scholarship. He was a great supporter of the “new” science of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo, and used A Discovery to further popularize those ideas. In particular, he theorizes that the moon might support life, much like Earth. He discusses in detail the problems of traveling to the moon by “flying chariot” and imagines human colonies on the moon.