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On the Shoulders of Giants: Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton

Isaac Newton's three-volume opus magnum, Principia Mathematica, published in 1687, is generally considered to be the greatest contribution to science by a single individual in the history of humanity. There were scientists prior to Newton, but science per se did not exist as a well-delineated approach to understanding Nature. "Principia" not only gave us the calculus, the laws of motion, and the theory of gravitation; it laid solid philosophical foundations for modern science. The Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the Space Age, and the Information Age all followed in rapid succession. In a moment of humility, Newton admitted: "If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." This course will present biographies of each of those giants--Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler--and discuss how the scientific legacy of each informed Newton and shaped our present.

Suggested Reading: The following are recommended, but not required: "Galileo's Daughter" by Dava Sobel (Walter & Company, New York, 1999), "Kepler's Witch" by James A. Connor (Harper SanFrancisco, 2004), "Coming of Age in the Milky Way" by Timothy Ferris (Perennial, 1988), "Reason and Wonder" by Dave Pruett (Praeger, 2012).

Instructor: Dave Pruett, a former NASA researcher, is professor emeritus of mathematics at JMU. Dave has been lauded for excellence in both teaching and research. He is the author of "Reason and Wonder: A Copernican Revolution in Science and Spirit", a "love letter to the cosmos" that recently garnered an American Library Association Choice Award.


Payment Information: Payment is due at time of registration and must be made by credit card (AMEX, MasterCard, Visa and Discover.) There is a $5 credit card convenience fee assessed at the time of payment. You will be redirected to the payment web site after clicking submit. Please have your credit card ready. Once payment is successfully completed, you will receive a payment receipt and a registration confirmation by email.

Withdrawal/Refund Policy: You may cancel your registration up to one week before the class start date, and receive a full refund (minus any credit card processing fees.) After that date, no refunds will be given.

For registration questions, please contact Lifelong Learning Institute at or 540/568.2923.

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