Andrew Shiva’s image of the Prague Astronomical Clock.
Andrew Shiva’s image of the Prague Astronomical Clock.

Cosmic Queries – Medieval Science and History

Photo Credit: Andrew Shiva/Wikipedia.
  • Free Audio
  • Ad-Free Audio
  • Ad-Free Video

About This Episode

When you think Middle Ages, does scientific advancement pop into your head? On this episode of StarTalk Radio, we’re exploring the science and history of medieval times as Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Matt Kirshen answer fan-submitted Cosmic Queries with Seb Falk, Cambridge Historian of Science and author of The Light Ages: The Surprising Story of Medieval Science.

Quite a lot happened during the Middles Ages and we start with a brief history. Seb tells us how incremental improvements to science occurred during this time. Find out how science functioned in an age of mysticism and miracles. We discuss “natural magic.” Discover more about the storytelling of medieval maps.

We explore the invention of the mechanical clock. You’ll investigate the importance of monasteries for educational thinking and how they led to the establishment of medieval universities. Seb explains why, despite common misconceptions, biblical literalism was not popular during the Middle Ages and is a fairly new idea.

You’ll learn about the transition from Roman numerals to Hindu-Arabic numerals. How important was the cosmos during medieval times? Seb tells us why the real science was happening amongst astronomers. Lastly, we contemplate the lessons that can be learned from studying the past. All that, plus, we ask, is science intuitive to our species?

Thanks to our Patrons Trumpet Wom’, Xavier Sims, Rhys Smith, Michael Fournier, Saawan Patel, Gary Wight, Chris K Samuel, Carson Haynes, Adrian Hernandez, and Sanchit Monga for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

About the prints that flank Neil in this video:

“Black Swan” & “White Swan” limited edition serigraph prints by Coast Salish artist Jane Kwatleematt Marston. For more information about this artist and her work, visit Inuit Gallery of Vancouver.

Seb Falk headshot by Jason Bye.

In This Episode

Get the most out of StarTalk!

Ad-Free Audio Downloads
Ad-Free Video Episodes
Stickers & Mugs
Live Streams with Neil
Priority Cosmic Queries
Early-Access Videos
Learn the Meaning of Life
...and much more

Episode Topics