In this book, Ferris takes us on the journey of astronomical thinking: Aristotle’s geocentric approach, the ptolemaic model, Newton’s laws of motion, Eisntein’s revolutionary e=mc2, Hubble Space Telescope, etc. Every chapter helps us understand that, as scientists develop their approaches, every small scientific step is but one giant leap for mankind.
Ferris explains us thinkers had to distance themselves from the perfectionist approach of Plato to go towards confronting ideas to facts and reality. Discovering the Earth is a sphere or understanding the distance between the Sun and the center of the Milky Way is done by the combination of two things: observation and concrete experimentation. This is where the book gets really interesting. We discover so many wrong ideas that dictated science until someone could prove by experimentation they were misleading. The main way to prove so is by using and developing technology. Thus, the book does more than only drawing the map of men’s knowledge on the skies. It is a book on how humans have always built themselves technical frames of thought to understand the world and deal with their own fragility.
Technology is the lens humans have always used to try to make sense of who they are and why they are here. Scientists have spent years developing telescopes lenses or mercury thermometers before they could use them to read reality properly and make sense with it. Until recently in history, humans were using technology mainly to try to understand the celestial word and nature. Nowadays, technology is not only used by scientists, it forms the daily framework of the majority of us. Almost every gesture we make now depends on it. In between the stars and us, it feels like there is now a meta reality that has been constructed with technology. We humans have now created a virtual interconnected celestial world and it is through this world we are now trying to live our lives. Is technology still helping us to comprehend reality or has it built a reality of its own? Ferris books does a great job at explaining how technology has helped us understand nature. But does technology still do so? Or is it bringing us further from it? I do not understand the mechanics of the universe, but I really appreciate I can navigate it though. Where is technology leading us to?