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Uncentering the Earth: Copernicus and The Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres
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Uncentering the Earth: Copernicus and The Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres (Great Discoveries)

3.15 of 5 stars 3.15  ·  rating details  ·  78 ratings  ·  14 reviews
In 1543, the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus lay on his deathbed, reportedly holding his just-published masterpiece, The Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, in his hands. Placing the sun at the center of the universe, Copernicus launched modern science, leading to a completely new understanding of the universe, and humanity's place within it.

But what did Copernicus
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 17th 2007 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 2006)
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Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

Every damn'd Vollmann angel. Voll=bracht.

 photo vollmann_zpsad916c5e.jpg
Joseph Nicolello
The negative reviews for this one are just outrageous, and each time I find myself sifting through another on this rainy day, I doubt that anyone's reading life is actually enhanced by this site. Vollmann is not to Copernicus as, say, Gabelentz was to the linguistic history of early Chinese emperors, though our dear Vollmann does a great, thorough job - he does the job of a reputable writer, scrupulous researcher, microscopically attentive - forever imitated, never matched. I cannot comprehend h ...more
Apr 05, 2013 Geoff marked it as to-read
A reviewer named Ross Cann (those two sets of twinned letters already make me suspicious) really piqued my interest in this with these statements from his .2. star review of this book: "The style of the prose is a kind of jocular flippancy which was very annoying to me. The author doesn't really understand the material and he as much as says so." Right on.
Phillip Ramm
The volubility of William T. Vollman is legendary. For one essay>novel he was he asked to make his sentences shorter: he replied that he couldn't write a short novel, let alone a short sentence. (Or words to that effect.) At least this text is a whisper under 300pg. Very pithy for Vollman. But the less than intellectual voice makes him both approachable and also off-putting for those who want a more scientific tome.

The other reviewers seem to either go slightly insane when praising him, or t
I have wanted to read Vollman for quite some time and I found this book, and 'Rising up and rising down' on the shelf in a small ceramic store on the coast of Sagres. Naturally, I had to buy them both (among some other ones (dang! that store had a good collection of cheap English books)). Now I think that I would appreciate his fictitious works more but this was a nice read nonetheless.

I have never been great with geometry so the parts in which Vollman introduces the reader to Copernicus way of
An absolutely necessarily confusing and heartbreaking account of scientific discovery, that's a great companion to, for example, "The Double Helix."
This book is not at all what I was looking for when I picked it off the library shelf, just browsing for a good book to read.
What I wanted was an explanation of how Copernicus managed to reason out that the sun is the center of the solar system, not the earth. Near the end of the book the author actually apologizes for not delivering what I was seeking.
Doing some research I learn that this book is one of a series written on the great scientific discoveries of history - but get this - written by
Bookmarks Magazine

Though Norton's Great Discoveries series intends to bring science to the general reader, Vollmann's measure of success in that endeavor proves as divisive as the theory he tries to explicate. Fresh from a National Book Award for his omnibus novel Europe Central (***1/2 July/Aug 2005), Vollmann claims amateur status as an astronomer and then busies his pages with intelligent, intricate readings of Copernicus's thought. Critics feeling he has done an admirable job beseech the reader to be patient:

This is an interesting book, and Vollman gets high marks for actually reading Copernicus (I tried once and gave up quickly). As part of a series of books on scientists by non-scientists, it is written at an appropriate level for someone like me. Vollman isn't interested so much in the science as he is in the place of Copernicanism in history. He notes often that astronomy has advanced so far that Copernicus seems quaint in his insistence on circular motion even with his heliocentric universe. Wh ...more
A weird little book explaining Copernicus's life's work. I admit I skimmed through a lot of the more technical details; if you are not geometrically inclined (I'm not), it's easy to get really lost as Vollmann regales you with all kinds of fun astronomical work - think lots of angles, arcs, and circles mapped against the night sky. Despite the density of that stuff, Vollmann keeps things lively and his sense of craft is as good as usual. If you're expecting a clear explication of the science or ...more
This is one in a series about scientific topics written by non-scientists. I thought going in that, because of that, the subject would be approachable and readable. I was very disappointed. Apart from the tone of the writing that I found somewhat smug and condenscending, gleaning anything interesting from the book just took way too much effort. I will take Timothy Ferris or Neil DeGraase Tyson (Real scientists writing about science) anyday.
Jesse K
I love Vollmann to death. My rating is honestly more indicative of my own failings than any inherent flaws in the book. I'm not really a science person. Consequently, this was a tough book to get through. I would really only recommend it to Vollmann obsessed people and those who didn't fall asleep in their science classes.
CRAP! I very rarely give up on a book - in fact this is only the 3rd book ever that I have given up on. Just not interesting or useful.
Painful. Glad that I am finished with it.
Jan 10, 2009 Fishsanwitt marked it as to-read
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William T Vollman...: 2006 Uncentering the Earth 2 18 Dec 26, 2014 03:00PM  
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William Tanner Vollmann is an American novelist, journalist, short story writer and essayist. He lives in Sacramento, California with his wife and daughter.

More about William T. Vollmann...

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  • A Force of Nature: The Frontier Genius of Ernest Rutherford
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