Robert Grosseteste and the Ordered Universe: Public Lectures

Date and time

3 Oct 2014 16:30 to 18:30


The Pichette Auditorium

All are welcome but online registration is required: click here

An interdisciplinary team of physicists, medievalists, Latin scholars and historians of science has embarked on a rich encounter with the great medieval English thinker Robert Grosseteste (1175-1253). We present work on three treatises in Grosseteste’s “scientific” cannon: The De luce (On light), the De colore (On colour) and the De iride (On the Rainbow).

Grosseteste’s cosmos is geocentric, but in the De luce he describes a unifying physics of light and matter so tightly that it can be translated into mathematics, with striking consequences. In the De colore he offers an explicit, mathematically three-dimensional framework to describe variations in perceived colour, and later in the De iride, he links these three dimensions of colour to the properties of natural rainbows.

By using medieval studies and modern science, the treatises can be interpreted in new, stimulating and more complete ways. Separated by eight centuries, the rich encounter between medieval and modern science highlights the enduring human quest to understand natural phenomena.

16.30   Forming the Body of the Cosmos: Robert Grosseteste’s ‘On Light’

Tom McLeish (Durham), Giles Gasper (Durham) and Richard Bower (Durham)

17.30   A Bridge Between Medieval and Modern Colour Science: Robert Grosseteste’s ‘On Colour’ and ‘On the Rainbow’

Hannah Smithson (Oxford), Giles Gasper (Durham) and Tom McLeish (Durham)

18.30-19.30     Drinks Reception


This event is part of a Pembroke College Mahfouz Forum - an inter-disciplinary research event convened by a Pembroke academic and kindly funded by Foundation Fellow HE Mahfouz bin Mahfouz.

Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln
Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln