"Medieval Physics in Oxford"

Location: St Cross College

Date: Saturday 27 February 2016

Time: 10:30 - 17:00


This conference is intended to challenge the commonly held view of the prolonged gap in the progress of Western civilisation's understanding of the natural world between the theories of the Ancient Greeks, led in particular by Aristotle and Plato, and the formation of the modern world view leading to the heliocentric theory of the Solar System and the theories of mechanics and gravity. These modern theories were in fact the result of centuries of empirical and theoretical work, which was conducted mainly in the universities of Europe and in particular at Oxford and which replaced in turn the Aristotelian world view of antiquity and then the literally biblical view of the Church. The conference will review the contributions of these medieval scholars working in Oxford and is intended to demonstrate the evolution of this activity from its theoretical, theological origins into the activity using mathematics and experimental observations which forms the basis of modern physics.

The programme for the day is below:

MORNING CHAIR: Professor Robert Iliffe (University of Oxford)

10.30 am WELCOME

 10.40 am Dr James Hannam (author of "God's Philosophers") - Medieval Physics at Oxford: Who, What and Why? [VIDEO]

11.30 am Dr Jack Cunningham (Bishop Grosseteste University) - Robert Grosseteste: The Oxford Years [VIDEO]

12.20 pm Brian Clegg (author of "The First Scientist: A Life of Roger Bacon") - Doctor Mirabilis: Roger Bacon’s Legend and Legacy [VIDEO]


AFTERNOON CHAIR: Dr Pierre Dechant (University of York)

2.15 pm Dr Allan Chapman (University of Oxford) - Friars, Physicists and Natural Philosophers in Medieval Oxford [VIDEO]

3.05 pm Professor Nicolas Weill-Parot (Université Paris-Est Créteil) - The Historical Meaning of Late Medieval Physics in Oxford [VIDEO]


4.30 pm SUMMARY OF THE DAY'S PROCEEDINGS - Professor Brian Tanner (Durham University) [VIDEO]

There will be a conference dinner at St Cross in the evening following the end of the conference with an after-dinner talk by Alan Ereira (scriptwriter for the BBC's Medieval Lives series).



This event is also sponsored by the Faculty of History, University of Oxford and by a grant-in-aid from the Center for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics.