The Scientific Revolution

Galileo's World at a Glance | Gallery at the Exhibit Website
Location: Schusterman Library, University of Oklahoma, Tulsa.
What is nature? How is nature known?

When Galileo announced that “mathematics is the language of nature,” he was making a then-controversial claim about how nature is best known and understood. Mathematics encompassed rich traditions in art and perspective drawing, innovations in musical theory, as well as advances in engineering and mechanics. These discoveries depended upon a rich cultural context that drew science, art, literature and a spirit of creativity together in Renaissance Florence. The Galileo’s World exhibition invites us to participate in a similar Renaissance of discovery at the University of Oklahoma for our 125th anniversary.

Renaissance of Discovery

This exhibit samples a variety of works which represent the comprehensive scope of subject areas and modes of inquiry in the Scientific Revolution and at OU today. They illustrate the motto of Tycho Brahe: “Looking up, I look down.” By this phrase, Tycho referred to the interconnectedness of inquiries, as he himself sought to coordinate the study of astronomy with chemistry and medicine. In addition to those fields, the works sampled here show the connections of scientific inquiry with art, literature, law and political science, geology, biology, mathematics, meteorology, women and science, business and economics, and education.

1. Tycho Brahe and Elias Morsing, Diarium astrologicum (Uraniborg, 1586), "Astronomical Journal"
2. Giovanni Paolo Gallucci, Theatrum mundi (Venice, 1588), ”Theatre of the World"
3. Bernardino Baldi, Cronica de Matematici (ca. 1596), ms., ”Chronicle of Mathematics"
4. Giambattista della Porta, De furtivis literarum notis (Naples, 1563), "On Secret Writing"
5. Adriaan Metius, De genuino usu utriusque globi tractatus (Franeker, 1624), "Treatise on the Genuine Use of the Globes"
6. Fortunio Liceti, Litheosphorus, sive, De lapide Bononiensi lucem (Udine, 1640), "Phosphorescent Rock, or, On the Light of the Bolognese Stone"
7. Niels Steno, Canis carchariae dissectum caput, appendix to Elementorum myologiae specimen (Florence, 1667), "Dissection of the Head of a Shark"
8. Levinus Vincent, Wondertooneel der Nature (Amsterdam, 1706-1715), "Wonder Chambers of Nature"
9. Maria Sybilla Merian, Erucarum ortus (Amsterdam, 1717), "The Caterpillar Garden"
10. Leonardo da Vinci, Traite de la Peinture (Paris, 1716), 2d ed., "Treatise on Painting"
11. Euclid, The Elements of Euclid (London, 1847), ed. Oliver Byrne, "The Elements of Euclid"
12. John P. Finley, Tornadoes: What they are and how to observe them (New York, 1887)

Further reading:
  • Stillman Drake, Galileo: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2001; originally printed 1983 in the Past Masters series), discussion guide.
  • Dava Sobel, Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love (Walker, 1999)
  • Maurice Finocchiaro, The Essential Galileo (Hackett, 2008)
Curators: Kerry Magruder and Brent Purkaple. Links are to the exhibit website, For more information, download the comprehensive, free Exhibit Guide from the iBook Store. Open Educational Resources are available at and ShareOK.