Michael J. Crowe, Ph.D.
(Cavanaugh Prof. Emeritus, Univ. of Notre Dame)
1.4 – The Mission (5.4.10)
1.5 – Closer Encounters (5.18.10)
3.1 – Aliens & the Old West (7.28.11)
3.11 – Aliens & the Founding Fathers (10.5.11)
A specialist in the history of modern physical science, Crowe has authored eight books. A graduate of PLS, he also served as its chair and was the founding chair of Notre Dame’s Graduate Program in History and Philosophy of Science. He has received funding awards from various sources, including the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and the National Science Foundation. In 2003, he served as Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the University of Louisville. In 2010, the American Astronomical Association awarded him its LeRoy E. Doggett Prize for Historical Astronomy in honor of his lifelong contributions to the history of astronomy. In conjunction with this prize, he presented a plenary address to the AAS. 
This book presents key documents from the pre-1915 history of the extraterrestrial life debate. Introductions and commentaries accompany each source document, some of which are published here for the first time or in a new translation. Authors included are Aristotle, Lucretius, Aquinas, Nicholas of Cusa, Galileo, Kepler, Pascal, Fontenelle, Huygens, Newton, Pope, Voltaire, Kant, Paine, Chalmers, Darwin, Wallace, Dostoevski, Lowell, and Antoniadi, among others. Michael J. Crowe has compiled an extensive bibliography not available in other sources.
These materials reveal that the extraterrestrial life debate, rather than being a relatively modern phenomenon, has extended throughout nearly all Western history and has involved many of its leading intellectuals. The readings also demonstrate that belief in extraterrestrial life has had major effects on science and society, and that metaphysical and religious views have permeated the debate throughout much of its history.
On October 16, 1843, Sir William Rowan Hamilton discovered quaternions and, on the very same day, presented his breakthrough to the Royal Irish Academy. Meanwhile, in a less dramatic style, a German high school teacher, Hermann Grassmann, was developing another vectorial system involving hypercomplex numbers comparable to quaternions. The creations of these two mathematicians led to other vectorial systems, most notably the system of vector analysis formulated by Josiah Willard Gibbs and Oliver Heaviside and now almost universally employed in mathematics, physics and engineering. Yet the Gibbs-Heaviside system won acceptance only after decades of debate and controversy in the latter half of the nineteenth century concerning which of the competing systems offered the greatest advantages for mathematical pedagogy and practice.
This volume, the first large-scale study of the development of vectorial systems, traces he rise of the vector concept from the discovery of complex numbers through the systems of hypercomplex numbers created by Hamilton and Grassmann to the final acceptance around 1910 of the modern system of vector analysis. Professor Michael J. Crowe (University of Notre Dame) discusses each major vectorial system as well as the motivations that led to their creation, development, and acceptance or rejection.
The vectorial approach revolutionized mathematical methods and teaching in algebra, geometry, and physical science. As Professor Crowe explains, in these areas traditional Cartesian methods were replaced by vectorial approaches. He also presents the history of ideas of vector addition, subtraction, multiplication, division (in those systems where it occurs) and differentiation. His book also contains refreshing portraits of the personalities involved in the competition among the various systems.
Teachers, students, and practitioners of mathematics, physics, and engineering as well as anyone interested in the history of scientific ideas will find this volume to be well written, solidly argued, and excellently documented. Reviewers have described it a s “a fascinating volume,” “an engaging and penetrating historical study” and “an outstanding book (that) will doubtless long remain the standard work on the subject.” In 1992 it won an award for excellence from the Jean Scott Foundation of France.
In a remarkably concise compass, Crowe presents, through actual examples, the fascinating story of how philosophers and scientists through the ages have tried to understand how things move. Included are substantial selections from the writings of Aristotle, Oresme, Descartes, Galileo, Huygens, Newton, and Einstein. The selections are furnished with extensive notes aimed at guiding nonspecialist readers through the texts. Introductory sections provide historical information that helps us understand and appreciate each chapter in the story, which Crowe aptly characterizes as the most remarkable story in all secular history. At the same time, Mechanics from Aristotle to Einstein is itself an intoduction to the foundations of mechanics. Examples and problems are provided to give a true hands on experience of these ideas and discoveries, which are fundamental to an understanding of both our physical universe and our civilization itself. Winner of the Choice Outstanding Academic Title award, 2009.
This newly revised edition of Professor Crowe’s accessible and enlightening book recreates one of the most dramatic developments in the history of thought: the change from an earth-centered to a sun-centered conception of the solar system. Written in a clear and straightforward manner, the work is organized around a hypothetical debate: Given the evidence available in 1615, which planetary system (Ptolemaic, Copernican, Tychonic, etc.) was most deserving of support?
Beginning with an introductory chapter on celestial motions, Dr. Crowe proceeds to a discussion of Greek astronomy before Ptolemy, mathematical techniques used by ancient astronomers, the Ptolemaic system, the Copernican and Tychonic systems, and the contributions of Kepler and Galileo. In an epilogue, quotes from writers, philosophers, and scientists reveal the impact of Copernican thought on their work. Easily within the reach of anyone with a background in high school mathematics, this absorbing study offers a sound introduction to our solar system and an opportunity to relive one of the most momentous periods in intellectual history.
This book provides an introduction to the fundamentals of stellar astronomy, a history of astronomy, and an account of how the science of astronomy challenged traditional philosophical and theological beliefs. Throughout the text are readings from the writings of scientists who contributed most significantly to the development of astronomy.