Library hosts exhibition of centuries-old Newton books in honor of Dean Ward
RELEASED: March 9, 2006
DANVILLE, KY"Isaac Newton and the Scientific Revolution," an exhibition of books from the collection of Dr. and Mrs. Ted Steinbock, is on display at the Grace Doherty Library on the Centre College campus. The exhibit, the first for the Thomas A. Spragens Rare Book Room, is in commemoration of the coming retirement of professor John Ward, vice president and academic dean. After an opening reception last Thursday, March 2, it runs through the end of the semester. (Exhibition catalog available for download.)
Expressing his delight at the exhibit, which includes an edition of Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium published in1566, Dean Ward says: "What a wonderful display of the early works that informed the scientific revolution in Europe! Dr. Steinbock has made the actual texts that taught 17th- and 18th-century scientists how the world really worked available to visitors to the Doherty Library. These authors, Isaac Newton most notably, embodied the spirit of a liberal education, expressing their interest in matters mathematical, spiritual, physical and astronomical, among others—these were men of great intellectual curiosity. The Spragens Rare Book Room in the newly renovated library could not have a more remarkable and instructive first exhibition. We are all indebted to Dr. Steinbock for generously sharing part of his extensive collection and for preparing such an elegant and authoritative catalog to describe the exhibit."
"I'd wondered," says Milton Reigelman, Cowan Professor of English, "if Centre could find a book exhibit that would do justice in honoring the distinguished work of John Ward and the splendid new Spragens Rare Book Room and Archives. This is it."
"The handsome and extensive catalog that Dr. Steinbock wrote is the only exhibition catalog I've ever sat down and read straight through," adds Reigelman. "It tells the story of our intellectual history from Copernicus to Benjamin Franklin in a compelling fashion—and then you look up and the actual books that marked these advances are literally right there before your eyes."
Steinbock, chairman of the department of radiology at Louisville's Baptist Hospital East, is an avid collector and connoisseur in a variety of areas related to American decorative arts and history. A student of colonial New England, he has one of the largest private collections of 17th and 18th century Puritan literature, including both editions of the Eliot Indian Bible, manuscript sermons, the poetry of Anne Bradstreet, and extensive works by Increase and Cotton Mather. Other areas of Steinbock's book-collecting interest include the classics of medicine. In addition to his Newton collection, he has a comprehensive assemblage of the works of Robert Boyle and other members of the Royal Society.
"An exhibition of books in the Centre College library is uniquely suited for telling the story of Isaac Newton and the Scientific Revolution," writes Steinbock, "for it was, first and foremost, initiated and inspired by books. The printed works of Newton and his followers and contemporaries created and communicated exciting scientific theories and discoveries throughout the Western world. Newton himself had an extraordinary breadth of intellectual inquiry ranging from mathematics to theology, from mechanics to music, and from astronomy to alchemy. He had a profound affect on astronomy, physics, mathematics, biology, chemistry, medicine and even theology. These nascent fields were, in fact, viewed together as natural philosophy—the systematic examination of the structure of nature. The Newtonian approach to experimental procedure and scientific inquiry was perhaps just as important as its ultimate establishment of fundamental natural laws that govern both dust particles and planets."On a personal note, Steinbock says, "A most enjoyable byproduct of the exhibit has been the enthusiastic meetings and conversations with President John Roush and Professor Milton Reigelman embellished by lunch at Cambus-Kenneth Farm, home of Elizabeth and Michael Burns. Stan Campbell, Director of Library Services, has helped in the book display. Having known many Centre alumni over the years, I have always admired their universal attachment to their alma mater, and I now understand at least a portion of that sentiment. My recent experience with the Centre faculty and staff provides true insight into the meaning of a liberal arts education."
The catalog for Isaac Newton and the Scientific Revolution can be downloaded in three parts. (The files are rather large, and in .pdf format, so you'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view them).
Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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