The Milky Way: An Elusive Road for Science
Jaki, Stanley L.
As early as the mid-eighteenth century, Kant and Lambert expressed surprise at the failure of eminent scientists and astronomers to recognize in the grindstone shape of the Milky Way a valid explanation for its contour in the night sky. Kant and Lambert reasoned independently as did Thomas Wright, frequently credited with originating this concept. It is probably that William Herschel was unfamiliar with the work of all three men when in 1784 and 1785 he read before the Royal Society his celebrated papers on the construction of the heavens.
That "unduly delayed" and fourfold "discovery" of the Milky Way within a single generation reflects the peculiar quality of its scientific history, a long series of inexplicable evasions and oversights, which has not, until now, been described in depth.
The Milky Way: An Elusive Road for Science offers the first comprehensive study of more than two thousand years of theory and surmise. The author includes much original and meticulously documented research based upon the writings of Greek philosophers, medieval scholars, Renaissance discoverers such as Galileo, and the modern scientists who succeeded Newton.
Throughout the book he emphasizes the curious reluctance of astronomers and scientists to concede the existence of major singularities in the cosmos—an attitude which greatly affected the erratic but fascinating history of speculation about the Milky Way. Astronomers, historians of science, and the general reader will find this account of the changing theories on the nature of the Milky Way a unique achievement. Dr. Jaki's original and surprising ideas, careful scholarship, and incisive, analytical evaluation of a long-neglected subject will undoubtedly make this the definitive reference work on the Milky Way's history for many years to come.