Synopses & Reviews
Humanity's epic struggle to determine a true and accurate year -- featuring the incredible story of how ten days once were lost.
Our present calendar predates the invention of the telescope and mechanical clock, modern numbers and the concept of zero -- and the calendar's development, which depends on all these things, is one of the great untold stories of science and history. In this irresistible volume, David Ewing Duncan takes us on an extraordinary journey through humanity's reckoning of time, from the earliest known calendars (a series of markings gouged into an eagle bone 13,000 years ago) to the atomic clocks of today, which measure time too accurately for an ever slowing Earth. The saga spans the world from Stonehenge to the Egyptian pyramids, from Mayan observatories to Pope Gregory's Rome. We visit cultures from Vedic India to Cleopatra's Egypt, Byzantium to the Elizabethan court, and we meet great historic personages such as Julius Caesar, Omar Khayyam, Galileo, Copernicus and Hawking. We see whole days vanish by papal and, later, royal decree to put the calendar right at last, and what this meant to the common folk. Along the way, Duncan answers -- and raises -- a host of fascinating questions about the nature of human timekeeping and the majestic historical forces that have produced the miracle that is the calendar.
-- There's a growing interest in the millennium, and nothing is as crucial to the year 2000 as the calendar and the scientist, monks, popes and rulers who have long sought to measure it and all dates accurately, with varying success.
The adventure spans the world from Stonehenge to astronomically aligned pyramids at Giza, from Mayan observatories at Chichen Itza to the atomic clock in Washington, the world's official timekeeper since the 1960s. We visit cultures from Vedic India and Cleopatra's Egypt to Byzantium and the Elizabethan court; and meet an impressive cast of historic personages from Julius Caesar to Omar Khayyam, and giants of science from Galileo and Copernicus to Stephen Hawking. Our present calendar system predates the invention of the telescope, the mechanical clock, and the concept ol zero and its development is one of the great untold stories of science and history. How did Pope Gregory set right a calendar which was in error by at least ten lull days? What did time mean to a farmer on the Rhine in 800 A.D.? What was daily life like in the Middle Ages, when the general population reckoned births and marriages by seasons, wars, kings reigns, and saints' days? In short, how did the world
About the Author
David Ewing Duncan is the author of five books, including the international bestseller Calendar, and writes for Wired, Discover, and The Atlantic Monthly. He is a freelance producer and correspondent for ABC's Nightline, and a commentator on NPR's Morning Edition. He also writes the popular "Biotech and Creativity" column for the San Francisco Chronicle. In 2003, he won the Magazine Journalism Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He lives in San Francisco, California.