Books That Inspire 2001

The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man's Changing Vision of the Universe
Arthur Coestler

Written by a transplanted Hungarian and vehement anti-Commuist, this book was recommended to me by one of my teachers to “keep me interested in science” while I was learning modern physics. It tells the story of how Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton replaced a closed cosmos centered on the earth with an infinite universe in which planets orbited the sun. For many historians this story is a triumph of reason over superstition, but Koestler emphasizes the personal, even irrational, contributions to the inspiration of great creative thinkers. This is the book in which I first encountered the historical figures that would lead me to OU’s History of Science Collections and the work I do today. It is still an exciting introduction to the history of science.
Peter Barker
Professor History of Science