Featured Books

Featured Book

The Nine Lives of John Ogilby:

Britain's Master Map Maker and His Secrets

Book by Alan Ereira

Alan Ereira is a man of many skills: traveller, documentary maker, writer and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. His latest book, The Nine Lives of John Ogilby, deals with one of the least known of the many remarkable people who flourished in England in the critical decades of the early seventeenth century.

Ogilby was born in 1600 and died in 1676, so he overlapped with Shakespeare's final years in his youth, and died before Newton published his great work. In between the country erupted into revolution and civil war. His own contribution, in a world in which people like Harvey were mapping the body, and Galileo and Kepler were mapping the universe, was to map the roads of Britain. Maps, of course, had been around for many centuries, but to the modern eye they are usually strangely distorted. In keeping with new developments in anatomy and astronomy, Ogilby created a new kind of map in which accuracy of measurement was the key, laying the foundation for a way of seeing the world which we now take totally for granted. This entry into the modern world contrasts with Ogilby's earlier experience dancing in the Revels at the Inns of Court in London, at a time when dancing was still considered a means of engaging with the harmony of the heavens.

And lastly, like so many educated people of the time, Ogilby consulted an astrologer. The specialist he went to was Elias Ashmole, who on several occasions also provided astrological advice to the king. Ereira is a consummate story-teller and his book a fascinating insight into the universe of seventeenth century England.

Alan Ereira, The Nine Lives of John Ogilby: Britain's Master Map Maker and His Secrets, London, Duckworth 2016.

Featured Book

The Ethics of Space Exploration, Basel

By James S.J. Schwartz and Tony Milligan

We currently appear to be heading towards a period of renewed human activity in space. Although there has been plenty of action on the International Space Station since its launch in 1998, there has been no attempt to travel elsewhere. Now that the Chinese are laying the foundations for a Moon landing and a clutch of private entrepreneurs are developing space tourism - and Elon Musk is planning trips to Mars - the ethics of space exploration is once again of vital interest.

The questions are few but important. Should we escape our destruction of the Earth by going into space? What happens if we mine the Moon and forever pollute the lunar atmosphere? What if we terraform Mars and destroy unknown, if minute, life. What about the weaponisation of space? And what are the risks of wiping out humanity by bringing back an alien microbe from a Jupiterian moon? The essays gathered together by James Schwartz and Tony Milligan range across do not represent for the first considerations of these problems: discussion of space ethics dates back almost to the beginning of the pace programme. But they do represent an authoritative discussion of the issues in relation to different kinds of ethics (the field is bedevilled by the pr0obem that what is ethical to one person may not be to another).

This book has exceptional value as both an introduction to the issues for the beginner, and as discussion of methodological issues across the entire field for those already familiar with the debates.

James S.J. Schwartz and Tony Milligan (eds), The Ethics of Space Exploration, Basel, Springer 2016

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