Saturday, April 26, 2014

Science Saturday: The Science of Shakespeare

Interview with Dan Falk, science writer and the author of "The Science of Shakespeare."

Appropriate, as this year is the 450th anniversary of the Bard's birth. (By the way, Shakespeare fans: the RSC is taking Hamlet on tour to every country in the world this year and next to celebrate, so check their website to see if they're coming to a theater near you.)

Literary giant that Shakespeare was, he left little behind in terms of personal correspondence. Much of what we assume to be true about his personality and beliefs and so on comes to us either from other people's accounts or from interpretations of his plays. Falk's book examines Shakespeare through the lens of science at the time in order to better illuminate the man from Stratford's own understanding of, and relationship with, science. What references to contemporary scientific ideas can we find in his works? Which characters are making those references? What about settings, names, or more oblique references?

The interview talks in particular about my favorite Shakespeare play, the aforementioned Hamlet. Falk and others knowledgeable on the subject find Hamlet to be absolutely rife with references to scientific personages and ideas of the time, perhaps more so than any of his other plays. Did you know that Elsinore was where Tycho Brahe had his observatory?
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

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