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During the 17th century, the debate over the true world system (sistema mundi) was essentially between the heliocentric and geo-heliocentric models. Comparisons were made between tables that recorded more and more celestial observations in various printed astronomical works. Giovanni Battista Riccioli’s Almagestum novum (1651) provides an excellent example of how tables were used. Riccioli wanted to find the best hypothesis (hypothesis absoluta) with the help of a rigorous database from which he could proceed to make mathematical deductions. Tables in early modern astronomical books were important because they showed the results of observations. Presented in a clear way they became persuasive visual arguments.

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In: Nuncius
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Critical junctures in the historical development of science owe their origins to ideas, concepts, and theories that became definitive in the minds of leading scientists who lived in a more or less religious culture. Scientists are never solitary, but always internal to a network of scientific relationships and friendships. They have a well-attested genius, nurtured not only by their scientific training but also by ideas and stimuli received from the cultural and social contexts in which they lived. In particular, metaphysical and theological aspirations guided the genesis of many scientific ideas. This book offers twelve examples of the development of scientific ideas that were shaped by religious factors and which changed the course of science itself. The interwoven nature of science, philosophy, theology, and culture is pervasive in these cases, thus demonstrating that throughout the modern era, natural philosophy enjoyed a deep coherence with theology. That entanglement lingers in the minds of scientists into the contemporary period, and it continues to nourish scientific creativity in subtle and profound ways. New explanations of the world have emerged through illuminative, revolutionary and, one might say, divined ways.