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Hans Christian rsted - Dan Ch Christensen

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Hans Christian rsted - reading nature's mind
Dan Ch Christensen
Oxford University Press
UK Publication Date

Hans Christian rsted (1777-1851) is of great importance as a scientist and philosopher far beyond the borders of Denmark and his own time. At the centre of an international network of scholars, he was instrumental in founding the world picture of modern physics. rsted was the physicist who brought Kant's metaphysics to fruition. In 1820 his discovery of electro-magnetism, a phenomenon that could not possibly exist according to his adversaries, changed thecourse of research in physics. It inspired Michael Faraday's experiments and discovery of the adverse effect, magneto-electric induction. The two physical phenomena were later described in mathematical equations by J.C. Maxwell. Together these discoveries constitute the prerequisites for the overwhelmingdevelopment of modern technology. But rsted was also one of the cultural leaders and organizers of the Danish Golden Age (together with Grundtvig, Kierkegaard, and Hans-Christian Andersen, his proteg), and made significant contributions to aesthetics, philosophy, pedagogy, politics, and religion. rsted remarkably bridged the gap between science, the humanities, and the arts.

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Dan Charly Christensen worked as Lecturer and Reader within the Department of History at Roskilde University (1972-2010), Denmark. His two volume biography, Naturens Tankelser. En Biografi om Hans Christian rsted (Museum Tusculanum, Copenhagen 2009), was nominated for Weekendavisen's annual literary prize, and awarded the H.O. Lange Literary Prize by the Royal Library and Gad's Foundation.

In this powerhouse of a biography-cum-science-history, historian Dan Charly Christensen reveals rsted as a brilliant, multifaceted figure - scientist, post-Kantian philosopher, educator and physical aesthetician.


Best known for his epoch-making discovery of electromagnetism in 1820, the versatile Danish physicist H. C. rsted was also a cultural icon and an eminent representative of the Kantian-Romantic movement in the early nineteenth century. Only with Christensens impressively rich and detailed biography are readers presented with a full picture of rsted and his time, in which his scientific work is placed in its proper social and cultural context. Combining
meticulous scholarship with readability, Christensens book is a magnificent contribution to the history of science and culture that for decades will remain the authoritative biography of rsted.

Helge Kragh, Aarhus University

Reading Nature's Mind is a well-written and beautifully illustrated book. It is extraordinarily detailed and leaves the reader with a through understanding not only of rsted, but also of his contemporaries.

Nanna Katrine Luders Kaalund, Journal of BJHS

Few people know more about Hans Christian rsted than his "accidental" discovery of electromagnetism in 1820. Dan Ch. Christensen's definitive biography of rsted, now available in English, will change this. Christensen documents the intellectual and philosophical preparations that led to rsted's 1820 discovery and his response to the acclaim that followed. While this book is a "must read" for historians of science, its vivid descriptions of
intellectual life in the early 1800s will be equally fascinating to lay readers. Read it and enjoy it!

Andrew D. Jackson, Professor of Theoretical Physics, The Niels Bohr Institute

Keyword Index
Physicists - Denmark - Biography.
Country of Publication
Number of Pages
xix, 743

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