Hugh Aldersey-Williams brilliantly reveals the untold story of the Huygens family, movers and shakers of the Dutch Golden Age.
Christiaan Huygens was an inventor, observer and thinker. The first person to use mathematical theory to solve scientific problems, he paved the way for modern science methodology. He invented the telescope that discovered Saturn’s ring, the clock mechanism that we still use today and actively encouraged the international sharing of these ideas in an age when scientists kept their discoveries close.
Christiaan came from a family of multi-talented individuals whose circle included not only leading figures of Dutch society, but artists and philosophers too, such as Rembrandt and Descartes. They lived in a period where science was equal to art and where both those disciplines sought to understand light. Dutch artists used scientific perspective to give their paintings a depth hitherto not seen, Dutch engineers ground lenses into optical devices to aid vision, and the Huygens were a family determined to master, not just practice, these skills.
Dutch Light is a beautifully written, narrative portrait of a place and time in science, a period that saw an unprecedented expansion of ideas that changed our understanding of the world. Hugh Aldersey-Williams vividly weaves together the contributions of a number of personalities, connected by family as much as by scientific sympathies.