Alexander Boxer – A Scheme of Heaven


Humans are pattern-matching creatures, and astrology is our grandest pattern-matching game. In this ingenious work of history, data scientist Alexander Boxer examines a treasure trove of esoteric classical sources to expose the deep imaginative framework by which – for millennia – we made sense of our fates.

Astrology, he argues, was the ancient world’s most ambitious applied mathematics problem, a grand data-analysis enterprise sustained by some of history’s most brilliant minds, from Ptolemy to al-Kindi to Kepler.

Despite a resurgence in popularity, horoscopes are generally considered to be pseudoscience today, but they were once a cutting-edge scientific tool. Boxer explores their extraordinary subtleties and tells the stories of their inventors and most influential exponents. And he puts them through their paces using modern data sets – finding that the methods of today’s scientists are often uncomfortably close to those of astrology’s ancient sages.

Author: Alexander Boxer
Narrator: Peter Noble
Duration: 9 hours 38 minutes
Released: 20 Sep 2001
Publisher: Hachette Audio UK
Language: English

User Review:

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This is a very light tone, very high level survey of a very wide range of symmetries in physics. This was a pleasant listen, but I did not learn a lot nor where there novel ideas that got me thinking, thus I ended up a bit disappointed. It was a nice for a very high level survey, but I am not sure what audience would appreciate this level of detail. It seems to me a lot of background in needed to understand a number of the symmetries but the book seems targeted at a pretty low level of knowledge. The author mentions the Twin Paradox and notes that the Twin Paradox is often misunderstood but then just drops it (why bring it up at all?). I wish he had explained how such a twin experiment would actually work, which has been misstated so many times, even scientists are confused about what really would happen. The narration was excellent with a wonderful light tone and a clear love of science that bubbled through. So, although there was a lot right and there is little wrong with this book, I did not quite find it worth the listen.