This book is about how poets, philosophers, storytellers, and scientists have described motion, beginning with Hesiod, who imagined that the expanse of heaven and the depth of hell was the distance that an anvil falls in nine days. The reader will learn that Dante's implicit model of the earth implies a black hole at its core, that Edmond Halley championed a hollow earth, and that Da Vinci knew that the acceleration due to Earth's gravity was a constant. There are chapters modeling Jules Verne's and H.G. Wells' imaginative flights to the moon and back, analyses of Edgar Alan Poe's descending pendulum, and the solution to an old problem perhaps inspired by one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It blends with equal voice romantic whimsy and derived equations, and anyone interested in mathematics will find new and surprising ideas about motion and the people who thought about it.
Andrew J. Simoson is chairman of the mathematics department at King College in Bristol, Tennessee. He is also a member of the MAA and has twice been a Fulbright professor.