DAVID A. TROMAN REVIEWS A SCIENTIFIC ESSAY.
The universe and all therein, from one singularity to another singularity, and the impossibility of infinity. What is God?
It would be tempting to think that a scientific essay written – with the intention of its place in the literary canon being that of a prose poem – in 1848 as having little reference to the modern world. Think again. This book is very relevant to our modern world.
It is not, by any means, an easy read. The language is that of the time in which it was written, and the sentence construction/grammar is consequently somewhat alien to modern readers, but its content is so intriguing that it would be a pity to be put off by such considerations.
Within the slightly over 100 pages of this book you will find theories of the formation of the universe, black holes (non-luminous suns) and some ideas that may seem odd as well: for example, the discussion of seventeen planets comprising the solar system, at a time before Pluto had been discovered and then discounted as a planet; an explanation of the formation of the planets and their satellites, and even a theory of the existence and nature of God. All this from a man who was justifiably famous for his poetic and fictional writings may cause the reader to wonder how much of this was intended as fiction too. My answer would be, none of it. These are the thoughts of a very active and enquiring mind. Although Poe suffered much of his life with health and alcohol addiction problems, the arguments presented in this work are cogent and worthy of considered thought for both their content and their presentation.
One of the most interesting arguments put forward here is that infinity is an impossible concept because there always has to be an end to anything that exists: an intriguing point of view. Poe also makes reference to the works of many other scientists in this essay and shows a wide-ranging knowledge, and deep understanding, of the works of Kepler, Newton and many more. His arguments for the necessary existence of a repulsive force to counteract the attractive force of gravity are compelling, even now that this is a known fact.
As Sir Patrick Moore says in his foreword to this edition, ‘Read this essay carefully. There is much more to it than meets the eye.’
This is a book that rewards many fold the time and thought invested in reading it and, as with so many things in life, the greater the investment, the greater the rewards.
– David A. Troman