Questioning The Millennium
Stephen Jay Gould examines the phenomenon of the millennium. He looks at the origins of the term in the Biblical prophecies of the Book of Revelation - if the six ages of man date from 4000BC, will 2000AD signify the end of time? Gould describes how the meaning of the word has evolved to its present day usage and tackles the debate over whether the millennium ends in 1999 or at the end of 2000AD. He also questions the human compulsion to impose our time-schemes on the universe and wonders how far can we go in applying our mathematical principles to nature. Existing methods of calculating time are all flawed to some extent and yet the complexities of lunar months, leap years, and the calculation of dates such as Easter, are part and parcel of our fascination with calendrics as both a hobby and an occupation.
Praise for Questioning The Millennium
Questioning the Millenium tackles our eternal fascination with round-numbered years from a whole range of historical, philosophical and scientific viewpoints...If you are going to buy one millennial stocking filler, but this one.David Jessel, Scotland on Sunday
Gould not only enriches the texture of his writing with each successive phase...He would not be the great science writer that he is if he were not also a great humanist.Marek Kohn, New Statesman
Gould's personal interest is as exuberant and authentic as ever, and one good reason for it is offered by an epilogue which both fascinates and touches, and is best left as a surprise.Michael Viney, Irish Times
The approach of the millenium elicits all those responses in Stephen Jay Gould which make him today's finest spokesman for the joys of science. The rationalist in him is horrified yet fascinated by the tradition of "Apocalypse soon" prophecies...What is clear from this splendid book - crisp, clever and chirpy as ever - is that Stephen Jay Gould will go down as one of the real turns of the century.Roy Porter, Independent