A Scheme of Heaven (Hardback)

Astrology and the Birth of Science

Alexander Boxer

Our future really was written in the stars, but not in the way we guessed

'A delightful and utterly fascinating work of intellectual history.' Joshua Foer author of Moonwalking with Einstein

Despite a resurgence in popularity, horoscopes are generally considered to be pseudoscience today - but they were once a cutting-edge scientific tool. 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.

A Scheme of Heaven explores the wonderful subtleties of astrological ideas. Telling the stories of their inventors and most influential exponents, Boxer 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.

Publication date: 09/01/2020

£25.00

ISBN: 9781781259634

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: History & Classics, Science & Mathematics

A Scheme of Heaven (Ebook)

Astrology and the Birth of Science

Alexander Boxer

'A delightful and utterly fascinating work of intellectual history.' Joshua Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein

Despite a resurgence in popularity, horoscopes are generally considered to be pseudoscience today - but they were once a cutting-edge scientific tool. 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.

A Scheme of Heaven explores the wonderful subtleties of astrological ideas. Telling the stories of their inventors and most influential exponents, Boxer 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.

Publication date: 09/01/2020

£6.99

ISBN: 9781782834090

ISBN 10 / ASIN: B07KB8K18J

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: History & Classics, Science & Mathematics

A Scheme of Heaven (Audiobook)

Astrology and the Birth of Science

Alexander Boxer

Our future really was written in the stars, but not in the way we guessed

'A delightful and utterly fascinating work of intellectual history.' Joshua Foer author of Moonwalking with Einstein

Despite a resurgence in popularity, horoscopes are generally considered to be pseudoscience today – but they were once a cutting-edge scientific tool. 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.

A Scheme of Heaven explores the wonderful subtleties of astrological ideas. Telling the stories of their inventors and most influential exponents, Boxer 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.

Publication date: 09/01/2020

£19.99

ISBN: 9781782836957

ISBN 10 / ASIN: B08289X68Y

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: History & Classics, Science & Mathematics

A Scheme of Heaven (Paperback)

Astrology and the Birth of Science

Alexander Boxer

'A delightful and utterly fascinating work of intellectual history.' Joshua Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein

Despite a resurgence in popularity, horoscopes are generally considered to be pseudoscience today - but they were once a cutting-edge scientific tool. 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.

A Scheme of Heaven explores the wonderful subtleties of astrological ideas. Telling the stories of their inventors and most influential exponents, Boxer 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.

Publication date: 07/01/2021

£12.99

ISBN: 9781781259641

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: History & Classics, Science & Mathematics

Reviews for A Scheme of Heaven

'With Boxer's thought-provoking offering of playful experiments and vibrant historical anecdotes, A Scheme of Heaven will entice even the most ardent sceptic.'

Madeleine Pollard FT

'Unusual and refreshing ... Boxer's work is far from a rehabilitation of the 'wretched science'. He takes it for granted that, in a strict and contemporary sense, astrology is bullshit. From there, he proceeds to draw out the impressive conceptual and psychological legacy of astrology in modern scientific thinking. He suggests - without ever labouring the point - that we may wish to keep an eye on whether other more respectable modern sciences, data science in particular, may also sometimes incline towards bullshit. But just as important, in Boxer's hands astrology is a playground. Whether he is recreating ancient star charts or performing statistical tests on astrological claims, he does it because it's fun'

Claire Hall LRB

'Enthusiastic, level-headed and with a good turn of phrase, [Boxer] leads his readers on an exhilarating trajectory.'

Andrew Lycett Mail on Sunday

'Boxer takes a lively, non-judgemental approach in this intellectual history, tracing astrology back to its beginnings in ancient Egypt to its modern day renaissance, taking in 'astrosexuality', Henry VIII's birth horoscope, personality traits and new-age thinkers along the way. Essential reading for anyone interested in going beyond their horoscope.'

Francesca Carington Tatler

'Wide-ranging and full of peculiar nuggets of information ... This is a book about a very human aspect of astrology - our desire to understand our fate - and its history, as well as the fallibility of data analysis, which is often far more subjective than it might seem at first glance.'

Fiona Lensvelt Times

'A delightful and utterly fascinating work of intellectual history.'

Joshua Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein 

'Through striking diagrams and accessible explanations, Boxer shows us the impressive range of technology the ancients developed for tapping into astrology's predictive powers. This book demonstrates how impactful astrology is in everyday life-not through the influence of the stars, but rather through the deep scientific and cultural legacy that it so richly explores.'

Janelle Shane, author of You Look Like A Thing and I Love You 

'a masterful synthesis-science, history, legends, literature, and an eye-opening exploration of the human penchant for pattern recognition. The book is full of wit and refreshing insight. I'll never look at a horoscope-or the night sky-in quite the same way again.'

David Baron, author of American Eclipse 

'Boxer is a champion of intrepid thought. His learned book demonstrates how much we stand to gain by studying topics that just may be a little bit true. And a little truth, as Boxer shows, can change everything.'

Mitch Horowitz, PEN Award-winning author of Occult America 

'A fresh and original introduction to astrology's long history and deep cultural reach. Open and inquisitive, Boxer combines the critical perspective of a modern data scientist with a historian's sympathetic eye for telling detail. The result is a vivid and unique delight'

Stephen Johnston, University of Oxford 

'Educated in both the humanities and the sciences, Boxer is uniquely qualified to guide his readers into a fascinating story of mathematical complexity. The overarching theme of our human destiny is inspirational.'

Norman Austin, Emeritus Professor of Classics, University of Arizona 

'Astrologers as the first and most ambitious quants and data scientists? Alexander Boxer's remarkable book reveals astrology's mathematical, scientific, historical, philosophical, and literary roots. He shows that astrology is not only an indispensable part of science history, but also springs from the same mixture of motives: the desire to control the world and to wonder about it.'

Robert P. Crease, author of The Workshop and the World 

'A Scheme of Heaven is wide-ranging and full of peculiar nuggets of information ... This is a book about a very human aspect of astrology - our desire to understand our fate - and its history, as well as the fallibility of data analysis, which is often far more subjective than it might seem at first glance.'

Fiona Lensvelt the Times

'A Scheme of Heaven will make you fall in love with astrology, even as it extinguishes any niggling suspicion that it might actually work'

Simon Ings Spectator

'Fascinating ... his entertaining book explains fallacies that have given astrology unmerited credibility ... he also reveals how equivalent sloppiness may distort data science today.'

Jonathon Keats New Scientist

Alexander Boxer

Alexander Boxer

Alexander Boxer has a doctorate in physics from MIT, a master's degree in the History of Science from Oxford and a bachelors in Classical Language from Yale. His technical research has appeared in journals such as Nature Physics. He currently works as a senior scientist at a small technology company just outside of Washington, DC. In his spare time, he is an active member of Atlas Obscura as a D.C.-based 'field agent'.