Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I'm reading John Gribbin's Science, which has filled in all the gaps I never knew I had in my knowledge of Tycho Brahe - for instance, he had to wear a false nose, as did the Duke of Rochester, although one of them was reduced to it by a duelling injury, whereas the other had his nose fall off because of the pox.
My favourite historical figure has no nose.
How does he smell?

Although come to think of it, if you've been dead for a couple of hundred years, there probably won't be much stench, as everything will have rotted down. Sorry, Rochester and Brahe, to have said such things about you.

I've been reading it in a crowded MTR carriage on the way to work, which is unhelpful for concentration and occasionally gets me confused about whether I'm in a brutal, ignorant society or just reading about one. Aha! The jokes just keep coming today, like an effervescent fountain of jollity.

That's been plumbed into a container full of essence of smug arse.

I wonder what that smells like?


Ahem. Anyway, top of the jokers seems to be Bruna, who gets burned at the stake for being a heretic and saying the earth moves around the sun. But note the conjunction in that sentence; the cross chaps from the Inquisition with the kindling weren't so cross about somebody mucking around with heliocentric conceptions of the universe, so much as Bruna denying the divinity of Jesus. (Arianism, if you want to be specific.) I bet everyone felt really stupid about getting those things confused.

Or maybe not. Perhaps Bruna's prank of somehow conflating scientific thought and heresy in the public mind led to a bunch of scientists getting chased by people with firelighters and charcoal briquettes, because thats what we do with scientists/heretics, actually hasn't had very many beneficial consequences.

Although again, maybe a few less smug technocrats.

In closing, I'd like to misquote Blaise Pascal: I apologise for the length of this. I didn't have time to make it shorter. Ah, but Blaise, you didn't have AutoComplete or mail merge either, did you?


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