invention of the telescope

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pages: 1,197 words: 304,245

The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution by David Wootton


agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, British Empire, clockwork universe, Commentariolus, commoditize, conceptual framework, Dava Sobel, double entry bookkeeping, double helix,, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, germ theory of disease, Google X / Alphabet X, Hans Lippershey, interchangeable parts, invention of gunpowder, invention of the steam engine, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, knowledge economy, lone genius, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Philip Mirowski, placebo effect, QWERTY keyboard, Republic of Letters, spice trade, spinning jenny, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

The chapter goes on to reappraise what Thomas Kuhn called the Copernican revolution. As we will see, the Copernican revolution was delayed until the seventeenth century: very few sixteenth-century astronomers accepted Copernicus’s claim that the Earth revolves around the sun instead of standing still at the centre of the cosmos. The real revolution in astronomy came with Tycho Brahe’s nova, with the abandonment of belief in the crystalline spheres, and with the invention of the telescope. The key date is not 1543 but 1611. The title page of Johannes Stradanus’s New Discoveries (Nova reperta, c.1591) summarizes the knowledge that marks off the modern world from the ancient. Pride of place is given to the discovery of America and the invention of the compass, with, between them, the printing press. Also present are gunpowder, the clock, silk weaving, distillation and the saddle with stirrups. 3 Inventing Discovery Discovery is what science is all about – N.

But Gilbert understood that, seen from the moon, the Earth would shine like a vast moon; and that, seen from further away, it would shine like a star (here, he directly argued against Benedetti). The moon, he thought, had continents and oceans, just like the Earth. Like Bruno, he thought the oceans would be brighter than the land. He saw no reason why the other planets should not be just like the Earth.94 Gilbert drew, before the invention of the telescope, the first map of the moon, and as a result discovered its libration, the fact that it appears to turn slightly, up and down and from side to side, as it faces the Earth. This confirmed his conviction that the planets float freely in space. Moreover, Gilbert was the first to break completely with the notion that movement in the heavens must be circular: his planets trace complicated paths through the void; such a path could explain why the moon appears to wobble in the sky.

Only where weight was concerned was man not the measure. Man ceased to be the measure of all else only with the adoption of the metric system in France in 1799.46 The basic unit of measurement (from which volumes and weights were derived) became the metre, originally defined as one ten millionth of the distance from the equator to the North Pole. The metric system merely completed a process that had begun with the invention of the telescope, which definitively destroyed the idea that the universe was made on the same scale as man. § 5 According to orthodox Christian thinking (at least until Pascal), the universe had been made to provide a home for humankind. The sun was there to provide light and heat by day, the moon and stars light by night. There was a perfect correspondence between the macrocosm (the universe as a whole) and the microcosm (the little world of the human body).

pages: 404 words: 131,034

Cosmos by Carl Sagan


Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, clockwork universe, dematerialisation, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, germ theory of disease, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, music of the spheres, pattern recognition, planetary scale, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, spice trade, Tunguska event

When I saw that she took my words to heart, I would rather have bitten my own finger than to give her further offense.” But Kepler remained preoccupied with his work. He envisioned Tycho’s domain as a refuge from the evils of the time, as the place where his Cosmic Mystery would be confirmed. He aspired to become a colleague of the great Tycho Brahe, who for thirty-five years had devoted himself, before the invention of the telescope, to the measurement of a clockwork universe, ordered and precise. Kepler’s expectations were to be unfulfilled. Tycho himself was a flamboyant figure, festooned with a golden nose, the original having been lost in a student duel fought over who was the superior mathematician. Around him was a raucous entourage of assistants, sycophants, distant relatives and assorted hangers-on. Their endless revelry, their innuendoes and intrigues, their cruel mockery of the pious and scholarly country bumpkin depressed and saddened Kepler: “Tycho … is superlatively rich but knows not how to make use of it.

In the Somnium he tried to make the rotation of the Earth plausible, dramatic, comprehensible: “As long as the multitude does not err,… I want to be on the side of the many. Therefore, I take great pains to explain to as many people as possible.” (On another occasion he wrote in a letter, “Do not sentence me completely to the treadmill of mathematical calculations—leave me time for philosophical speculations, my sole delight.”*) With the invention of the telescope, what Kepler called “lunar geography” was becoming possible. In the Somnium, he described the Moon as filled with mountains and valleys and as “porous, as though dug through with hollows and continuous caves,” a reference to the lunar craters Galileo had recently discovered with the first astronomical telescope. He also imagined that the Moon had its inhabitants, well adapted to the inclemencies of the local environment.

Against the view that such great construction projects were unlikely, Kepler offered as counterexamples the pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China, which can, in fact, be seen today from Earth orbit. The idea that geometrical order reveals an underlying intelligence was central to Kepler’s life. His argument on the lunar craters is a clear foreshadowing of the Martian canal controversy (Chapter 5). It is striking that the observational search for extraterrestrial life began in the same generation as the invention of the telescope, and with the greatest theoretician of the age. Parts of the Somnium were clearly autobiographical. The hero, for example, visits Tycho Brahe. He has parents who sell drugs. His mother consorts with spirits and daemons, one of whom eventually provides the means to travel to the moon. The Somnium makes clear to us, although it did not to all of Kepler’s contemporaries, that “in a dream one must be allowed the liberty of imagining occasionally that which never existed in the world of sense perception.”

pages: 257 words: 66,480

Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life Beyond Our Solar System by Ray Jayawardhana


Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, cosmic abundance, dark matter, Donald Davies, Edmond Halley, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Kuiper Belt, Louis Pasteur, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, Pluto: dwarf planet, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Solar eclipse in 1919

There was little discussion of extraterrestrial life, with a few exceptions. The tide started to turn with the publication of Nicolas Copernicus’s infuential volume On the Revolutions of Celestial Bodies just before his death in 1543. He posited that the Sun occupied the center of the universe, thus displacing the Earth from its unique niche. But the true revolution occurred with the invention of the telescope at the beginning of the next century. Galileo’s 1610 discovery of four moons circling Jupiter proved the existence of heavenly bodies that did not orbit the Earth. He also showed that Venus exhibited a full set of phases, just like the Moon, as predicted by Copernicus’s Sun-centered model. Perhaps even more dramatic was the revelation from Galileo’s telescopic observations that the Moon was quite similar to the Earth in many ways.

These celestial alignments follow a precise cycle, with time intervals of 8.0, 121.5, 8.0, and 105.5 years in the case of Venus; Mercury transits are more frequent, with about a dozen or so per century. As Venus passes in front of the Sun, taking several hours to do so, it appears as a black dot about one-thirtieth the solar diameter. It’s big enough to be seen with the (properly protected) naked eye, but there are no records of a transit being observed before the invention of the telescope early in the seventeenth century. That’s not too surprising given the rarity of the event. In 1629 Johannes Kepler, as he investigated the laws of planetary motion, realized that transits of both Venus and Mercury would occur two years later. Unfortunately, he didn’t live to see either, and the Venus transit of 1631 was not visible from Europe in any case. But European astronomers were able to observe the transit of Mercury in November that year, vindicating Kepler’s prediction.

Yet Venus, with a broiling surface temperature of 400 degrees Celsius, a crushing surface pressure ninety times that of the Earth’s at sea level, and a carbon dioxide atmosphere that confrms our worst fears of the greenhouse effect, cannot sustain life as we know it. That’s why fnding, or even imaging, Earth-size planets elsewhere is one thing, but detecting life is quite another. Chapter 9 Signs of Life How Will We Find E.T.? Once the invention of the telescope showed that the Earth is but one world among many, it opened the serious prospect of life on other planets. The reconnaissance within our solar system has revealed some tantalizing hints but no defnitive evidence so far. Now that we are on the verge of fnding extrasolar worlds with conditions hospitable for life, the question has gained a new urgency. Guided by remote observations of the Earth, clues about how the solar system’s three large rocky planets have evolved, and theoretical models of planets in other stellar environments, scientists are fguring out how best to search for extraterrestrial life.

pages: 330 words: 99,226

Extraterrestrial Civilizations by Isaac Asimov


Albert Einstein, Cepheid variable, Columbine, Edward Charles Pickering, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, invention of radio, invention of the telescope, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

It was not for nearly 1,300 years, however, that a major writer dealt with the Moon again. This came in 1532 in Orlando Furioso, an epic poem written by the Italian poet Ludovico Ariosto (1474–1533). In it, one of the characters travels to the Moon in the divine chariot that carried the prophet Elijah in a whirlwind to Heaven. He finds the Moon well populated by civilized people. The notion of a plurality of worlds received still another push forward with the invention of the telescope. In 1609, the Italian scientist Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) constructed a telescope and pointed it at the Moon. For the first time in history, the Moon was seen magnified, and more clearly detailed than was possible with the unaided eye. Galileo saw mountain ranges on the Moon, together with what looked like volcanic craters. He saw dark, smooth patches that looked like seas. Quite plainly and simply, he was seeing another world.

Even more important was what happened when he looked through his telescope at the Milky Way. The Milky Way is a faint, luminous fog that seems to form a belt around the sky. In some ancient myths, it was pictured as a bridge connecting heaven and Earth. To the Greeks it was sometimes seen as a spray of milk from the divine breast of the goddess Hera. A more materialistic way of looking at the Milky Way, prior to the invention of the telescope, was to suppose it was a belt of unformed star matter. When Galileo looked at the Milky Way, however, he saw it was made up of myriads of very faint stars. For the first time, a true notion of how numerous the stars actually were broke in on the consciousness of human beings. If God had granted Abraham telescopic vision, the assurance of innumerable descendants would have been formidable indeed.

pages: 356 words: 102,224

Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space by Carl Sagan


Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, cosmological principle, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, germ theory of disease, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Kuiper Belt, linked data, nuclear winter, planetary scale, profit motive, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, telepresence

The low temperatures provide an advantage, though, because once molecules are synthesized on Titan, they tend to stick around: The higher the temperature, the faster molecules fall to pieces. On Titan the molecules that have been raining down like manna from heaven for the last 4 billion years might still be there, largely unaltered, deep-frozen, awaiting the chemists from Earth. THE INVENTION OF THE TELESCOPE In the seventeenth century led to the discovery of many new worlds. In 1610 Galileo first spied the four large satellites of Jupiter. It looked like a miniature solar system, the little moons racing around Jupiter as the planets were thought by Copernicus to orbit the Sun. It was another blow to the geocentrists. Forty-five years later, the celebrated Dutch physicist Christianus Huygens discovered a moon moving about the planet Saturn and named it Titan. † It was a dot of light a billion miles away, gleaming in reflected sunlight.

Still others suggested that the dense cloud of fine particles accompanying the fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 into Jupiter would disrupt the magnetosphere of Jupiter or form a new ring. A comet this size should impact Jupiter, it is calculated, only once every thousand years. It's the astronomical event not of one lifetime, but of a dozen. Nothing on this scale has occurred since the invention of the telescope. So in mid July 1994, in a beautifully coordinated international scientific effort, telescopes all over the Earth and in space turned towards Jupiter. Astronomers had over a year to prepare. The trajectories of the fragments in their orbits around Jupiter were estimated. It was discovered that they would all hit Jupiter. Predictions of the timing were refined. Disappointingly, the calculations revealed that all impacts would occur on the night side of Jupiter, the side invisible from the Earth (although accessible to the Galileo and Voyager spacecraft in the outer Solar System).

pages: 294 words: 87,986

4th Rock From the Sun: The Story of Mars by Nicky Jenner

3D printing, Alfred Russel Wallace, Astronomia nova, cuban missile crisis, Elon Musk, game design, hive mind, invention of the telescope, Kickstarter, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, placebo effect, Pluto: dwarf planet, retrograde motion, selection bias, silicon-based life, Skype, Stephen Hawking, technoutopianism

The idea that planetary orbits were not perfectly circular was a huge leap forward in planetary theory and in understanding the motions of Mars. Hail, children of Mars! Mars has been a key player in astronomy for millennia, due in large part to its proximity to Earth. While the more distant outer planets – Uranus, Neptune, the now-demoted Pluto – were only discovered following the invention of the telescope in the 1600s, the inner and nearby outer planets have always been visible with the naked eye, and so have been included as part of our Solar System models since the year dot. The invention of the telescope enabled us to characterise our nearest neighbours better than ever before. Many astronomers turned their eyes Mars-ward; Galileo Galilei, widely regarded as one of the fathers of the telescope, is thought to have observed the planet from 1608 to 1610, completing some of the very first telescopic views of Mars.

pages: 412 words: 122,952

Day We Found the Universe by Marcia Bartusiak


Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, California gold rush, Cepheid variable, Copley Medal, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, horn antenna, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, Occam's razor, Pluto: dwarf planet, Solar eclipse in 1919, William of Occam

From the days of Ptolemy, astronomers talked about certain stars in the sky that appeared “cloudy” to the eye. The most famous is in the northern constellation Andromeda, the mythical princess situated in the sky near her parents, Cassiopeia and Cepheus, and her husband, Perseus. At her waist is an oval patch of light, best seen on the darkest of nights. As early as the tenth century, astronomer Al-Sufi of Persia noted it as a “little cloud” in his catalog of the heavens. With the invention of the telescope more nebulae were sighted, and by the early 1700s Edmond Halley (of comet fame) counted six in all. To some observers, these pale entities were breaks in the celestial sphere, through which the light of the Empyrean—the highest heaven—came shining down. Others suggested that they were the hazy atmospheres surrounding distant stars. Halley, however, thought of them as unique celestial objects, unlike anything else in the heavens.

They instead turned up at the Lowell Observatory, Lick Observatory's long-standing competitor located in northern Arizona. My Regards to the Squashes Roman god. Bringer of War. Fourth planet from the Sun. Astronomers eager to solve the spiral nebulae dilemma had Mars, strangely enough, to thank for a further step toward an answer—at least in a roundabout way. The red planet, with its vivid ruby luster, has fascinated stargazers for millennia, but interest grew even more intense after the invention of the telescope. With the extra magnification astronomers could at last discern markings on the surface of Mars. Bright patches around its poles, similar in appearance to our own planet's arctic and antarctic regions, were seen to wax and wane with the Martian seasons. So Earthlike was this behavior that by 1784 William Herschel was reporting that Mars “is not without a considerable atmosphere … so that its inhabitants probably enjoy a situation in many respects similar to ours.”

pages: 204 words: 58,565

Keeping Up With the Quants: Your Guide to Understanding and Using Analytics by Thomas H. Davenport, Jinho Kim


Black-Scholes formula, business intelligence, business process, call centre, computer age, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap,, feminist movement, Florence Nightingale: pie chart, forensic accounting, global supply chain, Hans Rosling, hypertext link, invention of the telescope, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, margin call, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Myron Scholes, Netflix Prize, p-value, performance metric, publish or perish, quantitative hedge fund, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, six sigma, Skype, statistical model, supply-chain management, text mining, the scientific method

Although born to a poor family under adverse circumstances, Kepler was lucky enough to acquire very precise secondary data, carefully amassed for several decades, on the motions of objects in the celestial sphere. With his luck and superior mathematical talent, Kepler solved the mystery of the planets. Kepler’s data was primarly gathered by Tycho Brahe (1546–1601), a Danish nobleman and brilliant astronomer who made the most accurate astronomical observations of his time by devising the most precise instruments available prior to the invention of the telescope. With generous royal support from the king of Denmark, Brahe built a research center called Uraniborg (castle of the heavens), which became the finest observatory in Europe. He designed and built new instruments, calibrated them, and instituted scrupulous nightly observations for over twenty years. In 1600 Brahe invited Kepler—a bright but underprivileged teacher—to become his assistant.

pages: 262 words: 80,257

The Eureka Factor by John Kounios


active measures, Albert Einstein, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, deliberate practice,, Everything should be made as simple as possible, Flynn Effect, functional fixedness, Google Hangouts, impulse control, invention of the telephone, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Necker cube, pattern recognition, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, theory of mind, US Airways Flight 1549, Wall-E, William of Occam

It’s not that opinions and observations are bad. They can be a helpful starting point for inquiry. But there is a more complete approach—a scientific approach. Science finishes the job by putting opinions and observations to the test wherever possible. Individual fields of science have had periods of extraordinary development, often spurred by new technologies. Astronomy was energized by the invention of the telescope, as biology was by the microscope. The last quarter century has seen the emergence of a new field—cognitive neuroscience—fueled by techniques for measuring the activity of a brain while it works. Techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and high-density electroencephalography (EEG) have enabled us to explore the brain in ways that elucidate how we perceive, remember, think, feel—and have insights.

pages: 208 words: 70,860

Paradox: The Nine Greatest Enigmas in Physics by Jim Al-Khalili


Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, butterfly effect, clockwork universe, complexity theory, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Ernest Rutherford, Henri Poincaré, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Olbers’ paradox, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics, Wilhelm Olbers

We know that in fact the Sun sits on an outer arm of an average spiral galaxy in a nondescript part of the Universe. We know, with the benefit of centuries of ever more comprehensive and accurate astronomical data, leading to our current understanding in modern cosmology, that the Universe has no center at all, and may indeed extend out in all directions forever. But of course poor Copernicus, working before the invention of the telescope, could not have known any of this. It would take a relatively unknown astronomer in the sleepy English market town of Wallingford near Oxford to make the next big leap forward. His name was Thomas Digges and he was born in 1546, a few years after Copernicus died. His father, Leonard Digges, was also a scientist—credited with the invention of the theodolite, an instrument used (these days mainly by surveyors) to measure vertical and horizontal angles very precisely.

pages: 271 words: 68,440

More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionised the Cosmos by Dava Sobel


Astronomia nova, Commentariolus, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Edmond Halley, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres

In 1616, On the Revolutions was listed on the Index of Prohibited Books, where it remained for more than two hundred years. The philosophical conflict and change in perception that his ideas engendered are sometimes referred to as the Copernican Revolution. HOROSCOPE FOR NICOLAUS COPERNICUS Astronomers and astrologers in Copernicus’s time shared the same pool of information about the positions of the heavenly bodies against the backdrop of the stars. Until the invention of the telescope in the seventeenth century, position finding and position predicting constituted the entirety of planetary science—and the basis for casting horoscopes. He was christened for his father—Mikolaj in Polish, Niklas in German, his native tongue. Later, as a scholar, he Latinized his name, but he grew up Niklas Koppernigk, the second son and youngest child of a merchant family from the copper-mining regions of Silesia.

pages: 327 words: 103,336

Everything Is Obvious: *Once You Know the Answer by Duncan J. Watts


active measures, affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Black Swan, butterfly effect, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, complexity theory, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, East Village, easy for humans, difficult for computers, edge city,, Erik Brynjolfsson, framing effect, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Santayana, happiness index / gross national happiness, high batting average, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, industrial cluster, interest rate swap, invention of the printing press, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, lake wobegon effect, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, medical malpractice, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, oil shock, packet switching, pattern recognition, performance metric, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, prediction markets, pre–internet, RAND corporation, random walk, RFID, school choice, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, supply-chain management, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, too big to fail, Toyota Production System, ultimatum game, urban planning, Vincenzo Peruggia: Mona Lisa, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize

Most recently, the genomics revolution that began more than fifty years ago with the discovery of DNA has long promised more in the way of medical treatments than it has been able to deliver; yet that hasn’t stopped us from devoting enormous resources to the pursuit of science.26 Why should the science required to understand social problems such as urban poverty or economic development or public education deserve less attention? It should not. Nor can we claim anymore that the necessary instruments don’t exist. Rather, just as the invention of the telescope revolutionized the study of the heavens, so too by rendering the unmeasurable measurable, the technological revolution in mobile, Web, and Internet communications has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of ourselves and how we interact. Merton was right: Social science has still not found its Kepler. But three hundred years after Alexander Pope argued that the proper study of mankind should lie not in the heavens but in ourselves, we have finally found our telescope.27 Let the revolution begin.… ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This book has been in the writing for more than three years, and on my mind for twice as long as that.

pages: 442 words: 110,704

The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel


Albert Einstein, card file, Cepheid variable, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering, Ernest Rutherford, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, index card, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, John Harrison: Longitude, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, pattern recognition, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Solar eclipse in 1919, V2 rocket

Now, thanks to the abundance of plates and Miss Leavitt’s completion of the North Polar Sequence, Miss Vann had the necessary tools to assess the novae’s changing magnitudes over time and create a light curve for each one. On June 8, 1918, shortly before she left the observatory to take up war work, a new nova erupted in the constellation Aquila, outshining all but the very brightest stars for several weeks. At magnitude −0.5, Nova Aquilae 1918 proved the brightest such sight since the invention of the telescope, but its photographic study fell to the second Pickering Fellow, Dorothy W. Block, a 1915 graduate of Hunter College in New York City. Unlike the astronomical fellowship of the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association, now permanently assigned to Margaret Harwood, the Pickering Fellowship entailed no Nantucket residency rule. The recipient was welcome to visit Miss Harwood on the island during the summer months, if she so chose, but the real reward consisted of research funding at Harvard through a typical fall-to-spring academic year.

pages: 419 words: 124,522

Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron


Ayatollah Khomeini, British Empire, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, failed state, invention of gunpowder, invention of the telescope, Lao Tzu, Pax Mongolica, South China Sea, trade route

He had served his father well, and he was tired of war. In his court of architects and painters, calligraphers and poets, Mongol vigour and Persian delicacy struck momentary fire. Another son, the talented prince Baisanghur, assembled a forty-strong workshop of illuminators and book-binders–and a unique library–before drinking himself to death at the age of thirty-seven. In Samarkand, meanwhile, two centuries before the invention of the telescope, Ulug Beg was charting the course coordinates of 1,018 stars, and recalculating the stellar year to within seconds of that computed by electronics. At the heart of this renaissance was Shah Rukh’s prodigious queen, Gawhar Shad. These were her children. Her foundations–mosques, palaces, colleges, baths, libraries–spread in lavish patronage all over eastern Persia and Afghanistan. In 1405, with the rare tolerance of a Sunni for a Shia saint, she founded a famous mosque in Meshed, which I longed to see.

pages: 523 words: 148,929

Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 by Michio Kaku


agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, Asilomar, augmented reality, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, blue-collar work, British Empire, Brownian motion, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, DARPA: Urban Challenge, delayed gratification, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter,, friendly AI, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hydrogen economy, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, industrial robot, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, John von Neumann, life extension, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Mars Rover, mass immigration, megacity, Murray Gell-Mann, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, planetary scale, postindustrial economy, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, telepresence, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, Turing machine, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, Wall-E, Walter Mischel, Whole Earth Review, X Prize

The fMRI scan allows scientists to locate the presence of oxygen contained within hemoglobin in the blood. Since oxygenated hemoglobin contains the energy that fuels cell activity, detecting the flow of this oxygen allows one to trace the flow of thoughts in the brain. Joshua Freedman, a psychiatrist at the University of California, Los Angeles, says: “It’s like being an astronomer in the sixteenth century after the invention of the telescope. For millennia, very smart people tried to make sense of what was going on up in the heavens, but they could only speculate about what lay beyond unaided human vision. Then, suddenly, a new technology let them see directly what was there.” In fact, fMRI scans can even detect the motion of thoughts in the living brain to a resolution of .1 millimeter, or smaller than the head of a pin, which corresponds to perhaps a few thousand neurons.

pages: 476 words: 118,381

Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier by Neil Degrasse Tyson, Avis Lang


Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, asset allocation, Berlin Wall, carbon-based life, centralized clearinghouse, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, dark matter, Gordon Gekko, informal economy, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Karl Jansky, Kuiper Belt, Louis Blériot, Mars Rover, mutually assured destruction, Pluto: dwarf planet, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, space pen, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, trade route, V2 rocket

I’ve got one more intersection for you—and this one isn’t about presidents. In my professional community of astrophysicists, about 90 percent of us, plus or minus, are liberal, antiwar Democrats. Yet practically all of our detection hardware flows out of historical relationships with military hardware. And that connection goes back centuries. In the early 1600s Galileo heard about the invention of the telescope in the Netherlands—which they used for looking in people’s windows—and he built one himself. Almost no one had thought to look up with the telescope, but Galileo did, and there he found the rings of Saturn, the phases of Venus, sunspots. Then he realized, Hey, this would be good for our defense system. So he demonstrated his instrument to the doges of Venice, and they ordered a supply of telescopes right then and there.

pages: 467 words: 114,570

Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science by Jim Al-Khalili


agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Book of Ingenious Devices, colonial rule, Commentariolus, Dmitri Mendeleev, Eratosthenes, Henri Poincaré, invention of the printing press, invention of the telescope, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Joseph Schumpeter, liberation theology, retrograde motion, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, trade route, William of Occam

In fact, while he improved on Ptolemy’s cosmology by removing the earth from the centre of the universe and replacing it with the sun, we now know that even this was not quite right. To Copernicus, the outer sphere of the fixed and distant stars was also centred on the sun. But we have learnt that our sun sits on an outer arm of an average spiral galaxy in a nondescript part of the universe, and certainly not at the universe’s centre. How could poor Copernicus know this before the invention of the telescope? Indeed, modern cosmology based on Einstein’s theory and centuries of ever more comprehensive and accurate astronomical data have convinced us that the universe has no centre at all, much as the surface of the earth has no centre. What Copernicus described correctly (apart from the elliptical orbits that had to await the work of Kepler) was only our sun-centred solar system. So despite his undoubted genius, I stand by my belief that Copernicus was the last astronomer of the Marāgha School.

pages: 492 words: 149,259

Big Bang by Simon Singh


Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Andrew Wiles, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Astronomia nova, Brownian motion, carbon-based life, Cepheid variable, Chance favours the prepared mind, Commentariolus, Copley Medal, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Defenestration of Prague, discovery of penicillin, Dmitri Mendeleev, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, Erwin Freundlich, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, Hans Lippershey, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Henri Poincaré, horn antenna, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, Index librorum prohibitorum, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Karl Jansky, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Murray Gell-Mann, music of the spheres, Olbers’ paradox, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Paul Erdős, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, scientific mainstream, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, unbiased observer, V2 rocket, Wilhelm Olbers, William of Occam

Some astronomers suggested that these mysterious objects were sprinkled throughout the universe. The majority, however, believed that they were more mundane entities within our own Milky Way. After all, William Herschel had indicated that everything was within our pancake-shaped Milky Way. The study of nebulae dates back to the ancient astronomers, who had spotted a handful of nebulae using just their naked eyes, but then the invention of the telescope revealed a surprisingly large number of them. The first person to compile a detailed catalogue of nebulae was the French astronomer Charles Messier, who started work on this project in 1764. Previously he had already been successful in tracking down comets, which is why King Louis XV nicknamed him the Comet Ferret, but Messier was continually frustrated because, at first sight, it was easy to confuse a comet with a nebula as both types of object appear as tiny smudges in the sky.

pages: 463 words: 118,936

Darwin Among the Machines by George Dyson


Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, British Empire, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, computer age, Danny Hillis, Donald Davies, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, finite state, IFF: identification friend or foe, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, packet switching, pattern recognition, phenotype, RAND corporation, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, spectrum auction, strong AI, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Turing machine, Von Neumann architecture, zero-sum game

, visibility (‘repeat please’), and transmission speed (‘not so fast!’).”6 Telecommunications systems have appeared, disappeared, and reappeared across the centuries: fire beacons, heliographs, and primitive forms of semaphore based on hanging or waving anything from flags to lanterns in the air. When the Spanish armada entered the English Channel in July 1588, a network of fire beacons raised the alarm, cradling the newborn Thomas Hobbes with fear. The invention of the telescope in the early seventeenth century extended the distance between relay stations and allowed more complex symbols to be distinguished. The feasibility of a “method of discoursing at a Distance, not by Sound, but by Sight” was addressed by Robert Hooke in a lecture, “Shewing a Way how to communicate one’s Mind at great Distances,” delivered to the Royal Society on 21 May 1684. Having advanced the optical instruments of his day, Hooke showed that “‘tis possible to convey Intelligence from any one high and eminent Place, to any other that lies in Sight of it, tho’ 30 or 40 Miles distant, in as short a Time almost, as a Man can write what he would have sent, and as suddenly to receive an Answer as he that receives it hath a Mind to return it. . . .

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil


additive manufacturing, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, brain emulation, Brewster Kahle, Brownian motion, business intelligence,, call centre, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, Dava Sobel, David Brooks, Dean Kamen, disintermediation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter,, epigenetics, factory automation, friendly AI, George Gilder, Gödel, Escher, Bach, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the telephone, invention of the telescope, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, linked data, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, Mikhail Gorbachev, mouse model, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, oil shale / tar sands, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, phenotype, premature optimization, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, remote working, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Robert Metcalfe, Rodney Brooks, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, selection bias, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, The Coming Technological Singularity, Thomas Bayes, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Y2K, Yogi Berra

There are many ramifications of the increasing order and complexity that have resulted from biological evolution and its continuation through technology. Consider the boundaries of observation. Early biological life could observe local events several millimeters away, using chemical gradients. When sighted animals evolved, they were able to observe events that were miles away. With the invention of the telescope, humans could see other galaxies millions of light-years away. Conversely, using microscopes, they could also see cellular-size structures. Today humans armed with contemporary technology can see to the edge of the observable universe, a distance of more than thirteen billion light-years, and down to quantum-scale subatomic particles. Consider the duration of observation. Single-cell animals could remember events for seconds, based on chemical reactions.

Evidence-Based Technical Analysis: Applying the Scientific Method and Statistical Inference to Trading Signals by David Aronson


Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, asset allocation, availability heuristic, backtesting, Black Swan, capital asset pricing model, cognitive dissonance, compound rate of return, computerized trading, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, distributed generation, Elliott wave,, feminist movement, hindsight bias, index fund, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Long Term Capital Management, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, p-value, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price stability, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nelson Elliott, random walk, retrograde motion, revision control, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, riskless arbitrage, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Sharpe ratio, short selling, source of truth, statistical model, systematic trading, the scientific method, transfer pricing, unbiased observer, yield curve, Yogi Berra

However, when the best rule’s performance is evaluated with the appropriate probability density function it does not appear statistically significant. That is to say, the rule’s rather high performance would not warrant the conclusion that it has predictive power or an expected return that is greater than zero. THE NEED FOR RIGOROUS STATISTICAL ANALYSIS The tools and methods of a discipline limit what it can discover. Improvements in them pave the way to greater knowledge. Astronomy took a great leap forward with the invention of the telescope. Though crude by today’s standards, the earliest instruments had 10 times the resolving power of the unaided eye. Technical analysis has a similar opportunity, but it must replace informal data analysis with rigorous statistical methods. Informal data analysis is simply not up to the task of extracting valid knowledge from financial markets. The data blossoms with illusory patterns whereas valid patterns are veiled by noise and complexity.