mirrorshard: (Default)
Twice recently, I've been researching something and come across a stray reference to something from another research project altogether.

As I was reading through Hunter's history of papermaking, a footnote directed me to Närrische Weissheit und Weise Narrheit: oder Ein Hundert so Politische als Physicalische, Mechanische,und Mercantilische Concepten und Propositionen, by Johann Joachim Becher (1682). This is, indeed, the same Becher who wrote (in Physica Subterranea, pub. 1703) something that used to delight me during my undergraduate years:
The chemists are a strange class of mortals, impelled by an almost insane impulse to seek their pleasure among smoke and vapour, soot and flame, poisons and poverty: yet among all these evils I seem to live so sweetly, that would I die if I would change places with the Persian king.


The second is the great cannon Zam-Zammah, in Lahore, mentioned in Khushwant Singh's History of the Sikhs, and which I first encountered in the opening scene of Kim twenty years ago. It amuses me that the name has since become a slang term for a penis.
mirrorshard: (Default)
Which of these two pictures best represents the way the human race understands existence? Black stands for what we know, white stands for what we don't know.

NB: These are intended to be viewed on a white background. So any overall squareness you may see in the second picture is purely an artifact of the medium.



[Poll #1429355]
mirrorshard: (Portrait)
It turns out that the best thing for my (usually rather unpleasant) travel sickness is milkshake. McDonald's thick milkshakes particularly, but others will do, and "Primo Coffee" (if I'm remembering the name right - found one at a random service station) does one which is rather tastier. Five hours on a coach is still not fun, but at least I met a couple of other London fans on the way up.

The Midland Hotel is lovely - delightful Victorian interiors, comfortable quiet rooms, friendly staff, and very functional showers. Not staying in the con hotel was a bit of a pain, but on the plus side it meant I got a decent amount of sleep and could get up in the mornings. The Midland coffee, incidentally, is shite, but the breakfast is otherwise v. good.
Friday - recreating history, and larping )Saturday )Sunday - paperblogging a steampunk panel )Monday - upcoming book rec, realistic fantasy, trithemy )
mirrorshard: (Sabalom Glitz)
It turns out that the best thing for my (usually rather unpleasant) travel sickness is milkshake. McDonald's thick milkshakes particularly, but others will do, and "Primo Coffee" (if I'm remembering the name right - found one at a random service station) does one which is rather tastier. Five hours on a coach is still not fun, but at least I met a couple of other London fans on the way up.

The Midland Hotel is lovely - delightful Victorian interiors, comfortable quiet rooms, friendly staff, and very functional showers. Not staying in the con hotel was a bit of a pain, but on the plus side it meant I got a decent amount of sleep and could get up in the mornings. The Midland coffee, incidentally, is shite, but the breakfast is otherwise v. good.
Friday - recreating history, and larping )Saturday )Sunday - paperblogging a steampunk panel )Monday - upcoming book rec, realistic fantasy, trithemy )
mirrorshard: (Rose Theatre)
The Royal Society have alerted me to The Tragedy of Thomas Hobbes - a "dark Enlightenment comedy". It's on at Wilton's Music Hall (near Aldgate) from 12th November to 6th December - there's an audio described performance on the 6th of December, but no closed-caption or signed performances.

Anyone interested in joining me to see this? Tickets are £20, £15 concession.

The Royal Society have an event on the 24th of November all about this play, with the author (Adriano Shaplin) in conversation with Simon Schaffer. I'm elsewhere that day, sadly, or I'd so be there.
mirrorshard: (Terrella)
I've been doing a bit more reading, and found another character I can definitely use - a Dr Mark Ridley, Gilberd's younger protege, who fiercely defended the good philosopher's magnetic philosophy after his death. (Partly against one of Gilberd's earlier collaborators, in fact.) He was part of James VI&I's son Henry's satellite court, which was packed full of philosophers, scholars, mathematicians, and even a few practical men. It would be really interesting to read an alt-history on the theme of "what if Prince Henry hadn't died at 18, and we'd never had Charles I?"
I have a bit of a dilemma... )
mirrorshard: (The Book of Rainbows)
The Royal Society have thrown their archives open to world + dog online, as The Register says. They're available here. [Edited: This offer is only open till December 2006, so getcher history of science while you can.]

This is, pretty much, the entire history of science in the UK for hundreds of years.

I can't hope to pick the best for you, but here's a small sample of interesting things I found looking through.

From Volume 1, 1665-1666: )
mirrorshard: (The Book of Rainbows)
By special request from [livejournal.com profile] midnightmelody.

William Gilberd, a prosperous London physician, president of the College of Surgeons, and physician to Queen Elizabeth I at the end of her life (and, as it turned out, his) is often called the first real scientist. The traditional historical epithet for him is 'the Father of Magnetism', after his most famous, and most complex, project, investigating the Earth's magnetic field through a series of terrella magnets (lit., 'little earth' - a spherical magnet).
long )

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