Categories
Historical Expertise

Who was Englishman John Digges?

No, really, who was John Digges? Apparently he witnessed the supernova in 1572 and helped “shred” the “hidebound view of the universe” and championed the “skepticism about Bible-infused group-think in the Middle Ages” that was the Ptolemaic system. John Digges also viewed the supernova as proof that the fixed stars weren’t fixed on some “kind […]

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History

Aphorisms 11–20 from Ptolemy’s Ὁ Καρπός

Here are aphorisms 11–20 from the copy of Ptolemy’s “Ὁ Καρπός” in BnF gr. 2180. As to be expected, there are a number of idiosyncrasies here, some going well beyond the orthographic changes (which are unsurprising really). In some cases, this copy of the text includes additional clauses that raise interesting questions. For example, the […]

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Pulp Scholarship

Daughters of the Copernican Revolution

In honor of Copernicus’s 545th birthday, I thought I would read T. Koon’s best seller, The Copernican Revolutionary. Imagine my surprise when I found folded inside the back cover the following certificate: This certifies that Miss Etta Clara Hoyt is a regularly approved member of the International Society of the Daughters of the Copernican Revolution […]

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History

ὁ Καρπός, Aphorisms 6 – 10

As our reader continued to work through Ptolemy’s Ὁ Καρπός he either was uninterested in the minor errors in the Greek or didn’t notice them (such as the τοῦ γενεθλίω which clearly should be τοῦ γενεθλίου). He did add a couple corrections, particularly when whole words were missing. And he continued adding Latin translations for […]

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History

Aphorisms 4 and 5 from Ptolemy’s Ὁ Καρπός

Let’s follow our reader through a couple more aphorisms from Ptolemy’s Ὁ Καρπός. Again he glosses most of the Greek with Latin translations and, once again, corrects a couple scribal errors by writing the correct Greek word above the mistake (though he seems to miss a couple other mistakes). And here’s a transcription of these […]

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History

More fun with Ptolemy’s Ὁ Καρπός

Our premodern reader didn’t just add Latin glosses to his copy of Ptolemy’s Ὁ Καρπός, now and then he emended the Greek. For example, on the second aphorism the copiest wrote “τὴν κρεῖττον”. The reader seems to have been sufficiently bothered by this mistake that he wrote the correct article, “τὸ,” above the incorrect “τὴν.” […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Doritos™ Alchemy

I recently stumbled across this spec Doritos™ commercial David Ward made a six years ago. Really well done adaptations of the alchemist motif. You gotta love the list of ingredients (also, not listed, Unicorn tears): Staff of Anubis Philosopher Stone Rubber Hammer Rubber Nails Moon Rock Salt Archimedes Screw Harpsichord Parachute Blank Bag of Holding […]

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History

Struggling with Ptolemy’s Ὁ Καρπός

It is perversely reassuring to see that other people have had to labor to understand Ptolemy’s aphorisms.[1] Consequently, this 15th-century copy of Ptolemy’s Ὁ Καρπός (more widely known by its Latin title, Centiloquium) makes my day. Copied sometime in the latter half of the fifteenth century by a certain George Mediates, this manuscript was later […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Jon Pace & the Latest Prime Number

In case you missed it, the world has a new largest prime number called M77232917: 46733318335923109998833558556111552125132110281771449579858233859356792348052117720748431109974020884962136809003804931724836 … and on and on and on for another 23,249,300 digits. That number is unimaginably large. It is so large that even analogies meant to help us wrap our minds around it are nearly unimaginable. Who can imagine a […]