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Press and Pop Culture

Kanye West & Galileo

Kanye West’s recent interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live took an unexpected turn when West invoked Galileo, implying that they were both misunderstood geniuses who wouldn’t be silenced by bullies telling them what to think. West was responding to Kimmel, who had asked about West’s views on the president.[1] I’m not interested West’s opinions about the […]

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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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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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Pulp Scholarship

The Copernican Revolutionary

Thomas Kuhn, writing under a pretty lame nom de plume, tried his hand at historical pulp fiction. The story of a Revolutionary War-era woman who refused to live by society’s patriarchal norms. Ok, there’s no way Thomas Kuhn could have written such a book. But it’s fun to pretend.

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Press and Pop Culture

Science won’t prevail unless …

“Science Will Prevail,” Anzar Abbas reassures readers in his recent op-ed. Although the Trump administration “wants to ignore facts and instead believe whatever makes it feel most comfortable,” he is confident that “no matter what an ignorant administration may throw at science and reason, it will prevail. It always has.” To make his case, Abbas […]

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History

Samuel J. Gummere’s Lecture on Copernicus

In 1862 Samuel J. Gummere began lecturing on astronomy at Haverford College. At that time all sophomores and juniors heard lectures based on John Herschel’s Outlines of Astronomy; seniors heard lectures on “practical astronomy” based on Elias Loomis’s text (probably his Introduction to Practical Astronomy) and carried out observations in the college’s new observatory. Gummere’s […]

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History

More De Revolutionibus Chord Diagrams

I did some additional fiddling with the information I pulled out of Gingerich’s An Annotated Census of Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus. The way I now translate the city location into a country location gives more dependable results. I then separated out the movement of the first and second editions into distinct chord diagrams. I also generated […]

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History

Editions of Copernicus’s De revolutionibus

In 1953 Haverford College purchased a first edition of Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus for the Philips Collection. William Pyle Philips had left his collection of rare books to the library as well as an endowment to purchase additional books for the collection. Over the years, the library has added significant works to the Philips Collection. In […]

Categories
Historical Expertise

A Call for Historical Accuracy

If we inveigh against people who distort science and ignore facts to prove their point and we label them dogmatic knuckleheads, we should at least guard against committing the same missteps in our criticisms of them. Phil Plait recently drew attention to and rightly criticized a pseudo-documentary promoting geocentrism.[1] The same day, Lawrence Krauss—a theoretical […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Weekly Roundup: History of Science Videos & NSF Report

The History Channel Distorts History A number of the videos at the History Channel’s “Enlightenment” page deal with the history of science—on Isaac Newton, the Scientific Revolution, and a series Beyond the Big Ban: Copernicus, Beyond the Big Ban: Galileo and Beyond the Big Ban: Newton. Some gesture to interesting points, e.g., the interaction between […]