Since at least Aristotle scholars have sought to discover the connections between earthquakes and planetary motions. Aristotle noted in Book 2 of his Meteorology that there seemed to be coincidental link between eclipses and earthquakes. His coincidental link was transformed into a causal link, which could in principle be used to predict earthquakes, at least […]
Mis-Adventures in Textbooks
In June I ordered copies of textbooks I wanted to use in my seminar this fall. At the same time, I order “instructor” or “desk” copies for me so that I could design the syllabus and plan the readings. Most of them arrived as expected. One, however, was a bit of a surprise. Unlike the […]
George Monbiot wrote an opinion column that draws attention to how conspiracy theories are appealing to people on both ends of the political spectrum. It is a useful reminder that there seems to be something structural about conspiracy theories that captures our attention. One can think about all the popular podcasts that traffic implicitly and […]
Astrology Activity Card
In 1976 the NSF had to justify the money it had spent on educational projects during its first 20 years in existence. The previous year the U.S. congress had cut the funding for the creation, evaluation, and distribution of science education materials. In response, the NSF produced a report, the National Science Foundation – Supported […]
José or Josepha?
File under: Well which is it? I was reading some Peter Abelard recently in the handy edition, Abelard & Heloise. The Letters and Other Writings, edited by William Levitan. The volume includes excerpts from Abelard’s long poem to his son, Astralabe, and a reference to an edition of the poem by J.M.A. Rubingh-Bosscher. While waiting […]
I am always happy to see bits from the history of science playing some role in contemporary political culture. So I delighted in hearing that as Portugal handed over the presidency of the EU to Slovenia, the Portuguese also gave them an astrolabe. I wonder, though, was it an astrolabe or a mariner’s astrolabe? The […]
What is an Astrolabe?
Since 1991 the astrolabe has appeared on Jeopardy, either in the clue or as the answer 13 times. After being an answer twice in 1991, the show seemed to forget about the astrolabe for more than a decade before slotting it in with some regularity. Most often the astrolabe appears in Double Jeopardy (10 of […]
Burton on Ptolemy
Ptolemy’s authorship of the Ὁ Καρπός (the Centiloquium) has been rejected for the last 120 years or so, since Franz Boll argued concisely that it couldn’t be by Ptolemy. Who originally composed the work and when, however, continues to exercise modern scholars. Medieval scholars, however, seem to have universally accepted that Ptolemy was the author. […]
Perhaps it was just a coincidence. Perhaps it was fated. Either way, The New York Times published a sort of “how-to” article on Tarot on, of all days, April 1: “How to Get Started With Tarot.” As the subtitle suggests with its invocation of “introspection,” and the first paragraph confirms, they were not suggesting Tarot […]
Persian Astrolabes on Auction
Bloomberg of all places reported last month on two Persian astrolabes coming up for auction at Sotheby’s. Why I don’t really know. The article itself is brief, really just a paragraph or two, and seems to be a string of staccato like factoids: before sextants there were astrolabes; Columbus might have taken one with him […]