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Friday, March 08, 2019

Only at long last did she look back at him as she lay motionless

10 years ago yesterday the now-retired Kepler observatory was launched.  And today (as opposed to May 15th) marks the anniversary of Kepler's initial conceptual breakthrough on the 3rd law, as he wrote in Harmonicus Mundi (1619):

[I]f you want the exact moment in time, it was conceived mentally on 8th March in this year one thousand six hundred and eighteen, but submitted to calculation in an unlucky way, and therefore rejected as false, and finally returning on the 15th of May and adopting a new line of attack, stormed the darkness of my mind. So strong was the support from the combination of my labour of seventeen years on the observations of Brahe and the present study, which conspired together, that at first I believed I was dreaming, and assuming my conclusion among my basic premises.

While he passively admitted an error (what would he have done if he'd owned a modern computer?), in his introduction, Kepler bragged:

Now, eighteen months after the first light, three months after the true day, but a very few days after the pure Sun of that most wonderful study began to shine, nothing restrains me; it is my pleasure to taunt mortal men with the candid acknowledgment that I am stealing the golden vessels of the Egyptians to build a tabernacle to my God from them, far, far away from the boundaries of Egypt. If you forgive me, I shall rejoice; if you are enraged with me, I shall bear it. See, I cast the die, and I write the book. Whether it is to be read by the people of the present or of the future makes no difference: let it await its reader for a hundred years, if God Himself has stood ready for six thousand years for one to study Him.

And thank G-d for him, lest we still be chained to the Earth for want of understanding the Book of Creation...


March 8, 2019 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink


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