Saturday, March 30, 2013

Anaxagoras and Other Bits of Cut and Paste

The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms.

Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said 'Bother!' and 'O blow!' and also 'Hang spring-cleaning!' and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat.

Something up above was calling him imperiously, and he made for the steep little tunnel which answered in his case to the gravelled carriage-drive owned by animals whose residences are nearer to the sun and air. So he scraped and scratched and scrabbled and scrooged and then he scrooged again and scrabbled and scratched and scraped, working busily with his little paws and muttering to himself, 'Up we go! Up we go!' till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight, and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.

The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Graham
The weather forecast for CanSpeccy's patch of the sub-boreal zone is for another six days of sunshine, which means 'Bother!' and 'O blow!' and also 'Hang blogging!' Instead we will continue to plagiarize our-self, with some swift bits of cut and paste.

(ca. 500 BC–428) b. Clazomenae, Ionia (Modern Turkey)

Iconoclastic speculation
The moon is not a god but a great rock and the sun a hot rock. It is the sun that puts brightness into the moon.*

John Burnet, Early Greek Philosophy, 3rd edn., A & C Black, London, 1920.

* As a native of Ionia, Anaxagoras was heir to the Milesian school of philosophy founded by Thales. He migrated to Athens, where he became a friend and teacher of Pericles. He sought to explain meteorological and celestial phenomena. He believed that celestial bodies are made of soil and rocks just like the earth, an idea that may have been prompted by the fall of a large rocky meteorite at Aigos Patamos on the Hellespont in the year 468–457 BC. He believed the sun to be a fiery mass larger than the Peloponnese, Greece's southern peninsular. The Peloponnese has an area of 21,549.6 square kilometers, whereas the sun is about 70 million times larger — even larger, perhaps, than Anaxagoras imagined.

The Athenians were intolerant of such speculation and condemned Anaxagoras to death for impiety. He managed, however, to escape Athens, probably with the aid of Pericles. Socrates, who acknowledged the influence of Anaxagoras on his own teaching, was also convicted by the Athenians of impiety, but unlike Anaxagoras, did not escape the ultimate penalty.

Source: A Short Dictionary of Scientific Quotations

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