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Archive for April, 2012

Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) built
a model of the universe that calculates
the distance between the six planets known
at that time, illustrated in his book
Mysterium Cosmographicum.

The following excerpts are from the book Kepler by John Banville, published in 1981. This is for the series Bookmarks, Bindings and Blue Ink on marked passages in my books:

Aedes Cramerianis
Prague
March 1610
Signor Prof. Giorgio Antonio Magini: at Bologna

It is as if one had woken up to find two suns in the sky. That is only, of course, a way of putting it. Two suns would be a miracle, or magic, whereas this has been wrought by human eye and mind. It seems to me that there are times when, suddenly, after centuries of stagnation, things begin to flow all together as it were with astonishing swiftness, when from all sides streams spring up and join their courses, and this great confluence rushes on like a mighty river, carrying upon its flood all the broken & pathetic wreckage of our misconceptions. Thus, it is not a twelvemonth since I published my Astronomia nova, changing beyond recognition our notion of celestial workings: and now comes this news from Padua! Doubtless you in Italy are already familiar with it, and I know that even the most amazing things can come to seem commonplace in only a little time; for us, however, it is still new & wonderful & somewhat frightening.

“O Kepler, Kepler . . .”

Now he went all the way back to the Mysterium, and the theory which through the years had been his happiness and his constant hope, the incorporation of the five regular solids within the intervals of the planets. His discovery of the ellipse law in the Astronomia nova had dealt a blow to that idea, but a blow not heavy enough to destroy his faith. Somehow the rules of plane harmony must be made to account for the irregularities in this model of the world. The problem delighted him. The new astronomy which he had invented had destroyed the old symmetries; then he must find new and finer ones.

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