14 June 2010

The Moon Creeps Up to the Bubbling of Bassoons

In 1658 the eminently learned Sir Kenelme Digby performed an experiment using a “well-polished silver bason” proving the “rayes of the moon are cold and moist.” Why lunar rayes are cold is obvious, but the source of their moistness has long been a puzzle (Sir Kenelme attributed the dampness to the sun, mistakenly believing the sun to be a “humid star”). But last week scientists at the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory finally found the answer. Moonbeams are moist because the Moon has lots of water in it, at least a “100 times more” than “previous estimates”.

RELATED: Digby's extrordinary street fight.

9 comments:

  1. Apparently Kenelm Digby invented the modern wine bottle, which along with his scientific and swordfighting antics makes him quite a badass.

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  2. I had no idea. He was also quite the gastronome.

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  3. "He is built like some imperial room
    For that to dwell in, and be still at home.
    His breast is a brave palace, a broad street,
    Where all heroic ample thoughts do meet;
    Where nature such a large survey hath ta'en
    As other souls to his, dwelt in a lane."

    Ben Jonson (qtd in "The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Knight Opened")

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  4. It only adds to the greatness of the man that, when not catching moon-beams, plundering Dutch ships, running Frenchmen through, and slaughtering Spaniards, Sir Kenelm liked to put on his pinny and make possets.

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  5. Indeed it does, Deogolwulf.

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  6. That account of Digby's extraordinary fight in Madrid must have been the basis of the scene in Perez-Reverte's book "Capitan Alatriste", in which the Prince of Wales (later Charles I) and the Duke of Buckingham are attacked at night on the streets of Madrid. Wales had gone there to check out a Spanish princess.

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  7. Interesting. The Capitan Alatriste novels are new to me. Have you seen the movie?

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  8. No, but I've read all the novels in the series, 5 of them. In the trailer you can see the scene of the attack on the Prince of Wales in Madrid.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAcrIr84OdQ

    BTW, the Prince of Wales really did go to Madrid in secret in, I believe, 1619.

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  9. What an extraordinary man!

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