For thought…

6 07 2010

I’ve been reading a fascinating book about the scientists of the romantic era: ‘The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science‘ by Richard Holmes [2008, Harper Press; ISBN 978-0-00-714953-7; a review here].

I have written here before about my love for astronomy, so one of the chapters I enjoyed most was about astronomer William Herschel. A fire has been lit in my imagination by text relaying a conversation between Herschel and poet Thomas Campbell

“I have looked further into space than ever human being did before me. I have observed stars of which the light, it can be proved, must have taken millions of years to reach the earth.”  Campbell recalled that he felt he had been ‘conversing with a super-natural intelligence’. Finally, Herschel completely perplexed the poet by remarking that many distant stars had probably ‘ceased to exist’ millions of years ago, and that looking up into the night sky we were seeing a stellar landscape that was not really there at all. The sky was full of ghosts. ‘The light did travel after the body was gone’.” (p210)

The sky was full of ghosts….


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2 responses

6 07 2010
Lauren

Karen, that quote is just beautiful. The imagery! …”The sky was full of ghosts”!
Lauren

7 07 2010
david neale

beautiful!

something Ive been researching which brings it back to smithing:
seamlessly cast hollow globes, used by arabic astronomers for star maps.
not much info out there!
quite a technical feat…




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