Friday, September 14, 2007

De Revolutionibus

I’m currently in the middle of reading a really interesting book, called (funnily enough) The Book Nobody Read, by Owen Gingerich. The title refers to the De Revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the revolution of the heavenly spheres) by Nicholaus Copernicus, in which he proposed a model for the solar system centred not on the earth but the sun. Apparently it’s such a complex technical work, that few of Copernicus’ contemporaries were thought to have read it, let alone understood it, and so it was left to later astronomers (Brahe, Kepler, Galileo) to popularise Copernicus’ ideas.

The book’s main aim is to show that many of Copernicus’ contemporaries did in fact read De Revolutionibus carefully, which the Gingerich does by hunting down as many first and second edition copies as he can (published in 1543 and 1566 respectively) and examining the notes the various readers left in the margins.

In Copernicus’ own introduction to De Revolutionibus, he wrote about his concern that his ideas about the mobility of the Earth would lead to his “being hissed off stage”. Gingerich adds in a foot-note:



Copernicus used the Latin word explodendum, which means “being hissed or clapped off the stage.” The Oxford English Dictionary confirms that this is also the original but now obsolete meaning of the English word explode, which did not pick up the modern meaning of “to blow up with a loud noise” until around 1700. Shakespeare never used the word despite its theatrical connotation, but his contemporary Kepler did, undoubtedly in an echo of Copernicus’ usage, when in the introduction to his Astronomia nova, he wrote (in Latin), “First, Ptolemy is certainly hissed off the stage.” Kepler may have been sensitized to the word by Galileo, who used it in his first letter to Kepler in 1597.
(p. 135)

My elementary Lewis and Short gives the following definition for explodo:

explodo, si, sus, ere [ex+plaudo], to drive out, hiss away, hoot off… To reject, disapprove.


Cicero uses the word in a similar context, in his De Divinatione (Concerning Fortune-telling):

Explodatur haec quoque somniorum divinatio pariter cum ceteris.

This fortune-telling by means of dreams must also be hissed off stage, along with all the rest.
(De Divinatione II.48)

10 comments:

teenage dirtbag said...

i thought that diagram looked very very familiar. of course!.. it IS the Copernicus model... you've reminded me of PHYSICS! (kudos for that!) do you reckon if i had somehow slipped a latin word like "explodendum" in my assessment responses, i'd get bonus marks?

p.s. you forgot dear Newton sir.

Last Goodbye said...

[[Jeff Buckley > Study]]

"Then public panic stifled year 11s, after it was announced that Livy was in the test, soon they heard the wailing and dissonant cries from their teacher, marking their unseens," - anon., year 11

p.s. We're having a party next Friday. Roman Banquet style. Our first for the year (and last for year 11). It's decided, so there.

And, of course, what's a Roman style banquet without a little musical entertainment...?

ruthius said...

sir, you probably won't get this until too late, but i thought i might as well try:

in the newington exam, for question 3 (a), for the passage starting "ergo insperata depresnum..." and ending "...et siccum sanguine guttur." parts i) + ii) are cut off, meaning i cannot do part iii).

maybe you have a complete copy of the exam? i don't know. if you do, could you possibly reply to this comment with those questions? if not, i'll just get them from you before school.

thanks.

Anonymous said...

u no who we havent heard about in 4eva? year 11.

and we should cuz theyre awsum.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Morrison. Plz tell me if we can put Castra Laina thing in Year book. Oh and you actually told me your blog spot. I will not tell you who I am.
From, Band-aid.

Anonymous said...

hello, hello if you can guess who this is i take my hat of to you sir
just popped in to congratulate my self on unearthing your blog and to ask you if we can post our aticle on yr 8 camp in the yr book
if that's ok with you then you can uhh well i dont know just reply to this comment i guess.. hm but you dont have access to the net
sigh pitty

jm said...

band-aid (Ece?), sorry i didn't reply earlier- i've been overseas, and hadn't checked my blog for ages. yes you can publish the article in the year book, but i'd like to have a look at it first, if that's alright.

Anonymous said...

hi mo jo just seriously bored in class btw its laura uhhhhhh wat are we doing in class 2moz and how were ur hols??! xD

Anonymous said...

heyo... unfortunately you dont get my presence in your classes *tear* o well you no me Mwa Ha Ha bibi luv stalker yr 8

Anonymous said...

interestingly, did you know that the romans had no concept of stalking?
I think the closest you get is "follow with love" or something.

how... cute.