As part of my long-term project to learn about the history of (reflecting) telescopes I recently read a paper on Robert Hooke’s involvement in early attempts to grind and polish parabolic telescope mirrors. During my reading I was amused by the following comment about Richard Reeve who was the leading maker of lenses for telescopes and microscopes in London around 1660.
By this time Richard Reeve had died. His business had been disrupted in 1664 when he was arrested for killing his wife and his goods confiscated. The court proceedings were dropped when he secured a Royal pardon, but the financial cost was clearly considerable.
It seems you can get away with almost anything if you make telescopes for the king.
 A. C. D. Simpson, Robert Hooke and Practical Optics: Technical Support at a Scientific Frontier, in Michael Hunter & Simon Schaffer eds., Roert Hooke: New Studies, The Boydell Press, 1989, pp 33 – 61 quote p 47
Scientific research in Kircher’s day still had something half-magical about it, and its purpose was nothing less than to penetrate the workings of the Divine Mind. This was the ambition that spurred Athanasius Kircher [circa 1601 – 1680], and it was the self-same goal that inspired many of his scientific contemporaries, from Kepler to Newton.
Joscelyn Godwin, Athanasius Kircher: A Renaissance Man and the Quest for Lost Knowledge, p. 5
In the latest episode of the ‘you’re not an agnostic but an atheist’ silly buggers debate between PeeZee Maiers Mayers or what ever he’s called at Pharyngoogoo and the Albino Aussie AnthropoidTM at Evolving Thoughts, the latter came up with one of those philosophical quips that makes reading his expositions such a delight and I offer it to you as a quote of the day.
Huxley thought it was in principle Unknowable, but that’s a side effect of too much German Romanticism in his tea.
I love it.
Dirichlet’s definition also happens to be very close to the Bolzano-Cantorian idea of one-to-one correspondence between sets of real numbers, except of course neither ‘set’ nor ‘real number’ has been defined in math yet.
David Forster Wallace, A Compact History of ∞