SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN / MARCH 2015 by Caitlin Murray


TNF - tumor necrosis factor, inflammatory molecule - a type of cytokin / neurological reflexes (predictable responses to sensory stimuli) block the prevention of TNF / the use of nerve-stimulating electronic devices to treat inflammation and reverse disability is laying the foundation for a new discipline called bioelectronic medicine

the reflex circuit - stimuli > sensory neurons > interneurons > motor neurons > the subsequent firing of the motor neurons sends the electrical signal back to the body's muscles and organs triggering behaviors / reflexes coordinate the bodies behaviors

how do electrical signals that course through motor neurons actually control organ function? through neurotransmitters - molecules that interact with receptors (like drugs - many drugs selectively bind to specific receptors that modify metabolic activity and turn on genes in selected cells - but they have side effects) / using a device to send signals down a nerve to stimulate production of drugs like neurotransmitters offers a distinct advantage - the body's self-made drugs deliver chemicals to specific tissues in precise, nontoxic amounts at just the right time, diminishing the occurrence of side effects

CNI-1493 (Semapimod) - an experimental drug, which injected into the brain prevented TNF production during a stroke (cerebral infarction), but it also blocked TNF production in organs throughout the body

Perhaps, the motor neurons exiting the brain carried electrical signals to inhibit TNF in the rest of the body

Much of what is known about neural control of behavior originated from early studies of stroke patients with localized brain damage > Paul Broca (1824-1880) observed that damage to a small region in the left posterior frontal cortex resulted in the inability to speak while preserving language comprehension (expressive aphasia) > Carl Wernicke (1848 - 1905) noted that stroke damage in a nearby area produced sensory aphasia, an incapacity to either understand or produce meaningful speech > therefore, cutting the individual circuits that connect the brain and organs could reveal the specific nerves that control TNF

Linda Watkins (UC Boulder) study of the vagus nerve - has a major role in transmitting sensory information from the body's organs into the base of the brain - proposition that the TNF "off" signal from the vagus nerve completes a reflex nerve circuit between the brain and the immune system

Hypothesis: that reflex neural circuits controlling immunity would maintain health-promoting processes - as opposed to disease-triggering inflammation - by preventing the toxic release of TNF and other inflammatory signaling molecules (previous immunological studies has focused on the role of the immune system in protecting the body independent of the nervous system. Immunity, in these accounts, centered on the workings of lymphocytes, monocytes, macrophages and other white blood cells, but not neurons) / THE INFLAMMATORY REFLEX - keeps the immune system from becoming overactive or underactive - when it does not function well, autoimmune diseases appear

Experiments: found that an intact vagus nerve was required for CNI-1493 in the brain to switch off TNG production by immune cells in various organs - the nerve had to be intact in its entire trajectory

the creation of vagus nerve stimulators - currently in experiments for rheumatoid arthritis and IBS

In higher vertebrates, the two biological systems that learn from experience to defend an organism are the nervous and immune systems. Discovery of the inflammatory reflex revealed that these two main systems intersect in simple, precise reflex circuits to maintain immunological homeostasis.


All perception used to be proximal - by contact or sensed differences in concentration or pressure waves - perception and action evolved together, driving most of the basic diversification of the tree of life that exists today > metaphor for the spread of digital technology: Although advances in communications technology have transformed our world many times in the past - the invention of writing signaled the end of prehistory; the printing press sent waves of change through all the major institutions of society - digital technology could have a greater impact than anything that has come before. It will enhance the powers of some individuals and organizations while subverting the powers of others, creating both opportunities and risks that could scarcely have been imagined a generation ago.

TRANSPARENCY: governments, armies, churches, universities, banks and companies - evolved in an environment in which most knowledge was local and secrets were easily kept - as with evolution - these organizations find themselves exposed to daylight and must respond to new transparency - US supreme court justice Louis D. Brandeis - "sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants"

a pro-power article: "But in spite of much political rhetoric about the unalloyed virtues of transparency, secrecy in the halls of power is still maintained - and for good reason. . . As optimists, we would like to believe that this period of turmoil will push us toward organizations better aligned with the moral codes of civil society and powerful novel ways to correct deviant organizational behavior. But we cannot rule out a permanent weakening of our intelligence organizations that will reduce their abilities to identify threats."






"Not only the names of diseases, not only the grouping of systems were not the same; but the fundamental perceptual codes that were applied to patient's bodies, the field of objects which observation addressed itself, the surfaces and depths traversed by the doctor's gaze, the whole system of orientation of his gaze also varied." (Michel Foucault, The Birth of the Clinic, 1973)

Western medicine is concerned mainly with isolable disease categories or agents of disease, which it zeroes in on, isolates, and tries to change, control or destroy / The Western physician starts with a symptom, then searches for the underlying mechanism -  a precise cause for a specific disease / ANALYTICAL / Chinese medicine, on the other hand, forms a "pattern of disharmony" / describes a situation of imbalance / To Western medicine, understanding an illness means uncovering a distinct entity that is separate from the patient's being; to Chinese medicine, understanding means perceiving the relationships between all patient's signs and symptoms



Yin-Yang theory explains relationships, patterns and change

Yin: the shady side of a slope / cold rest responsiveness passivity darkness interiority downwardness inwardness decrease

Yang: the sunny side of a slope / brightness heat stimulation movement activity excitement vigor light exteriority upwardness outwardness increase

5 PRINCIPLES: All things have a Yin aspect and a Yang Aspect / Any Yin or Yang aspect can be further divided into Yin and Yang / Yin and Yang mutually create each other / Yin and Yang control each other / Yin and Yang transform into each other

Being and non-being produce each other;
Difficult and easy complete each other;
Long and short contrast each other;
High and low distinguish each other;
Sound and voice harmonize each other;
Front and back follow each other.

(Lao Tzu, Tao-te Ching)

Yang cannot exist in extreme relation to Yin without some transformation occurring.

In order to contract,
     It is necessary first to expand.
In order to weaken,
     It is necessary first to strengthen.

In order to destroy,
     It is necessary first to promote.
In order to grasp,
     It is necessary first to give.


People hate to be orphaned, the lonely ones, and
     the unworthy.

And yet kings and lords call themselves by these
Therefore it is often the case that things gain
     by losing and lose by gaining.

(Lao Tzu, Tao-te Ching)

The idea of causation, central to Western thinking, is almost entirely absent / the Chinese view of causation: "Conceptions are not subsumed under one another but placed side by side in a pattern, and things influence one another not by acts of mechanical causation, but by a kind of 'inductance'...the key-word in Chinese thought is Order and above all Pattern...Things behave in particular ways not necessarily because of prior actions or impulsions of other things, but because their position in the ever-moving cyclical universe was such that they were endowed with intrinsic natures which made that behavior inevitable for them...They were thus parts in existential dependence upon the whole world-organism" / Taoism lacks a creator / In the Chinese view, the truth of things is immanent; in the Western, truth is transcendent / the Huang-di Nei-jing (Inner Classic of the Yellow Emperor) - compiled by unknown authors between 300 and 100 BCE


Chinese medicine rarely looks further than the patient himself / the essential ideas include axioms and formulas, modes of perception and definitions of function / THE BODILY LANDSCAPE


Energy at the point of materializing / (To Chinese thought, however, such discussion of what a concept means in itself - a discussion that the Western mind expects in any systematic exposition - is completely foreign)

All of the Qi in the body is referred to in general terms as Normal or Upright (zheng-qi) - three sources for Normal Qi : Original or Prenatal, Grain Qi (the digestion of foods), Natural Air Qi (extracted by the Lung from the air we breathe) / all three intermingle / there is "no place that does not have it, and no place it does not penetrate"

FUNCTIONS: Qi is the source of all movement in the body / Qi protects the body / Qi is the source of harmonious transformation of the body / Qi governs retention of the body's Substances and Organs / Qi warms the body

(functions apparent in the types)

TYPES: Organ Qi (every organ has its own Qi), Meridian Qi (the channels or pathways through which Qi flows), Nutritive Qi (associated with the Blood, moves with the Blood), Protective Qi (resisting and combating External Pernicious Influences, Qi of the Chest or Ancestral Qi (aid and regulate the rhythmic movement of the heartbeat and respiration)

DISHARMONIES OF THE Qi: 1. Deficient Qi [Collapsed Qi (can no longer hold organs in place)] 2. Stagnant Qi (normal movement of the Qi is impaired) [Rebellious Qi (Qi going in the wrong direction)]


Circulating throughout the body, nourishing, maintaining and to some extent moistening its various parts / a Yin substance / originates through the transformation of food / the Heart, Liver and Spleen have special relationships with the Blood  - the heart rules the blood, the liver regulates the quiescent Blood. the spleen keeps the blood within the blood vessels

DISHARMONIES OF THE BLOOD: Deficient Blood (insufficient nourishment of the Blood), Congealed Blood (obstructed, not flowing smoothly)


The substance that underlies all organic life / the source of organic change / supportive and nutritive - the basis of reproduction and development

ORIGINS: Prenatal Jing (each persons is unique and will determine his or her particular growth - the quantity and quality of the Prenatal Jing is fixed as birth and together with the Original Qi, determines an individual's basic makeup and constitution) / Postnatal Jing (derived from the purified parts of ingested food - adds vitality to the Prenatal Jing) / together they comprise the overall Jing of the body

FUNCTIONS: An individual development is accompanied by corresponding changes in his or her Jing / the material that imbues an organism with the possibility of development from conception to death / the slow movement of organic change / An individual's Qi and Jing are mutually dependent - Qi emerges out of Jing, since prenatal Jing is the root of life - Qi helps transform food into Postnatal Jing, thereby maintaining and expanding that life (Jing is Yin and Qi is Yang)


Best translated as spirit - a substance unique to human life / If Jing is the source of life, and Qi is the ability to activate and move, then Shen is the vitality behind Jing and Qi in the human body / the force of the human personality - the ability to think, discriminate and choose appropriately / each parent contributes to the creation of the offspring's Shen, yet the Shen is continuously and materially nourished after birth / has a material aspect, has no importance to medicine independent of the body  / the capacity of the mind to form ideas and the desire of the personality to live life


bodily fluids other than blood - sweat, saliva, gastric juices and urine / the function of the fluids is to moisten and partly to nourish the hair, skin, membranes, orifices, flesh, muscles, inner organs, joints, brain, marrow and bones







about one in 10 bridges in the US are "structurally deficient" / In a suspension structure, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, there are two sets of cables: primary cables that connect the towers to one another and secondary cables that hang from the first set and hold the roadbed in place / A cable-stayed bridge has only cable that run directly from the towers to the road / the weight of the road deck of a cable-stayed bridge is balanced evenly on each side of its towers so it does not need large anchors / life span of 50 versus 50 years

In February 2009, the US's Iridium 33 satellite collided with the Russian Cosmos 2241, instantly destroying both communications satellites / satellite owners view the locations and trajectories of their on-orbit assets as private / must trust a mutual third party / cryptography 

Lulglxp 33
Frvprv 2241

9-18-9-4-9-21-13 -3-3

Gtoiktn  33
Bntnpx 2251C

Ii Co2rdu 3
oms25im3s 1

Vv Pb2eqh 3
bzf25vz3f 1

350,000 to 39,000 years ago (Neandertals) / equivocal signals about the Neandertal mind / right-handers - a strong tendency towards favoring the right hand is one of the traits that distinguishes H. sapiens from chimpanzees and corresponds to asymmetries in the brain that are believed to be related to language / LANGUAGE AND ASYMMETRY / FOXP2 gene / Neandertals interbred with H. sapiens after our species left Africa / Neandertal DNA lives on in may people as a result of long-ago mixing / "we know next to nothing about Neandertal cognition from genetic because we know next to nothing about modern human cognition from genetics" / Neandertals and H. sapiens overlapped for thousands of years in some places / 1990s discovery of a handful of decorative items and advanced tools attributed to Neandertals / Anatomically modern humans appear to have reached Europe by around 44,000 to 41,500 years ago / Gorham's cave /

red ochre



symbolic thought / "The history of all forms is that they go extinct...It's just what happens"

"EVENT HORIZON" (a sphere of no return where the gravitational field becomes infinite) / a boundary beyond which events cannot affect and outside observer / Hawkings (1974) small amounts of radiation can escape a black hole / quantum physics allows for particles to tunnel through otherwise impassable obstacles / the space elevator /




the digital economy and economic stagnation : at the same time that the digital economy has generated enormous wealth for shareholders and entrepreneurs, it has resulted in few new jobs / secular stagnation / in 2010 only 0.5 percent of the U.S. workforce were employed in industries that did not exist a decade earlier

ASTEROID REDIRECT MISSION (ARM) : the U.S. wants to send humans to Mars by 2030, as the first step NASA plans to send astronauts to a small asteroid that would be brought into a stable orbit around the moon

Research has shown that animal's common name can affect whether people want to protect it.

Do we inhabit the best of all possible worlds ? : over the past two decades astronomers have found more than 1,800 exoplanets and statistics suggest that our galaxy harbors at least 100 billion more / "superhabitable world" / we know that the earth will become far less-friendly in the future / about 5 billion years from now, our sun will have largely exhausted its hydrogen fuel and begun fusing more energetic helium into its core, causing it to swell to become a "red giant" star that will scorch the earth to a cinder / Long before that, however, life on Earth should have already come to an end / as the sun burns through its hydrogen, the temperature at its core will gradually rise, causing our star's total luminosity to slowly increase, brightening by about 10 percent every billion years / such change means that the sun's habitable zone is not static but dynamic, so that over time, as it sweeps farther out from our brightening star, it will eventually leave earth behind / recent calculations suggest that Earth is not in the middle of the habitable zone but rather on the zone's inner cusp, already teetering close to the edge of overheating

we began our work with the understanding that a truly long-lived host star is the most fundamental ingredient for superhabitability; after all, a planetary biosphere is unlikely to survive its sun's demise / our sun is 4.6 billion years old, approximately halfway through its estimated 10-billion-year lifetime / if it were slightly smaller, however, it would be a much longer-lived K dwarf star / K dwarfs have less total nuclear fuel to burn than more massive stars, but they use their fuel more efficiently, increasing their longevity

If our own earth were located in the habitable zone of a small K dwarf, the planet's interior would have grown cold long before the star expired, inhibiting habitability / for example, a planet's internal heat drives volcanic eruptions and plate tectonics, processes that replenish and recycle atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide / Without those processes, a planet's atmospheric CO2 would steadily decrease as rainfall washed the gas out of the air and into rocks / ultimately the CO2-dependent global greenhouse effect would grind to a halt, increasing the likelihood that an Earth-like planet would enter an uninhabitable "snowball" sate in which all of its surface water freezes.

Two thousand years ago a storm drove a Roman ship against a sheer rock wall on the north side of the remote Greek island of Antikythera / the boat sank, along with coins, gold jewelry, dozens of large marble and bronze statues and an extraordinary, bronze clockwork device now counted as the first analog computer / the wreck lay at the bottom of the sea, 165 feet down, untouched until 1900, when one day sponge divers came upon it / the divers were equipped with little more than a helmet and a long hose to the surface for air; they struggled just to reach the decayed vessel / one of them died, and two others were paralyzed.

new expedition last October : computerized breathing system - the gear cut down on the rate at which nitrogen builds up in the tissues, allowing him to prod the shipwreck for an hour and a half before turning back / the ascent still had to be slow after such a long submersion; short brought along a magazine so he could read at the planned stops upward.

most of the best ancient statuary has come not from land but from the sea

time stops on shipwrecks

mapping : mapping the entire regions of deep sea-floor relatively quickly using a small fleet of autonomous underwater robot vehicles / one goal : to chart the entire Aegean Sea bottom from Crete to the Greek mainland




Philipp Melanchthon - Philippism (Lutheran universities - acceptance of seven liberal arts - church as educational institution - Lutheran universities had at least one chair in mathematics (largely focused on astronomy) whereas in England there was not a single chair in mathematics throughout the whole of the sixteenth century)

Sacrobosco's On the Spheres and Peter Apian's Cosmography

When the time came to take the Grand Tour that had become a standard feature of the education of Danish aristocrats, Tycho followed the path of the Billes and Oxes to foreign universities, rather than the path of the Brahes to foreign wars / 15 years old - left Denmakr on 14 February 1562

the celestial maps of Albrecht Durer

Lacking a proper instrument, Tycho could only check the predictions of the ephemerides by lining up a planet and two stars by means of a taut string and estimating the positions of the planet from the positions of the two stars on his little globe (size of a fist) / the terrestrial effects of celestial influences / the horoscopes of famous men / building up a large body of observational data / recognizing Ptolemaic errors - off by a month

navigating, surveying, instrument making

the cross-staff instrument as a metaphor for Tycho's "coming of age"

the lunar eclipse of 28 October 1566 / as a result of analyzing it, Tycho concluded that it foretold the death of the Turkish sultan, Suleiman the Great (who died six weeks later) / also in 1566 the duel resulting in his disfigurement

Paracelsus : (11 November or 17 December 1493 – 24 September 1541) was a Swiss German Renaissance physician, botanist, astronomer, alchemist, and general occultist. He founded the discipline of toxicology. He is also known as a revolutionary for insisting upon using observations of nature, rather than looking to ancient texts, in open and radical defiance of medical practice of his day. He is also credited for giving zinc its name, calling it zincum. Modern psychology often also credits him for being the first to note that some diseases are rooted in psychological illness / believed that the spirit of God permeated and unified all of Nature and that there must therefore exist in the bowels of the macrocosm (the earth) mineral remedies that could alleviate any of the ills that could inflame the bowels of a microcosm ( person) - strong doctrine of empiricism ran through Paracelsan alchemy - truth is to be found in nature, rightly observed / His motto was "Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest" which means "Let no man belong to another who can belong to himself."


Danish Reformation - 1536 / Tycho b. 1546

Activities at Herrevad Abbey in the early 1570s - largely alchemical but also papermaking / "composed a poem calling on the women of Denmark to sacrifice some of their linen to help publicize the deeds of their ancestors" / Tycho said of himself that he worshiped all the"most delightful Muses surrounding Apollo"

16th century movement of thought to build a unified view of nature (celestial and terrestrial) in the spirit of Plato, to replace that of Aristotle / medicine - theories of Galen - four humours, restore balance by introducing opposite humour : these ideas rejected by Paracelsus, who asserted that each human being is a microcosm of the universal macrocosm - disease as something from outside the body - the balsam: a celestial substance found in plants, animals, and minerals - filled the body and gave it color and vitality / the development of anatomy

11 November 1572 - the formal beginning of Tycho's career as an astronomer - Tycho noticed an unfamiliar starlike object in the sky, one alien to the constellation in which it appeared but also brighter than any star or planter that he has ever seen / these are the only observations of his entire career that are known to be lost

The New Star: previously thought, since Aristotle, that celestial change was restricted to the sublunary world

(the universe itself is the best book of theology)

SIDEREAL contemplation : of or with respect to the distant stars (i.e., the constellations or fixed stars, not the sun or planets) / (Sidereus Nuncius, or Sidereal Messenger, a scientific work by Galileo Galilei)
a solar day vs. a sidereal day: Because the Earth moves in its orbit around the Sun, the Earth must rotate more than 360 degrees in one solar day / A solar day lasts from when the Sun is on the meridian at a point on Earth until it is next on the meridian. A solar day is exactly 24 hours (of solar time). Because of the Earth's revolution, a solar day is slightly longer than a sidereal day. In every day life, we use solar time /  The Earth must rotate an extra 0.986 degrees between solar crossings of the meridian. Therefore in 24 hours of solar time, the Earth rotates 360.986 degrees / Because the stars are so distant from us, the motion of the Earth in its orbit makes an negligible difference in the direction to the stars. Hence, the Earth rotates 360 degrees in one sidereal day / A sidereal day lasts from when a distant star is on the meridian at a point on Earth until it is next on the meridian. A sidereal day lasts 23 hours and 56 minutes (of solar time), about 4 minutes less than a solar day.

Thus, although both Tycho's star and the supernova of 1054 were visible in daylight to anyone who knew that they existed, neither was to bright as to arrest the attention of the untrained eye (no one in Copenhagen had noticed it) / Philosophers had agreed that the celestial world could not change and scientists through thousands of years had found that the stars remained unchanged in number, position, order, and so forth (yet Hipparchus had seen a new star - Pliny)

the astronomical portends of the new star : the new star observed by Hipparchus some 125 years before Christ has been a herald of cataclysmic change in the civilized world - the spiritual and political decline of the Jews and the transfer of Mediterranean hegemony from Greece to Rome

Mathematical contemplation of Tycho Brahe of Denmark on the new and never previously seen star just now first observed in the month of November in the year of Our Lord 1572

[CHAPTER 3: Becoming a professional]

disappearance of the star in March 1574

Tycho's first quadrant - decorated with an allegorical painting : "By the spirit we live the rest belongs to death"

"Some investigate in solitude lofty matters which are far beyond the grasp of common people: Saturn, the highest star, had formed them felicitously. Some are more interested in judicial and political affair, over which the splendor of Jupiter shines. Some breath nothing but war, slaughter, tumult, and quarrels: these the fervor of Mars agitates. Others seek honors, dignity and dominion over affairs because of the ambitious influence of the sun. There are those who spend their lives in loves, pleasures, the fine arts, and other pleasant pursuits: Venus, the enticing star, has enchanted these. Others dedicate themselves totally to practicing ingenious crafts or even commerce: these have been stimulated by Mercury. Some, influenced by the lunar nature, spend the course of their lives in popular affairs, pilgrimages, voyages, fishing, and the like. In this way, the great variety of temperaments can be seen to be like the influences from the seven wandering stars. Many people are affected by diverse combinations of these planets and they pursue different types of activities at diverse times in their lives, at one time being occupied with this business and at another time with another, as they are subject at various times to the secret influxes of this or that planet.

God so created man that he can overcome all malevolent influences of the stars if he wills to do so

There was no good reason in the 16th century for believing that the earth was in motion / Copernicus's view mainly viewed as figurative until the seventeenth century / Unlike most of his contemporaries, Tycho both understood that Copernicus has presented his system as a physical reality and agreed that astronomy could aspire to physical reality - but it was difficult for him to accept that the earth was moving

. . .

King Frederick II of Denmark - offer to Brahe - island of Hven / Pratensis to Brahe : "Apollo desires it, Urania recommends it, Mercury commands it with his staff"

[CHAPTER 4: THE FIRst years on hven - 1576-1579]

23rd May 1576 : "to our beloved Tyge Brahe...our land of Hven, with all our and the crown's tenants and servants who live thereon, and with all the rent and duty which comes from have, enjoy, use, and hold; free and clear without any rent, all the days of his life"

building / Vitruvius - Ten Books on Architecture - an expression of one's understanding of the universe / Palladio's Four Books of Architecture / the basic structure of the house would be square, bisected in each direction by corridors that subdivided it into four square areas of equal size - on the north and south sides of this living area Tycho planned large rounded towers appended to the square to form the working areas of the house, and at the ends of the other corridor he added smaller portal towers to formalize the two entrances - axial symmetry  (URANIBORG) - in later years, Tycho enclosed the manor grounds with a a great earthen wall and constructed outbuildings at its four corners / the house Tycho designed for himself would be built to reflect in its proportions the order of the heavens and earth, both the great cosmos and the cosmic dimensions of humanity

(sixty fish ponds)

13th November 1577 - COMET - supralunary  - a celestial body, counter to the teachings of Aristotle - orbit circling the sun - many who stated it was a presage of the apocalypse - Brahe's position was that rational exercise of free will could moderate or control the predictable effects of the comet and other cosmic events / rather than taking refuge in anguished prayers for general deliverance from divine wrath, Brahe wished to treat those specific forebodings of the comet that might be mitigated by appropriate policies. 

I have suitable instruments, partly now ready to be erected, partly under construction, which I believe to be inferior to none, either ancient or modern, in size, craftsmanship, accordance with their purpose, great cost and labor incurred in their construction, and in their extraordinary accuracy. I have planned a building that is to be as well suited as possible for these instruments and for the observation of the stars in comfort. For this reason, I have withdrawn to this isle in order to devote myself to philosophical and astronomical studies without disturbance.

Tycho was never to achieve the great wealth of his father, but he did set a new standard for the financial support of scientific research (his income was far more than any other man of learning in Europe) / As of 1579 he was using that support primarily to build the establishment in which he would conduct his research


(plants painted on the ceiling)

the construction of new, permanently installed instruments / began to dream of having his own instrument shop, where he could convert skilled craftsman into specialists, by hiring them to devote their time exclusively to his projects and to work where he could conveniently supervise every phase of the activity - a "workshop for artisans" / his ambition was nothing less than to reestablish the empirical foundations of the science of astronomy - to this end he published an account confirming the general superiority of all his instruments -   Mechanica / Instruments for the Restoration of Astronomy (detailed pictures and extensive descriptions of each of his 22 most important instruments) / no one before Tycho had both cared about accuracy and taken the steps to achieve it / the inefficiency of the widely accepted pinhole method

clocks - a precision instrument that could record the exact times at which stars crossed the meridian -  proved not as accurate as his instruments

his great globe : covered in brass / when Tycho was doing his star cataloging he entered on the globe each completed position - "If it has been done well enough, it has been done quickly enough"

the mural quadrant : practical, but also a parlor piece - a section of wall oriented and constructed along an astronomically precise north-south line

+++ plus more instruments +++

"Neither wealth nor power, but only knowledge, alone, endures"

In 1584, Tycho established his own press, also his own paper mill

From the instruments available to him before his ship began to produce them in 1581, he obtained observations averaging errors of about 4'. Although this was better than anyone before him had done, it was far short of the 1' accuracy that he demanded. By the time of the comet of 1585, however, Tycho had achieved his goal.

[CHAPTER 6: the flowering of uraniborg]

eight room garret on the top floor for assistants / these assistants recorded some of the stranger details of Tycho's life on Heven:  that there was a dwarf named Jeppe at Uraniborg "whom Tycho believed had some kind of prescience" and that Tycho was superstitious about both rabbits and old ladies and would return home if either crossed his path while he was out on an errand

Around 1582, for approximately 5,000 days Tycho had various of his associates record each day's weather - cloudy, rainy, windy, along with any unusual meteorological appearances / in 1584, this undertaking expanded to include other news such as the arrival and departure of island personnel and visitors, fierce storms, house fire, washed up body on shore, shipwrecks, incarcerations, deaths - some 700 items

the incommensurability of the university education of the day and the research that Tycho was doing on Hven / the credentials that the students brought to Hven were of very little value to Tycho / "whether or not he has obtained the M.A. degree is immaterial to me. I would prefer that he really be a master of arts, rather than just have the degree. But that is no easy matter , so it will suffice if he is a serious student"

For observation : Tycho was probably using a recording crew of three : one to hold the lantern and read out the sightings, another to use the log to make entries, and the third to stand by the clock and call out time as readings were recorded

The role of theology at Uraniborg - Platonic immanence - according to this philosophy, the two spheres of matter and spirit overlapped or interpenetrated to such a degree that comprehension of either one was impossible without a thorough understanding of the other - In this view, Nature and the Bible were equally authoritative theologically

in map making - the modern method of triangulation - one of the pioneers of cartographic measurement

Despiciendo suspicio (By looking down I see upward)
Suspiciendo despicio (By looking up I see downward)

Tycho kept daily records of the weather on Hven, eventually accumulating fifteen years of empirical data, which included the sighting of the first lark or stork in spring

pragmatic prognostication


serious nighttime observation

(ego non capio)


prosthaphaeresis - addito-subtraction

And through a career in which he developed instruments whose accuracy rose higher and higher above any standard previously achieved, he never documented any attempt to detect the stellar parallax that alone could verify the annual motion of the earth / although Tycho was capable of entertaining individual Copernican theories for the planets, when he was thinking technically, the framework within which he viewed them was Ptolemaic / Until the advent of the telescope, at the very earliest, the available evidence did not render belief in the mobility of the earth even plausible, let alone convincing - By extricating the geometry of the Copernicun system from the controversial company of Copernicus's moving earth, Tycho provided an important technical service to his discipline and almost surely hastened acceptance of the motion of the earth

[CHAPTER 9: HIGH TIDE: 1586-1591]

bothered by summer tourists

a considerable portion of Tycho's instincts rested on the quasi-theological conviction that God could not have been so inefficient as to have created a universe containing all the wasted space implicit in a Copernican system


the duke of Brunswick took his half-meter-high revolving statue of Mercury

US AND THEM, WE AND THEY by Caitlin Murray

terra incognita

liberty vs. force - John Quincy Adams - 4th of July speech, 1821 (then secretary of state declining to send the U.S. Navy to liberate the colonies of Venezuela and Colombia from the imperialism of Catholic Spain)

COTTONMOUTH-I and CANDYGRAM - [CAPABILITIES] [The NSA ANT catalog is a 50-page classified document listing technology available to the United States National Security Agency (NSA) Tailored Access Operations (TAO) by the ANT division to aid in cyber surveillance. ]


Tomis (aka Constanța, oldest still populated city in Romania) / the site of Ovid's exile / carmen et error /  a poem and a mistake /exiled in 8 AD - died 8 years later / A statue of Ovid stands in the Ovid Square (Piața Ovidiu) of Constanța, in front of the History Museum (the former City Hall)

I who lie here, sweet Ovid, poet of tender passions,
     fell victim to my own sharp wit.
Passer-by, if you've ever been in love, don't grudge me
     the traditional prayer: 'May Ovid's bones lie soft!

//////////      DISCOVERY     \\\\\\\\\\

(showered mist) (not so nameless after all)(a world after its own image)




The Orion capsule: the next spaceship – December test flight / “The test should pave the way for a crewed flight in 2021 to visit a nearby asteroid. The ultimate goal is a journey to Mars, when Orion would dock with another traveling habitat for extra living space.” (SA, 12/2014)

. . .

In 1971, George aka Lonesome George (1910 – June 24, 2012), the last of his subspecies of the Galápagos’s Pinta ISland turtles [helonoidis nigra abingdonii], was discovered by a Hungarian scientist studying snails. George is now taxidermied and was shown at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City in the month of December, 2014. He died of old age, yet even one hundred is not especially old for a Galápagos tortoise. [“Before a species goes extinct, there must be one last survivor. Often that final individual slips away unknown, but for the Pinta Island tortoise from Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, that survivor was this male, known as Lonesome George. When he died of natural causes, his species, Chelonoidis abingdoni, vanished.”] He was named after a famous 1950s American TV comedian, George Gobel, who called himself “Lonesome George.” (SA, 12/2014)

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Rodham Tulloss: maintains one of the world’s largest and most diverse collections of amanitas in a converted garage in Roosevelt, N.J. / Tullpss, aged 70, had documented species so rare they have been seen only once or twice in the past 50 years / Of the estimated 1.5 million fungi species worldwide, only a small percentage have been categorized / [“I don’t know how much time I have left, so I want to give it my all”] (SA, 12/2014)

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Finding’s in October’s American Naturalist suggest that “deep commonalities exist among the cries of most young mammals.” (SA, 12/2014)

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“Predicting which scientific discoveries will change the world is, arguably, a fool’s game. Who knows what the future will bring?” (SA, 12/2014)

. . .

CRISPR: clustered, regularly, interspaced, short palindromic repeats (genetic sequences which bacteria use to remember viruses that have attacked them). (SA, 12/2014)

. . .

In 2012, the skeleton of 15th-century English king Richard III was found buried underneath a parking lot in Leicester (many thought his bones had been scattered in the River Soar).

[The initial plan was to reinter Richard’s body in Leicester Cathedral. However, the choice of burial site was controversial, as there were proposals for Richard to be buried at Westminster Abbey (alongside 17 other English and British kings), or in York Minster, which some claimed was Richard’s own preferred burial site. The original decision was challenged in court and was the subject of a judicial review. The Conservative MP and historian Chris Skidmore proposed a state funeral should be held, while John Mann, the Labour MP for Bassetlaw, suggested the body should be buried in Worksop in his constituency—halfway between York and Leicester. However the Mayor of Leicester has said: “Those bones leave Leicester over my dead body.”

The present Royal Family made no claim on the body and so the Ministry of Justice initially confirmed that the University of Leicester would make the final decision on where the bones should be re-buried. David Monteith, Canon Chancellor of Leicester Cathedral, said Richard’s skeleton would be reinterred at the cathedral in early 2014 in a “Christian-led but ecumenical service”. He said it would not be a formal reburial but rather a service of remembrance, as Richard would already have had a funeral service at the time of burial.

Richard’s wife Anne Neville is buried within Westminster Abbey. It is uncertain where their only child Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales, is buried; theories have included Sheriff Hutton Church, or Middleham, both in North Yorkshire. Richard’s parents are both buried in Fotheringhay Church, in Northamptonshire.

Legal action brought by 15 of Richard’s distant relatives, known as the “Plantagenet Alliance”, meant that his final resting place was uncertain for nearly a year. Those bringing the legal challenge wanted Richard to be buried within York Minster, which, they believed, was his “wish”.  The Dean of Leicester, however, called their challenge “disrespectful”, and confirmed the Cathedral would not be investing any more money until the matter was decided. In August 2013 a judge granted permission for a judicial review as the original burial plans ignored the Common Law duty “to consult widely as to how and where Richard III’s remains should appropriately be reinterred”. Mark Ormrod of the University of York expressed scepticism over the idea that Richard had devised any clear plans for his own burial. Mathematician Rob Eastaway calculated that Richard III may have millions of living collateral descendants saying that “we should all have the chance to vote on Leicester versus York”.

The judicial review opened on 13 March 2014 and was expected to last two days but the decision was deferred for four to six weeks. Lady Justice Hallett, sitting with Mr Justice Ouseley and Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, said the court would take time to consider its judgment. On 23 May the High Court ruled that there was “no duty to consult” and that “There was no public law grounds for the court to interfere”, so that re-burial in Leicester could proceed. The reinterment ceremony was scheduled for spring 2015 with a new design for the tomb expected to be revealed in “three or four weeks”.] (SA, 12/2014)


[Brahe was Rudolf II's court astronomer]

By 1592, Tycho had produced a catalogue of 777 stars, the first new catalogue known to the Latin West since the time of Ptolemy. This catalogue was printed for inclusion in the Astronomiae instauratae progymnasmata, although the book was not completed and issued until 1602, after Tycho's death. The work also contained his solar theory, including tables, completed by 1589, and a section on the lunar motions which took Tycho the rest of his life to complete. In the meantime, further observations on the fixed stars were made, to bring the number in the Tychonic catalogue to 1000; although many of the additional stellar positions were less accurate than the earlier ones. Tycho sent manuscript copies of this star catalogue to potential patrons in 1598 and 1599, along with the printed Astronomiae instauratae mechanica. Emperor Rudolph II also received a manuscript ephemeris of daily positions of the sun and moon for the year 1599.

Astronomical tables for all the planets were eventually printed on the basis of Tychonic data, as was the 1000-star catalogue, but not until 1627. The Tabulae Rudolphinae were completed by Johannes Kepler, and in accordance with his planetary theory. Although it was not immediately recognised, the positions predicted in this work were generally around thirty times better than those of previous and competing tables.

[Uranienborg] [was a Danish astronomical observatory operated by Tycho Brahe. It was built c. 1576 – c. 1580 on Hven, an island in the Øresund between Zealand and Scania, which at that time was part of Denmark. Shortly after its construction, the observatory was expanded with an underground facility, Stjerneborg, on an adjacent site] [The building was dedicated to Urania, the Muse of Astronomy, and it was named Uranienborg, "The Castle of Urania." ]

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( pp. 107

1576 to 1597

His last words, "Ne frusta vixisse vidar" (May I not seemed to have lived in vain") were recorded by his assistant Kepler. Within a few years of his death, the castle and observatory he built on his beloved island Hven were destroyed.



The Milky way is itself is not simply one galaxy: recent work has shown that it has lured in and engulfed many smaller galaxies over time, integrating their stars into itself…The ingestion started when the Milky Way was younger and smaller than it is now and continues today.

Galactic archaeology / faint streams of stars left over from the ingestion of the Milky Way / fossils of our galaxy’s past

hierarchical structure formation: [the architectonics of the universe] [connect to Peirce’s view of how we learn about science] / the widely held theory that our galaxy started small and swelled in part by adding mass in large gulps.

baryonic matter (the stars, gas and dust, etc.) and dark matter


SDSS Sky Server – Why do stars have colors? / red /blue /yellow/ searching for patterns in the magnitudes / "ra" and "dec" give the star's position, "type" tells you whether it is a star or a galaxy, and u,g,r,i, and z are the star's "magnitudes."

YELLOW: ra132.80285 / dec11.87843 / typeSTAR /u15.08 /g14.31 / r13.48 / i13.20 /z12.60

BLUE: ra132.95811 / dec11.82530 / typeSTAR / u15.48 / g14.81 / r14.87 / i14.35 / z13.68

LITE BLUE: ra133.13217 / dec11.57466 / typeSTAR / u15.06 /g12.28 / r11.72 / i11.70 / z13.89

ORANGE/RED: ra133.14095 / dec11.61485 / typeSTAR / u21.56 / g19.10 / r17.69 / i16.54 / z15.92

YELLOW: ra133.28105 / dec11.56615 / typeSTAR / u17.06 / g15.19 / r15.20 / i13.88 / z13.53

BLUE: ra133.26962 / dec11.58480 / typeSTAR / u15.64 / g14.61 / r12.56 / i14.51 / z14.07

RED: ra133.54453 / dec11.23368 / typeSTAR / u21.90 / g19.58 / r18.07 / i16.94 / z16.30

RED: ra133.72252 / dec10.99935 / typeSTAR / u22.66 / g19.67 / r18.24 / i16.89 / z16.19

[color is the difference in magnitude between two filters] [Magnitude is a number that measures the brightness of a star or galaxy. In magnitude, higher numbers correspond to fainter objects, lower numbers to brighter objects; the very brightest objects have negative magnitudes.] [The sun has magnitude of -26. The brightest star in the Northern sky, Sirius, has magnitude -1.5. The faintest object you can see with your eyes has a magnitude of about 6]

The definition of magnitude m in terms of radiant flux F is: m = -log2.51(F/FVega) / The star Vega in the northern hemisphere constellation Lyra is used as the standard for the magnitude system, so FVega means the amount of light arriving at Earth in a given time from Vega / FVega is like the zero point in Celcius

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light traveling through empty space / shorter wavelengths appear blue or violet, and longer wavelengths appear red.


All objects give off "thermal radiation" - light waves emitted from the random motions of atoms inside the object. As the atoms heat up, they move around more, and thus give off more radiation. As atoms heat up and move faster, the peak wavelength of their thermal radiation change / every object in the universe emits thermal radiation / different stars have different peak wavelengths of thermal radiation because they have different temperatures

Quantitatively, the relationship between temperature and peak wavelength of thermal radiation is:

lpeakT = 2.897 x 10 -3 m K, where lpeak is measured in meters and T is measured in degrees Kelvin
(273.15 K = 0 C = 32 F).