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Archive for the 'history' Category

Newton and the Counterfeiter (Book Review)

Thursday, November 5th, 2020

Newton and the Counterfeiter book cover

We all know the old Isaac Newton (1643-1727) story about the apple falling from the tree and his epiphany about gravity. Only it was more of a process over years to discover and prove the case for a mathematical explanation of the World, the Universe and all That. Newton, first and foremost, in his early 20s was at the forefront of mathematical thinking in Europe. He was, this book suggests, the greatest mathematician of his time. He authored the PhilosophiƦ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Latin for Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy). He sought to explain God into the Universe, but never did. A man of thought and philosophy, not of people. In his entire eight decades of existence only one other human being was sought, for a while, for human companionship. That was Isaac Newton. But what about after his mathematical elevation into history?

The Royal Mint. From 1696 Issac Newton became the Warden of the Royal Mint in the Tower of London, becoming Master of the Royal Mint in 1699. This book, Newton and the Counterfeiter by Thomas Levenson, is set in the time of Newton’s position as Warden of the Royal Mint and his quest to solve the clipping problem in England’s currency. Clipping was the practice of snipping small bits off the side of English coins that devalued their worth on a weight-for-value basis. This silver was remelted and made into fake currency. At this point the estimation was that around 10 per cent of England’s currency was fake.

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My Father & a Friend Smoking Tobacco (circa 1950)

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

My father was a working man. He left school at the end of Grade 6 to help support his large impoverished family and I have a lot of respect for that. This photograph was scanned from a 6cm x 9cm film negative made by my paternal grandmother Elvie Ruth Bonner (1901-1986). My father is the guy on the right with a cigarette and I’m not sure who the other guy was to him or why my grandmother made this photograph. The date would have been very close to 1950.

Longitude (Book Review)

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Longitude by Dava Sobel

The sailor in my bones called out to read Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of his Time by Dava Sobel. The longitude problem had plagued seafaring civilisations since Ptolemy. It was a scientific problem that eluded answers until, in 1773, an Englishman named John Harrison, after forty years of experimentation, development and political warfare, claimed the 20,000 pound reward put forward by the Longitude Act 1714. This was the pressing scientific question of the age.

Consider the scientific simplicity of the latitude problem that can be understood through cosmic cycles including the length of a day or the height of the sun or by identifying known stars above the horizon. Latitude is a series of concentric circles that include the Equator where the Sun passes closest to the Earth and the tropics of Capricorn and Cancer that respectively mark the sun’s extremes of journey from Southern-most-to-Northern-most traverse. Latitudes are a series of parallel lines around the planet. Any sailor could know their latitude, how high up or low down a parallel line they were traversing, because latitude is fixed by the laws of nature. But consider the complexity of determining longitude.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark and I live in the Derwent Valley in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a mazer & a yeast farmer (making beer, fruit wine and mead as by-products of continuous improvement in my farming practices). I'm a photographer, although my film cameras are currently silent. I do not tolerate idiots. I do not tolerate bigotry. I do not tolerate excuses. Let's be clear, if you sit with my enemies you my are my enemy for life.

Blogger. Thinker. Brewer. Drinker. Life partner to the amazing and incredible Megan.

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