Wednesday, December 1, 2010
NASA has news from 1689
In 1689 the Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens wrote a book in Latin called “Cosmostheoros”.
This translates into “The theory of the Cosmos” and contains his speculations on the construction of the universe and the habitability of the planets as deduced from his own observations and those of other astronomers in his days.
This book, the “Cosmostheoros” was an immediate success: shortly after the Latin edition of the Cosmotheoros was published by the The Hague publisher Adriaan Moetjens, translations appeared in English (1698) and in Dutch (1699).
In the following years, translations also appeared in French (1702), German (1703), Russian (1717) and in Swedish (1774).
“Cosmostheoros” is an amazing book because Huygens explained in 1689 that water could be found on other planets.
And life as well.
He even explained how we should imagine plants and animals on other planets:
Plants and Animals on the Surface of the Planets, that deserve as well to be provided for by their Creator as ours do: but why must they be of the same nature with ours?
Nature seems to court variety in her Works, and may have made them widely different from ours either in their matter or manner of Growth, in their outward Shape, or their inward Contexture; she may have made them such as neither our Understanding nor Imagination can conceive.
And Huygens goes on to prove that this theory is correct.
It is a good idea to keep the “Cosmostheory” in mind when tomorrow NASA holds a press conference promising exciting news.
It will be about life on other planets but if we realize that this is known as of 1689, over 300 years, the excitement NASA is trying to create around the news conference is totally unjustified.
But NASA depends on money from the US-Government and the more relevant NASA seems, the better are their chances for funding.
So, tomorrow, NASA’s new discovery is about whipping cream.