HoST Fall 2011

Week of 9/27-9/29

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Assignment 4

Cosmology – Geography – Time

:::::AV:Maps:Ancient- Roman:Agrippa's map; Peut's:Peutinger Map Talbot 2004 images:Original-Reconstruction-sm.jpg

Tabula Peutingeriana [detail]

Codex 324, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Hofburg, Vienna


Updated: 10/13/11 5:38 PM


Have you acquired Bown's book,

A Most Damnable Invention: Dynamite, Nitrates, and the Making of the Modern World?


There is a homework assignment due Thursday, but you might want to get started sooner.


For Tuesday


1-Read Lucretius Book I.  This was assigned for last Thursday, but we didn't get to it... so make sure you have it digested by today (Tuesday).  See Assignment 3 for a PDF of this first section if you still don't have a copy.


2- Read pp. 79-96 in McClellan and Dorn. 16pp (but lots of pictures)


3- Play with this animation of Ptolemy's cosmos.  ptolemy-comsmo-animation.sitx  You will have to download it, and then unstuff it, and then run the program.  Between the McClellan and Dorn reading and this animation, you should be prepared to answer some questions about Ptolemy's cosmic model.  First hit the play button in the upper left-hand corner of the animation.  It's a black triangle in a rectangular button. Then zoom into the earth using the "Scale" slider. Then slowly pull back.  The planetary bodies are in this order as you pull away from the earth:


This model clearly shows two of the three mechanisms used by Ptolemy to account for the irregularities of planetary motion.  It shows the epicycle and eccentric or each planet, but not the equant (so far as I can tell).


4- Look over this entire web page.


For Wednesday


1-Read this excerpt (pp. 125-131) on Galen: Lindberg_OnGalenExcerpt-1.5MB.pdf. Galen was probably the most important medical practitioner and theorist in history.  His anatomy was influential from the 2nd century AD until the 16th century.  His influence and longevity closely parallel the influence and longevity of Ptolemy.  7pp


2- Listen - Bragg, Melvyn. The Four Humors. Audio. London: BBC, 2009.  [45 minutes].  If you use this in an essay, be sure to identify the speaker (as best as you can) and identify approximately where in the recording the information can be found.  Here is the BBC site for this episode, with an overview and list of guests and other information: link.  This is one of my favorite episodes of all time. 

            Here is the actual audio file for download: IOT_ Four Humours.mp3

For Thursday


1- Read Book II in Lucretius' On the Nature of the Universe.


2- Homework assignment that everyone must do on Thursday.  I suggest you start it over before it's due.

a) Look at this map.  PeutingerMap-detail [1.1MB]  It is a small section from what is called the  Peutinger's Map.  [Link to the entire map -7.6MB]  It is probably a map that originates from 1st-century Rome and shows the entire Roman Empire and a bit more.  [If you are interested, here is a bit more information on the history of this map: PeutingerMapLectureNotes.htm] 

b) Now find a modern map of the same area... you could use GoogleEarth or whatever you wish.  Just find a modern map.

c) Now, on both maps find the following:

i) Nile River Delta

ii) the lighthouse at Alexandria

iii) the city of Antioch [Antiochia]

iv) and Jerusalem [Herusalem].  (Jerusalem is hard to find but if you look for appropriate geographical landmarks you should succeed.) 

d) Now prove to me that you have found these places on the Peutinger Map.  How you prove this is up to you.  You could just print it out and draw on it or you could import it into a graphics program and draw on it ... whatever.

e) Finally, write a couple of sentences with some observations you have made on how the Peutinger Map is organized/oriented/arranged.  Clearly the orientation is screwy.  You might find looking at the entire map useful to get the big picture.


[Remember, you need to do two of these by midterm, 4 total.]

Until further notice, you may write on either the present week's essay topics or the previous week's topics.

That means, if you wanted to write on Plato you still can, or you can write on this week's topics... or both.


Short Essay: Drawing on the readings and other activities from this week or last week, write up a short essay.  Tell me something new.  Cite everything.


Long Essay: Same idea but also using an additional source from below and twice as long.

Additional materials for Long Essay:


     -A description of Ptolemy’s astro-harmonic system. Claudius Ptolemy is from the 2nd century AD and lived in Alexandria, Egypt.  He wrote in Greek, lived under Roman rule, and lived in Egypt.  Newsome-PtolemysOverwhelmingOeuvreWeb.pdf  [1.4MB]  You can skip the section in blue, but feel free to read it if you like.


     -  Fleming, Donald. "Galen on the Motions of the Blood in the Heart and Lungs." Isis 46, no. 1 (1955): pp. 14-21. Fleming_GalenBloodmotioninheartlungs.pdf


     - Bragg, Melvyn. Pliny's Natural History. Audio. London: BBC, 2010.  [45 minutes].  If you use this, and quote from it, be sure to identify the speaker (as best as you can) and identify where in the recording it can be found.  Here is the BBC site for this episode, with an overview and list of guests: link.  Here is the actual audio file: IOT_ Pliny's Natural History 8 Jul 10.mp3  [24 MB]


     - Bragg, Melvyn. Archimedes. Audio. London: BBC, 2007.  [45 minutes].  If you use this, and quote from it, be sure to identify the speaker (as best as you can) and identify where in the recording it can be found.  Here is the BBC site for this episode, with an overview and list of guests: link.  Here is the actual audio file: IOT_ Archimedes.mp3 [16.8 MB]


     - Bragg, Melvyn. Prime Numbers. Audio. London: BBC, 2009.  [45 minutes].  If you use this, and quote from it, be sure to identify the speaker (as best as you can) and identify where in the recording it can be found.  Here is the BBC site for this episode, with an overview and list of guests: link. Here is the actual audio file: IOT_ Prime Numbers.mp3 [16.8MB]





Lindberg, David C. The Beginnings of Western Science : The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, 600 B.C. To A.D. 1450. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.


Lucretius Carus, Titus, R. E. Latham, and John Godwin. On the Nature of the Universe. Translated by R. E. Latham and with Introduction and Notes by John Godwin. Penguin Classics. New York: Penguin Books, 1994.


McClellan, James E., and Harold Dorn. Science and Technology in World History : An Introduction. Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, Date depends on your copy.


Bragg, Melvyn. The Four Humors. Audio. London: BBC, 2009.  [45 minutes].


Everybody should read over the following.... It's part of the assignment.



This is a harpsichord based on one from 1631, with 19 notes per octave.

So much energy was expended so that as many intervals as possible could be mathematically pure.


Here are some more Interesting keyboards that incorporate different tuning systems.


Here are some interesting images from the Greco-Roman world.

IMG_0009BoxersmRome         Boxer-hodges13

The Boxer

Roman bronze copy from the 1st c. BC of a Greek sculpture from ca. 225 BC by Apollonius(?)

Roman National Museum, Rome.  (Capitoline Museum-Termi Museum)

Most Greek sculptures you see in museums are actually Roman copies of Greek sculptures.  The Roman stylistic deviations from the originals are the subject of much scholarly discussion.



This detail shows cuts around his eyes and on his shoulder and his broken nose. Roman boxing was pretty brutal compared to the modern equivalent.  Look at the gloves he is using.  They would maximize damage, not minimize it.



[This image of the “gloves” is from another sculpture ???]



This is a wall painting from Pompeii from the 1st century AD.  Notice how the tools these carpenters are using are basically identical to tools that are still used by fine craftsmen today (as seen below).  It looks like the fellows using the saw are making planks.  They are certainly rip-sawing, which means sawing with the grain.


handplane_completed  FrameSaw Late17thc

Here is a modern wood-bodied plane.  It functions identically to the Roman one seen above. 

Also shown is a modern frame saw and another from the late 17th c. of a slightly different design.




This wall painting from Pompeii shows a woman tuning a lyre from some other stringed instrument which I do not recognize.  It is dated to ca. 35 AD. 



This is an model of the cosmos along Ptolemaic lines that I saw in the Vatican recently.  It didn’t have a label, so I can only guess that it is from the 15th or 16th century, but it could be later or perhaps earlier.  I think I see the equant or the eccentric demonstrated here just like in the animation from the assignment. 


This is for real, a zorse (zebra-horse) named Eclyse.

Could it be that some of us have some Neanderthal in us?

Chimeras are discussed by Lucretius in Book III.

 Carroll-Hybrids May Thrive Where Parents Fear to Tread-NYTimes



Back to HoST Fall 2011 Syllabus



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Interesting Sciencey News

–If you run across an interesting story, let me know–


Scientists think they have observed neutrinos moving faster than the speed of light: Overbye-NeutrinosFasterThanLight?


Profile of Richard Dawkins – evolutionary biologist, atheist.  Dawkins is well known as an unashamed atheist.  You would think he might mention Lucretius...: Powell-Dawkins-OriginalThinkerWhoBashesOrthodoxy-9.2011.html

Before Dawkins got all evangelical about atheism, he wrote a couple of really amazing books: The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker.  I highly recommend both of them.  They describe Darwinian evolution in terms of modern genetic theory.  The Blind Watchmaker was one of the books that got me interested in going back to school to study science.


Garibaldi, the George Washington of Italy, considered leading the Union army in the Civil War.


Review materials- 4-Aristotle-Humours-Elements-Eratosthenes.pdf [1.3 MB]