December 27, 2008

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Happy Birthday Johannes

Apollo 12 image (AS12-52-7745) from NASA History Office

438 years ago this morning, a genius was born who was also a sick-minded individual who may have even been a murderer. Johannes Kepler became famous for his discovery of the three laws of planetary motion and his pioneering work in optics, and he even wrote one of the first science fiction books - about the Moon. But like Newton, Kepler had a dark side. He was prickly, deceptive, a thief, lusted after glory and was full of rage. And yet despite being bereft of any morality he was a brilliant scientific genius. People who distrust science might say, Of course, just like von Braun using slave labor to build rockets. But I think these are gross aberrations, many standard deviations away from normal human and scientific behavior. Kepler was honored with a minor crater in the Ocean of Storms, whereas his putative victim Tycho received the most prominent crater on the Moon, with two bright rays pointing (accusingly?) right to Kepler.

Chuck Wood

Related Links
Rükl plate 30
Kepler song
Interview with proponents of Kepler being a killer

Yesterday's LPOD: Lunar Education

Tomorrow's LPOD: Contrast


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