Der unsterbliche Lambert

Now where wuzz-ai. Hmm. In the weeds, I remember. The query posed by the longtime editor of the Journal for the History of Astronomy Michael Hoskin [in JF Linsky & S. Serio, eds, Physics of Solar and Stellar Coronae, Netherlands, Kluwer Academic, 1993, pp. 35-46, “Bode’s Law and the Discovery of Ceres,” quote on p. 39]

It is interesting to note that these numbers are not exactly the ones listed by Gregory and Wolff; nor do they follow from the actual distances published by Whiston, which would give 96 for Saturn in place of the 95 of Gregory and of the 100 of Titius.

This last, Dear Reader, Titius, refers to the first stating of What We Call Bodes’s Law, sozusagen. Longtime editor of said Journal for the History of Astronomy continued in the immediate following sentence:

But it seems that Wolff was indeed the immediate source for Titius, for in the fourth edition of his translation, by which time he was clearly identifying his own contributions as such, he adds the comment:

“This relationship and the related considerations which Herr Bonnet thought had first been observed by Herr Lambert had already been recited by Freyherr von Wolf in his German Physics more than forty years earlier.”

How Titius could declare that Bonnet had drawn his ideas of unknown planets from Lambert is unclear, though perhaps Titius and Bonnet may have corresponded over the translation; but this reference of Titius to Wolff [transcriber with a sigh says sic to the question of how the one f in Wolf could have become the two in Wolff] suggests that Wolff had indeed been Titius’s original source.

End of paragraph.

Your Intrepid Reporter begs leave to advise longtime editor of Journal for History of Astronomy that the Monatliche Correspondenz of the founder and first astronomer at the Seeberg [look, transcriber has no idea whether you can see the sea from there, he just writes the words and does not think about their meaning] announced to the deutschsprächender Welt, notice of the long-suspected New Planet [Ueber einen zwischen Mars und Jupiter längst vermutheten, nun wahrscheinlich entdecktens neuen Hauptplaneten unseres Sonnen-Systems], the first sentence of which reads

Dass zwischen Mars und Jupiter noch ein besonderer Hauptlasten unseres Sonnen-Systems

that is, so that my intellectually curious sophomore in high school can follow the discussion here, that is, That there must exist a yet-to-be found major planet (Hauptplaneten, which the computer changed to Hauptlasten) of our solar system between Mars and Jupiter, you see

befindlich seyn müsse,

where the elementary German teacher in me notes to my half-dozen students at Roosevelt High School that “seen” is pronounced just as and {omg! the verdammter machine viederum ir seyn seyn du verdummtes Komputador.} Sigh. Okay back to German, quoting Freyherr von Zach, organizer of the sogenannten Celestial Police in 1801

den man wegen seines matten Lichtes

that is, either because of its soft or dull [you know how that is, sharp is intelligent and quick-witted and dull is dim] light

und seiner geringen Grösse bis jetzt hat auffinden können

or because of its small size has remained unfound until now

hat unseres Wissens schon vor 40 Jahren

has to our knowledge already some forty years ago [drum-roll, please]

der unsterbliche Lambert [emph in orig -Tr] zuerst vermuthet

About M. Meo

Worked as translator, museum technician, truck lumper, lecture demonstrator, teacher (of English as a Second Language, science, math). Married for 25 years, 2 boys aged 18 & 16 (both on the Grant cross-country team). A couple of scholarly publications in the history of science. Two years in federal penitentiary, 1970/71, for refusing the draft.
This entry was posted in Astronomy, Education, Friendship, Global, Mathematics, Paul Forman, Scott Green, Seidel. Bookmark the permalink.

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