Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Leeuwenhoek, a story worth knowing:
#1
That name is so hard to pronounce, or even spell, that for the sake of this thread, I will refer to him as "Lee".

In 1665, he wrote a bestseller called "Micrographia".

Lee was a Dutchman of simple means; not a proper scientist; didn't speak Latin; wasn't a member of the club.
His hobby was making lenses..and he got very good at it...much better than anyone else in the world at the time.

With his awesome lenses, he was able to build a microscope that could glimpse into a vast world, yet unseen by any other human on Earth, or in the history of the Earth.
He was the first to witness protozoans. naturally, he was pretty excited about this new universe that lurked so abundantly, just out of sight, prior to his lenses and scopes.

At the time, the best scopes could magnify 20-50 times, at best. His did 270 times.
Though not a trained scientist, he sure acted like one; taking copious notes and making excellent drawings of what he saw.
He looked at all manner of substance, including stuff he scraped from his own teeth, as well as drops of rain water.
Every where he looked, he saw more and more of this vast invisible world.
Being as he wasn't a fellow of the scientific institute, he wasn't able to get their attention at first, so instead he shared the view with various lay people that he encountered.

The 2nd human on Earth to witness this new world of little beasties was probably a janitor. We can't know for sure.

What I find extra-extraordinary about Lee's story, and why it really should be a major motion picture by now, is the suddenness and the gravity of what he, and he alone, first witnessed. There is almost no doubt that any one else on Earth had simultaneously made this discovery. In fact, it took more than 100 years before other microscopes caught up to his.

I'm a sucker for science history stories, and 'eureka' moments in time...but for a guy that most have never heard of, his story, imho, is in a league of its own. He alone, took the first glimpse into a whole new world. And had to carry that weight and enthusiasm, by himself, for many years, before gaining recognition and an honorary membership to the royal sciency mucky-mucks.

Why do i feel that Lee's story is special?

because, in other realms of science, breakthroughs of this scale are very incremental, and very much a group effort.
As an example of what I'm trying to express, take astronomy, for instance:

All of us could see stars at night, and surely the moon. before telescopes, people had witnessed lunar eclipses. We could see that realm; we were aware of it...we just couldn't see much detail.
Along come the telescopes; advancing quite linearly, and we could see more and more of what we already knew, more or less, was out there.

Discovering a new mammal or a new cave can be amazing for a scientist, or even a farmer...but it's not the same. We already knew that caves and mammals exist.

Lee discovered the equivalent of the first cave, and hundreds of new animals, all at once. It must have been utterly overwhelming.
I can think of no one else who may have been faced with a discovery so new; so huge; and so stunning, in all of the science history literature that I'm aware of...and yet, his story is so relatively unknown.

So, here's a toast to him and his lenses and his curiosity.

Neat guy; had to share.
Reply
#2
I'll raise a glass to him. Thanks Stanky.

I like these stories too. I was prepared to be bored by that TV movie Longitude. But the sheer determination and skill of John Harrison who made the chronometers which made navigation and cartology more accurate and sea travel safer wasn't dull at all.

I keep reminding people that they are the first human generations ever to watch history being made from our loungechairs, to have seen the far side of the moon, and the mountains of Mars from ground level.
The first to see what 'Lee' saw, the unimaginable 'universe' of life we carry with us every moment of our lives without having to be scientists. We can see those from our loungechairs too.
The first to see both the macro and microcosm of the universe. How astronomical are the odds that we should be the ones alive at the right time to be the first to have access to that knowledge?

Most people just look at me strange.

Then they go and watch the Kardashians.
Reply
#3
Thanks, Di.
You make me feel less geeky about this sort of stuff.

Fun to hear about you being pleasantly surprised by John Harrison (whom I'd never heard of before now; or that movie) but no matter.
There are so many significant players in the accumulated knowledge which we've now come to expect, without having any knowledge of ourselves,

me, for instance.
here i am, using this device, and I've almost purposely avoided any understanding of how it works.
I avoided understanding computer workings because i knew it was too big, and if i learned more about how it works, i would have no time left for my tree frog studies, much less my extraordinary doting on Mary, night and day.

Did you ever have that? Wherein you knew that there were only so many areas of interest that you could possibly achieve an understanding of, and then a new one comes up, and you have to pick and choose. You can't learn everything.

In my own case, i can humbly state that i know a hell of a lot about many nuts and bolts type stuff and how things work and shit.
However, i consciously chose, as a kid, to not learn about internal combustion engines. I was busy learning other stuff, and I had to chose things to sacrifice, due to time, if nothing else. Gasoline engines never appealed to me, either, as a kid. They still don't, even though my life has been steeped in them ever since...and i still have a pretty poor sense of exactly what's going on in there when one won't work.
I'm no internal combustion engine mechanic, that's for sure...even though i grok all the levers and pulleys of it.

By the time I was in school of age to use a car, i was learning about fuel cells and chemical oxidation of hydrocarbons and high efficiency with minimal waste heat. Why would I learn about lawn mower engines from the dark ages? There's only so many hours in a day.
How dumb of me to develop such a mental block. 50 years later, I'm still surrounded by and dependent on very primitive engines that i've neglected to study adequately. If you're riding with me and the car breaks down, we're leaving it on the side of the road and heading into the woods, wherein I'll quickly assemble everything you need except that car. I don't love them enough, even though i use them. I love bikes and boats and paragliders and shit like that. maybe you have to love something to learn about it.

By the time the internet came along, i was too old and stupid to even pretend to know how it works (in the nuts and bolts way) or have much desire to do so. I don't hate the tek of it, like i do with internal combustion engines...it's just that it's over my head, or too much to dip into...and if i did, i'd have to quit frogs, or something equally nutty.

mental blocks are real. maybe they are a phenomena of sub-consciously weighing one's time divided by one's innate inclinations.
I've got a pretty good handle on every step of the way of that power cord that's plugged in my lap-top...but once the juice goes inside of it, I'm nearly clueless. I don't even want to know, which is crazy...but i feel like there's so many people that do know, that we have it covered.
And i can take notes on my frog eggs hatching.

i wonder if most people suffer from this sort of crazy? Here's another prime example of my own mental block, or lethargy; whatever:
I write a lot. And I can't touch type. I do 2 fingers; hunt and peck. wtf is up with that? How hard could it be to learn, right?
It's like I don't want to learn that. Sure, maybe I could. But i was taught that typing is for secretaries, and not for smart kids.

There's some classic stupidity for you.

Oops. Off topic wallowing rant. What I wanted to say is how fascinating the stories of ground-breaking mathematicians are. You'd assume them to be the dullest of all possible stories, but it's not like that at all. They're more like astronauts of the inner workings of our brains.
They frequently will dedicate their lives to a single unobtained solution to a very abstract problem that can't possibly be of any significance in the big picture.

Takes a very unusual sort of human; true freaks.
Reply
#4
(02-19-2017, 11:17 PM)stanky Wrote:  Thanks, Di.
You make me feel less geeky about this sort of stuff.

Fun to hear about you being pleasantly surprised by John Harrison (whom I'd never heard of before now; or that movie) but no matter.
There are so many significant players in the accumulated knowledge which we've now come to expect, without having any knowledge of ourselves,
We are a very ungrateful technology reliant lot.  People seem to think it just happened, or god did it.

Did you see his clock in motion?   I found there was just something beautiful about it.  Kind of exquisite. Like a work of art.  The story of how long and hard it was to perfect that opposing balance balls rig (dunno the term) to offset the movement of a ship was kind of the nub of the Tele movie.   But just look at 'em in action, .. or maybe it's just me.
The skill to make something as millimetre perfect 300 years ago just blows me away.

This is a vid of a replica ..   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-v4VqCd71Q
This is one of the real thing     https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/82190761930314691/



Quote:Did you ever have that? Wherein you knew that there were only so many areas of interest that you could possibly achieve an understanding of, and then a new one comes up, and you have to pick and choose. You can't learn everything.

Yes, I had that epiphany in high school.  I wanted to be everything.  Paleontologist, Archeologist, Anthropologist, Astro-phycicist,  Naturalist,  and  Geologist.   I wanted to be allll of them. 

But I had a moment of lucidity.   "You idiot, you can't ever qualify in any of them!  You can't always replicate the result of adding 2 + 2, how the hell are you going to do the numbers involved in researching anything??"

Answer being ... "why didn't I think of that earlier?" Blush

But the solution very soon cut the disappointment short. 
 
I didn't have to study any of  them to know what the people who have dedicated their lives to researching the subjects  know.   I only had to read the results and findings they'd put all the work into.

So I did.  While the other girls were buying true romance mags I was buying science ones.  

I never was or will be a scientist, nor have the slightest clue in how they reach their findings , but I can read, and I can form mind pictures of what they're talking about.   Maybe that's my talent?  Being able to visualise the form and it's place in 'the picture' of something that's way beyond my true understanding?  I may be one of those idiot savants?  well mathematics idiot anyway.

I'd never discover something new and get my name in the books, but it was all to satisfy my own curiosity anyway so that didn't matter a damn. 



Quote:By the time the internet came along, i was too old and stupid to even pretend to know how it works (in the nuts and bolts way) or have much desire to do so. I don't hate the tek of it, like i do with internal combustion engines...it's just that it's over my head, or too much to dip into...and if i did, i'd have to quit frogs, or something equally nutty.
....
mental blocks are real. maybe they are a phenomena of sub-consciously weighing one's time divided by one's innate inclinations.
Mental blocks are very real.  You feel sorry (I hope) for moi who cannot love nor master  mathematics past about    8 to 10 year old level.   I'm out after long division.

I have sympathy for dyslexics.  To me the inability to read and wallow in words and to express themselves that way seems a cruel disadvantage.  

I was too old for computers too.  I could drive 'em but like cars I have no idea what makes them tick.

Quote:I write a lot. And I can't touch type. I do 2 fingers; hunt and peck. wtf is up with that? How hard could it be to learn, right?

It's like I don't want to learn that. Sure, maybe I could. But i was taught that typing is for secretaries, and not for smart kids.

Touch typing was bloody hard to learn, or was for me with a short attention span. 
It involves training the brain to form new connections and  like playing piano, takes hours of practice to become 'automatic'.   But I've seen 2 and 3 finger typists who could pace me on a teleprinter.

Their skill though depended on being able to see the keyboard.  Even just enough  to gauge on what part of it the key they wanted was located.   It's a different skill.  They had  great memories, they could scan the text and remember whole sentences at a glance and then type them.  I could never do that, I followed text word by word, 'streaming'.

Trainee touch typists were (in my day, and at school)  fitted with black bibs which went from our necks and attached to the top of the typewriter so that we couldn't even see the keyboard, let alone the keys.

We found the 'home keys' by the little bumps on them, like braille!  And that forced us to connect the chart of where the keys were with the fingers that were specially designated to it's range of keys.  We had to think about which muscles would trigger the right finger for the right key. 

That's what trained the brain to allow our eyes to remain on the text we were copying while sending signals to the   fingers to produce the copy eventually by reflex.   .. very involved really, more so than it appears.

 But that was back in the 50s there are probably better training methods around now.  Lucky them!

I was able to type a full foolscap page of a report and when I'd finished not remember a single sentence of it or even what it was about.  It was a purely automatic action.  Different of course when you're typing from your own mind,   just as fast, but it takes an awful lot more editing 'cos sometimes you write stuff you didn't think you were thinking... too Rumsfeldish?
  
Unless you're making a living out of typing fast, I wouldn't worry about it Stanky.


Quote:Oops. Off topic wallowing rant. What I wanted to say is how fascinating the stories of ground-breaking mathematicians are. You'd assume them to be the dullest of all possible stories, but it's not like that at all. They're more like astronauts of the inner workings of our brains.

They frequently will dedicate their lives to a single unobtained solution to a very abstract problem that can't possibly be of any significance in the big picture.

Takes a very unusual sort of human; true freaks.
You may say that ground-breaking mathematician stories are fascinating.  Just don't expect me to agree. Angel

I admire the dedication and the IQ, but the subject leaves me cold.
Reply
#5
I bet you'd be surprised. The story is in the humans and the dedication...forget about numbers, love.
With the numbers gone, it's like reading about the first expedition to the South Pole. Not as cold, but it does kill people.

Funny about typing and my mental block...maybe it's analogous to my problem with internal combustion engines. Once you become aware of their pathetic efficiency limits, you tend to drift away.

Because of how bizarre my dad was (he encouraged us lads to learn Esperanto, for instance, in the 50's, because the idea of an easy universal language just made sense. He wasn't even wrong, really) I became aware of how and why the keyboards we still use are set up the way that they are. And it is insanely primitive. I'm sure you know about this.
Early typewriters with the qwerty keyboard were designed to be slow enough that the keys wouldn't jamb.
They were designed for the limits of the manual tek of the day. And they persist, well beyond any possible reason for it.

Lest any lurker think I exaggerate the point, look at your keyboard.
On the top row, you'll find all the letters needed to type the word "Typewriter".
The reason for that arrangement was for the sake of the typewriter salesmen that went door to door, selling these new devices...and they needed to be able to type the word "Typewriter" easily and quickly, to make the sale.

Can you think of any other aspect of such commonly used technology that remains tethered to such an archaic sensibility?
It really remains singularly bizarre.

Maybe what I'm saying is that I refused to learn it because I already knew how stunningly stupid it was.

It still is stunningly stupid, of course. That much hasn't changed.
But now I feel stunningly stupid for not wanting to yield to that which is stunningly stupid and so enduring.

Hence, it's me that is the stunningly stupid one, for assuming that stunningly stupid stuff couldn't possibly last.
And now, I can't type for shit.
Or fix a dead lawn mower engine.

(Is this the most arrogant confession of humility you've ever heard?)

Oh, wait...

Know what else I don't know shit about?

Guns.

They just seemed like really stupid devices, even as a kid.
Now, they seem even stupider.

But how would I know? I never was very smart, and I've only got much stupider with time.

If i had any brains, i would have posted the story of 'Lee', and left it at that.
What kind of idiot feels compelled to expose and explain his own idiocy in lurid detail?

Well, gotta go. My drool bucket is over flowing again, and Mary refuses to dump it for me.

It's not easy being human, I've heard.
Reply
#6
Probably because it's what I was taught to use the Qwerty keyboard it makes pretty good sense for the English language.

A couple of letter combinations are trickier than usual but mostly it seems 'normal' to me.
I'm not sure about that 'typewriter' on the top line reason.  We were told, and it makes sense that the letters are spread in that order to prevent keyjamming as much as possible, and also to spread the load over both hands.

There is one surprise resulting from  my having worn the numbers completely off some keys on my laptop, they're just plain black now.

Some are like new, but the gorrn ones are

A E I  and this is the surprise.  L.  Maybe I type Leftie too often???  [Image: happy-smiley27.gif]  I'd expect the vowels to be used most except U, but L ?

The 3/4 gone ones are also a little surprising.  C.  O.  and N.   The punctuation keys are in sad state too but it's the letters that are interesting to me.  C in particular.   I wonder if a person's vocabulary choices play part in what letters are used most?  Is it a kind of 'profile' of the writer?   

This astounding piece of insightful research is no doubt riveting to no one at all, but I just had to share stuff about the Qwerty.  

But you're right that before electric keyboards  some keys did jam solid on typewriters despite the inventor's best efforts.  
To take trivia to the extreme,  it even happened on teleprinters, well to the baudot tape they spat out.

Most of us could, or close to,   pace the teleprinter speed, type at the same speed that the paper tape was read by the machines.

But some combinations of letters if typed too fast would cause the machine to combine  the letters' codes and punch the holes for both into one column which made an error,  or worse if the combination made the column code which changed letters to numbers.  It was a nuisance then that the tape had to be recut,  but it was mildly satisfying to 'beat the machine'.

Small smug moments are sweet.    and boring to everyone else.
Reply
#7
Rest assured love, that post wasn't boring to me.

(To everyone else? Sure. They aren't insane.)

But you know what I loved about it?
Your analyses of the way in which your keys have become worn. That was great.
It was the science geek in you, busting out.

Because I only use 2 fingers, I can't really speak to the anomalies you've uncovered.
But here's a thought:

Maybe it has something to do with the nature of your finger tips, and not so much the language?
You know that finger between the 'fuck you' finger and the pinky?

I hypothesize that said finger is our cleanest finger. I almost never use mine. I would never pick my nose with that finger, or use it to scrape crud from some surface. It mostly just sits there.

I would think that maybe the typewriter keys it is used for (if you know how to type) might be the keys that are the lesser worn ones.

But what the hell would I know about it? I can't even type. I type like a dumb cop on a tv cop show. They always suck at typing.

(btw, my typing is my only cop-like behavior. I've never even pulled someone over for speeding or stolen their illegal drugs.)

Gosh...

sciency shit is so cool!

(having a small smug moment, and it are sweet.)

I wish i had some Cheezels.
Reply
#8
Quote:But here's a thought:


Maybe it has something to do with the nature of your finger tips, and not so much the language?
You know that finger between the 'fuck you' finger and the pinky?

Good theory., That finger was considered the weakest, or the least dextrous, there are things that it can't do as well as the others so it got lesser used or easier letters.  Unfortunately one of those is L  which is worn off.
Another is S which appears more often than L yet isn't worn off.     Sorry about the theory.

Here's another funny thing, I had to do quick test to check  out which other letters those pinky partner fingers cover!
 Typing is so automatic now that I can't remember consciously which finger does what! Huh   

Something I do now that was never done in my working life is rest my wrists on the laptop while typing.  That may be changing the angle of the fingers.  Wrist resting slows typing speed and buggers up the accuracy also.  I've gotten old and lazy.  Confused Blush
Reply
#9
Meanwhile, we do have saner options for keyboard configurations. But old habits die hard.
For that matter, I've long been a proponent of cleaning up our language so it doesn't have so many internal contradictions and baffling spellings.

It's always amazed me how much people hate that sort of thinking.
"It's the Queen's English! Learn it!"

Well, fuck the queen. I'm not her subject.

Which is sooo wrong to say.
It's up there with questioning the mandatory suit and tie.

"Why do we have to wear that?"

"Shut up and eat your possum innerds!"

I do take issue with institutionalized irrationality. And it isn't hard to find some.

Some stuff, like foot-binding, or head-shaping, or neck lengthening, is falling away from favor.

But there's still plenty left where it came from.

I'm so wrong about so much stuff, that it's just as well that I'm tucked away.
If I see a woman wearing spike heels, for instance, my gut reaction is "I see that you're a crazy person. Perhaps I could help you?"

Instead, we're so civilized now that it barely occurs to us that wearing really ridiculous shoes is a sign of mental illness.
Instead, you'd have to be mentally ill to suggest that wearing insane shoes is a sickness.
Why on earth would any one wear a tie around their neck? It seems so fundamentally nutty to me, that all I can figure is that to do so is an easily identifiable symbol of being with the crazy team.

All world leaders (with a few exceptions) must now don such apparel.
If they didn't, we couldn't take them seriously.

fuck that.
If I ever vote again, it will require a candidate that is willing to demonstrate a basic level of sanity.
Red tie or blue tie?

nope.

High heels?
Sorry.

Those are symbols of the insanity of being owned by the sort of insane convention that has us all stranded here, on the shores of Armageddon.

The world desperately needs to grow a pair, as they say.
Reply
#10
Boy, am I opinionated.

I guess shit feels so far gone to me now, that I see no reason to hang back.
Fuck all this stodginess. Fuck dresing up for church as if god will be offended if you don't. That sort of bland compliance tends to gain momentum over the ages, until we find ourselves at a juncture like this, where a stanky atheist is willing to say "I'd consider going to church if I can go naked."

"What? Are you insane!!??"

Not really. But you might be. Care to discuss it?

I really wouldn't have any issue with mass insanity if it wasn't so ugly and mean.
If men wore ties, for instance, as a joke...that would be ok.
But if they wear them because they'd be fired from their job if they didn't, well, I'm off the team.
Reply


Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)