Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Raise a Glass to New Horizon!

With the Pluto flyby last night, which I find very exciting, I wanted to pay tribute to astronomy, and found this quaint bit from the 18th Century. Apparently there is a Astronomer's Drinking Song, sung at a dinner in 1798 at the Mathematical Society in London, to honor Mr. Fletcher, the society's solicitor. The society had begun giving public lectures on mathematical or philosophical subjects. An action was brought against the organization for holding unlicensed public forums. The charge was £5000. Mr. Fletcher refused to pay! And so in his honor as a tribute, the drinking song was composed!

Here below is a good deal of it!

Whoe'ver would search the starry sky,
Its secrets to divine, sir,
Should take his glass - I mean, should try
A glass or two of wine, sir!
True virtue lies in golden mean,
And man must wet his clay, sire;
Join these two maxims, and 'tis seen
He should drink his bottle a day, sir!

Old Archimedes, reverend sage!
By trump of fame renowned, sir,
Deep problems solved in every page,
And the sphere's curved surface found, sir;
Himself he would have far outshone,
And borne a wider sway, sir
Had he our modern secret known,
And drank a bottle a day, sir!

When Ptolemy, now long ago,
Believed the earth stood still, sir!,
He never would have blundered so,
Had he but drunk his fill, sir:
He'd then have felt it circulate,
And would have learnt to say, sir,
The true way to investigate
Is to drink your bottle a day, sir!

Copernicus, that learned wight,
The glory of his nation,
With draughts of wine refreshed his sight,
And saw the earth's rotation;
Each planet then its orb described,
The moon got under way, sir;
These truths from nature he imbibed
For he drank his bottle a day, sir!

(more vodka needed)

The noble Tycho placed the stars,
Each in its due location;
He lost his nose by spite of Mars,
But that was no privation;
Had he but lost his mouth, I grant
He would have felt dismay, sir,
Bless you! he knew what he should want
To drink his bottle a day, sir!

Cold water makes no lucky hits;
On mysteries the head runs:
Small drink let Kepler time his wits
On the regular polyhedrons:
He took to wine, and it changed the chime,
His genius swept away, sir,
Through area varying as the time
At the rate of a bottle a day, sir!

(Many more verses continue the chronology; then the final verse)

How light we reck of those who mock
By this we'll make to appear, sir,
We'll dine by the sidereal clock
For one more bottle a year, sir:
But choose which pendulum you will,
You'll never made your way, sir,
Unless you drink - and drink your fill, -
At least a bottle a day, sir.

So, with that, I think it's time to toast one up to NASA's New Horizon team and their incredible flyby accomplishment.

No comments:

Post a Comment