Gem from GK Chesterton

"A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it."

From The Everlasting Man

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Compendia vs CERN

The appeal of older scientific instruments are their craftsmanship . Not that craftsmanship is absent in the Large Hadron Collider.   Many old scientific instruments have an artistic element. Not that ground penetrating radar isn't artistic in its own way.  But the poster child of gorgeous historic instruments is a compendium: the swiss army knife of seventeenth and eighteenth centrury.     The flash exhibit of the Tobias Volkmer compendium at the Whipple Museum shows why. Within one box are tightly folded volvelles, calculators, quandrants, compass and other useful devices.  Yet gorgeous engravings and details overpower the utility.  I was so intrigued by these devices that it became imperative for a compdendium to figure  prominently in "A Body at Rest". But the novel has no ordinary compendium, it is Newton's own device.  And like the man himself, his compendium holds a few secrets.  


  1. I like the Sinical Quadrant.. very useful in math class, or in pitched water ballon battles.

  2. I can't find the cork screw or tooth pick anywhere on the gadget. Too bad.


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