Recalling Experiments Past – Reciting poetry to a flame to see what happens

Somewhere round or about the late 1850s, John Tyndall FRS [* see note below] was developing and perfecting his experiments with “Sensitive Flames”. He describes one such experiment in his book ‘Sounds’ (p. 238). In which he reads a passage of poetry from Edmund Spenser’s ‘Belphœbe the Huntress’ to the flame (which he calls The Vowel-flame) […]

The Kidney Stone of Alderman Adams

The History of Parliament blog detects a connection between Ig Nobel Prize-winning roller-coaster/kidney stone research and, yes, the history of Britain’s parliament: The Kidney Stone of Alderman Adams The link between the Ig Nobel Prize for improbable research and the 1640-1660 Section of the History of Parliament Trust is not immediately obvious; but the Ig Nobel […]

“Ecco il fico” — Barbarossa, the fig, the bite, the thumb, and the mule

The phrase “Ecco il fico” has a particularly ripe meaning, writes Rob Chirico in the Strong Language blog: The year was 1162 when he returned and easily subdued the revolt. According to the chronicler Giambattista Gelli, Frederick [Frederick the First, Holy Roman emperor, also known as “Barbarossa”] got them back for the mule debacle, and then […]

Professor Wright meets Professor Wrong (Toronto, c. 1921)

If you’re looking for a (documented) example of an occasion when Professor Wright encountered Professor Wrong, then your search is over. One such event happened somewhere around March 1921, at the University of Toronto Winter Short Course for farmers. Here’s an account, in Volume XXI of the University of Toronto Monthly, March 1921, No. 6. […]