Johannes Kepler

The best biography of Kepler is that by Arthur Koestler (online), “The Sleepwalkers”. Kepler was Imperial Mathematician to the Emperor Rudolf II in Prague, and his successors Mathias and Ferdinand II. This is a post similar to Civil List Scientist. Kepler was supposed to be paid well but the money often never appeared. The Civil List Pension on the other hand has been incremented several times and over a sufficient number of years is quite a nice amount of money (by my miniscule standards). In Faraday’s time (a predecessor on the Civil List) it was enough to live on every year, but Parliament has allowed it to be eroded by inflation to an honorarium. Nevertheless it is greatly appreciated because it recognises pure merit at the highest State level. Kepler also advised Wallenstein and invented the Keplerian telescope. On Feb. 4th 1600 Kepler met the volatile aristocrat Tycho Brahe, the then Imperial Mathematician, at Benatky nad Jizerou, 35 km from Prague, where Brahe had his observatory. Brahe was minus half his nose from a duel. Kepler wrote an essay to the Archduke Ferdinand in an attempt to obtain a position at court. In this essay appears the first idea of “force”: “In terra inest virtus quae Lunam ciet” – “There is a force in the Earth that causes the Moon to move.” On Oct. 24th 1601 he was appointed as the successor to Brahe as Imperial Mathematicus. He is vividly described by Koestler in his book, “The Sleepwalkers” (online). Arthur Koestler was a refugee from central Europe and wrote the novel “Darkness at Noon”. The new universal law of gravitation which I discovered recently with key graphical input from Horst Eckardt and Ray Delaforce at AIAS now explains this force and forges a new type of cosmology of great richness. Kepler had his troubles with the academics of his time, now long forgotten. He was prohibited from remaining in Graz in Austria because he was a Lutheran, but now I think that a University is named there after him. His own University of Tuebingen refused throughout his life to offer him a post – my own University College at Aberystwyth has done the same in its ineluctable wisdom. Nothing new about human nature, sometimes I find nature a lot more interesting, but then some pleasant happening and a lot of good friends rekindle optimism about human nature. And so it goes on ….. There is also now a Kepler Gymnasium (Grammar School) in Tuebingen, which no doubt mentions Kepler at every opportunity. Similarly Swansea makes a great deal out of Dylan Thomas, but did not help him in any way during his lifetime. I know from first hand experience that the attitudes towards Dylan were sometimes very sour. Similarly Salzburg applied the boot to Mozart, literally, but now saturates the tourists. I find all this to be very amusing by now. The reason for it is that people want to think safely in order to get a nice pension at the end of a quiet life. I cannot blame people for that. However there are other ways of getting a pension, given a Prime Minister


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