Saturday, May 17, 2014

Congrats, Class of 1595!

Sure, my iPad has all that sleek design mojo going for it, but if you want to find a scientific toy with some real artsy cred, you have to head back to the days of the Renaissance:

This astronomical compendium, known to have been owned by Grand Duke Ferdinand I de' Medici in 1595, contained several instruments cleverly folded within the small case, including a sundial, various lunar and solar volvelles, a compass, tables of latitude, and a perpetual calendar. Volvelles are wheel charts that are sometimes thought of as analog computation machines; lunar and solar volvelles helped the user determine the position of the moon or the sun.

There is a Windows version which, of course, snaps shut at random intervals for no reason whatsoever.

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