Monday , December 6 2021

The story of the man who designed spacecraft in 1657


Did you know that the first description of a machine specifically designed for space travel appeared in a book published in 1657?

It was a large enough drawer to accommodate a passenger, with a hollow glass roof that mirrors focused sun's rays.

The hot air inside the glass rose and came out through a pipe on top and to compensate came the air from within.

The aspiration of air, the inventor pointed out, pushed the machine upwards.

Here he described the start:

"suddenly I felt that I shaking stomach, like a man lifted by a rig.

I would open the door to discover the reason for that feeling, but as I stretched out my hand I noticed through the hole in the floor of my drawer that my tower was already far below me and my little castle in the air drifted under my feet gave me an instant glimpse of Toulouse flags into the earth".

While it is not clear how this vacuum-driven propulsion would work, it is striking that someone wondered about space travel in the mid-eighteenth century.

Who was the person who represented a vehicle to explore new worlds far from the earth?

He was a Frenchman whose name might be known: Cyrano de Bergerac.

But we are not talking about the great character that Gérard Depardieu represents in the movie with the name 1990, or Steve Martin in the 1987 movie "Roxanne".

Cyrano de Bergerac He was a person who really lived in the 18th century France.

And his life was in some way much more interesting than the romantic comedy.

Poet, dramatist, thinker and libertine

His name was Hercule-Savinien by Cyrano de Bergerac, and he really did not come from Bergerac, he simply accepted the elegant title because his Parisian family had a small farm in Gascony.

He was a soldier, player and duelist retired from military exploits because of his wounds around 1639, at the age of 20.

So he studied at the university and, judging his work, was well-known in his philosophical and scientific debates.

He repeated many genres. He wrote games, of which his modern Molière stole a scene. There were political satires and even published a collection of fictional love letters, which makes fun of the solemn love elector, through which the fictional character that carries his name is distinctive.

But perhaps his most successful piece was two books, called "The months and the empires"and its sequel"The states and empires of the sun".

No one was published during Cyrano's short life, but they were printed by one of his friends two years after his death in 1655.

Like Tomas Moros Utopia or Gulliver Travels, he mocks European Civilization by taking advantage of meetings with strangers, in this case aliens.

But in addition, the fantasies of the spacecraft of Cyrano de Bergerac left a scientific and technological heritage.

When Galileo discovered the moon

Traveling to the Moon was not an entirely original idea of ​​Cyrano.

Since Galileo Galilei in 1610 had surprised everyone with a small book describing what he had seen when turning his telescope against the natural satellite on earth, it was a fury to visit him.

The moon, the Italian scientist had announced, is not the smooth and perfect sphere that the Greek philosopher Aristotle had said it was. It's a world like ours.

"It has mountains and valleys," said Galileo, "clearly evident in the shadows thrown away when the moon meets the night."

Everyone talked about Galileo's new world, and some authors considered him a kind of other Christopher Columbus, a discoverer of new horizons.

Spanish on the moon

The most famous predecessor of Cyrano fictions was a book written in 1628 by an Englishman named Francis Godwin, who, since being bishop of Hereford, welcomed the new image of the cosmos Galileo suggested It did not have to be in conflict with religious beliefs.

Godwin's book is "The Man in the Moon" or "Man on the Moon". Your hero is a Spaniard named Domingo Gonsales, and travels in a spectacular way: hooks a cart to a river wild geese that migrates between the Earth and the Moon.

It was those who believed that there were indeed such migrations of animals, for at that time no one knew the space was missing air.

But the fantasy of Cyrano Moon is more ambitious.

It is a satire where the customs and characteristics of the communities that the traveler finds themselves is excesses or investments by us, which shows that, after all, they are all arbitrary.

It is the kind of ideology that the research age had developed by challenging ancient certainties.

Ironic and irreverent

We have incomplete information about the true Cyrano de Bergerac, but he judged from his books that he was an ironic, irreverent, but also intelligent and vast character.

In addition, Cyrano's insecure hero was probably self-portrait, because his name is practically an anagram: Dyrcona.

Animal cousine makes their first trips in a boat made of dew bottles, based on the idea that the dug dips because there is some kind of attraction towards the sun. That plan fails and crashes in Canada.

He then succeeds in reaching the moon thanks to a dragon between the moon and the bone marrow that Dyrcona rubbed his bruises to heal them.

Even if it It sounds like pure medieval superstition, is rather an expression of doubt without clarifying time.

Nature philosophers still did not understand the good forces in nature.

One thought, for example, that the mysterious force that causes a compass to point north showed that the earth itself was a giant magnet: a pretty crazy idea, which turned out to be true.

These same researchers were upset by gravity, resembling magnetism.

Of course, the Moon does not attract the bone marrow, but because other invisible forces in nature seemed so amazing and weird, it was not uncommon for them to consider it.

Challenge to the Holy

During his travels, Animal Cona is constantly conducting philosophical debates with other signs of scientific ideas.

In Canada, he argues with the viceroy if the earth is in the center of the universe, as Aristotle said, or the sun as Galileo insisted.

The same vacuum vessel as Animal Cone uses to go to the sun I challenged the idea of ​​Aristotle The empty emptiness was impossible in nature, a problem which at that time aroused hard arguments among natural philosophers.

To the Animal Conqueror, that thought had been transferred to him on the moon nobody other than Domingo Gonsales, the hero of Francis Godwin's previous book, which – in a wonderful fragment of meta-narratives – appears like a kind of mascot of the giant man-animal that controls the Moon.

Gonsales confesses to the Animal Conqueror that he left the earth in despair The Spanish Inquisition had suppressed its anti-Aristotelian views.

Flaming snowflakes

When the Animal Conqueror returns to the ground, he writes "The States and Empires of the Moon" and accuses him of being a magician so he leaves in his empty box to visit the sun and the empires in the sun, a "so bright country" – as he says "as looks like flaming snowflakes ".

Discover that this light earth is the place where souls go after people die on earth.

And while most souls join the sun, Philosophers survive. In the last sentences of the second book, which Cyrano de Bergerac could never complete, Animal Cona starts a dialogue with one of the famous philosophers.

"There are many things we read in his books that make us think"How modern!"but at that time they were dangerous," said Mary Baine Campbell from Brandeis University, Massachusetts, in the United States.

"At that time, people were interested in gravity because they wanted to leave the planet but I knew there was something that did not allow it.

"Although some of the methods Cyrano inventes for Animal Cows, comic – like duggers – others – like ship propulsadto of rockets It continued in steps and bounced off the burned parts as it went – proved to be things that we now know work.

"In addition, there are surprising data, for example, when Animal Cone misses a quarter of the trip to reach the moon, and finds that this is what draws it. mathematically correct, is very interesting because it means that the gravity of the earth is not unique and that other bodies can get it.

"But again I wrote that perhaps the Earth was not the center of the universe.

Notes of that style maintain and marvel us today but they were potentially dangerous. "

But Cyrano de Bergerac did not like his ideas.

He was the victim of a loose ray that fell on his head when he was 36 years old.

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