Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Power of Wishful Thinking.

Greg Ross over at Futility Closet has this wonderful post today.

In 1610, thinking he had discovered two moons orbiting Saturn, Galileo composed a message:
ALTISSIMUM PLANETAM TERGEMINUM OBSERVAVI ("I have observed the most distant planet to have a triple form")

… and sent it to Kepler as an anagram:

Remarkably, Kepler managed to "solve" this as a message about Mars, not Saturn:
SALVE UMBISTENEUM GEMINATUM MARTIA PROLES ("Hail, twin companionship, children of Mars")

The German astronomer had predicted that the Red Planet had two moons, and imagined that Galileo was confirming his belief.

There's a message in this, somewhere.

Greg is on hiatus at the moment so he won't be updating his site for a while. Still, it is one of the neatest collections of weird and interesting facts I've ever come across. Definitely worth your time.

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