Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Anders Celsius [Celsius temperature scale]...scifi writer or dreamy speculator?

The translated text...

When astronomy has reached so far that we are sure of the status of the inhabitants of the planets; and physics is so forward that we find ways to travel from Earth to the planets, they none-the-less begin to make war in the air and trade and navigate on the planets, and thus they want to conquer each other. Later Earth will be considered as a united realm in opposing e g the Kingdom of Mars. They will then find out how to make alliances with each other, e g Mercury, Venus and Tellus, on one side, and on the other side Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. But as Jupiter and Saturn has conquered so many small kingdoms on their satellites; Mercury, Venus and Tellus would then likely oblige the inhabitants of the Sun to be on their side to keep the balance in the Solar system, and instead they now have Europa. By the way, if science would become as advanced that we could trade with other planetary systems, e g Sirus, our system would then once again be considered as one Kingdom, and then wars start between different systems, and so on ad infinitum. But since you cannot travel between systems in shorter time than a few hundred years, medicine should be improved so that people could become as old as during the time of the Patriarchs.

Who did originally think you could sail the seas, so you couldn’t see see land? Who thought you could begin to do battle on water? Now we have little belief in that people in due time could sail and battle in the air. It could be possible that flesh and skin would become transparent. If one in the future could imagine such people and animals, it would become a possibility for an excellent novel – medicine would then make people long-lived.

Rough translation by Ahrvid Engholm who prefaced the text:

A text of this content by Anders Celsius was published, probably for the first time, in a collection of essays in 1991 (Gyllene äpplen, “Golden Apples”, publisher Atlantis, ed Gunnar Broberg), and in a foreword to the section with Celsius the astronomer and sf author Peter Nilson says Celsius’ text to is likely be from around 1735.

With the kind assistance of sf expert and author Bertil Falk I obtained a photocopy of Celsius original manuscript from the Uppsala University library Carolina Rediviva. (And with a magnifying glass, I was able to fill in a detail from “Golden Apples”, after 278 years… It’s too long to go into, but is reflected in the translation below.) Celsius’ manuscript has two pages, numbered 15 and 16, and seems to be from some sort of “scientific diary” were he writes down thoughts and inserts notes from his scientific correspondents from all over Europe.

Both pages are in two columns. Left column of page 15 is headlined “Astrologica” and has notes on that subject, of no interest here. The right column of page 15 has the headline “Astronomia” and contains most of the sf-related text. It continues on page 16 (right column). The left column page 16 has a note in Latin(which seems of low relevance here – starts “Mathematica…” says something about Plato and the meaning of the word “uhr”, ie “ancient”). The right page 16 column ends with a quote in Italian which must remain undechiphered at present. A short piece from the end of the “Golden Apples” transcription is missing, but is probably on page 17 (which wasn’t obtained).

In my translation of “Astronomia” by Anders Celsius to follow, I’ve tried to use reasonably modern English. The original Swedish used old, strange spelling, some Latin phrases, the astrological symbols instead of actual planet names, and somewhat strange phrasing and word order, which will be particulary noticeable. But this is what the inventor of the temperature scale speculated....

As is stands, it is just a pipe dream.


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