Philosophy 167: Class 11 - Part 9 - The Founding of the Royal Academy: the Scholars, the Royal Observatory, and Cassini's Observations of Saturn.

Smith, George E. (George Edwin), 1938-


  • Synopsis: The Royal Academy of Sciences was founded in 1666, with Cassini the first royal astronomer of France.

    Opening line: "All right, so England is in the process of forming the royal society, with Marx' success."

    Duration: 7:43 minutes.

    Segment: Class 11, Part 9.
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All right, so England is in the process of forming the royal society, with Marx' success. And here's a young Louis XIV sitting in Paris, and one of his people around him, a very powerful, very wise man named Colbert decides we can't have the English forming this. We've gotta have our own.
So, he goes to Louis XIV and proposes to do something akin to what the English were doing. But Louis XIV is just an awful lot more generous than Charles II. So what Louis XIV decides to do is to set up what's then called the Royal Academy of the Sciences, and the word is plural sciences.
After the French Revolution, the word royal got dropped but the Academy of Sciences still exists. So, it's another thing with more or less continuous, discontinuous only because of the French Revolution. But got re-instated afterwards. The difference between it and the royal society is huge. Because what Louis does is say, why don't we bring the best people we can get here, house them, put them up in the vicinity of the royal library, give them offices there, give them facilities to do research, have them working together on projects Keo supplied the money for the projects.
We're gonna do science right here. And with no strings attached in the sense that you don't have to teach. You don't have to do anything, but be an academician. It's a nice job if you can get it. And, of course, they do still exist, right down to this time.
The initial academicians as of 1666. Colbert in 1664, when he starts getting Louis XIV interested in this, he goes to Huygens and asks Huygens if he would be willing to be the central figure around whom the French Academy Should form. And it's doubly striking because Holland and France were on the verge of war at the time because of the Catholicism/non-Catholicism issue.
And a little later, get there. But Colbert talks Huygens into coming to Paris, where Huygens resides from 1666 to the late 1670s, when he goes back home with migraines. And then he's told by, in fact, La Hire, you best not come back. Colbert dies around 1680. And the ability to protect Protestants inside Paris diminishes when the one person who had the ear of the king to protect them disappeared.
So Huygens spent the last 15 years of his life in Holland. Still an academician being paid by Louis XIV but not actually present. But these people were seeing one another all the time. Huygens ] is the one on the comparative right there. I can't name any of the others.
I assume it's Colbert in the In the clerical garb, but I don't actually know. I lifted that off of Wikipedia. Some of these names you know. Ozu, I've already mentioned and Picard, I will come back to. Resce is in there. Weberval. It's interesting to have a list. This is the original list.
He does geometry, Marriot's the experimenter but he's listed as physicist and Huygens is listed as a geometrician. They take on any number of projects. I'll give you one such. They decide they've gotta have a royal observatory. And, I told you last week, Huygens and Cassini never got along well.
So, what? Huygens, before he knew Cassini, insisted that Cassini be brought in as the first royal astronomer, brought in from Italy. Because he knew Cassini had the best telescopes, thanks to Compani. He knew Cassini was doing the best work. So he was actually behind talking the move to bring Cassini as the first royal astronomer of France.
For those who don't know, the second royal astronomer of France was Cassini's son. And the third royal astronomer of France was Cassini's grandson. So it passed down into essentially a hundred years of royal astronomers name Cassini one after the other. But Cassini was very much an Italian coming into there.
Again, you can see the Royal Observatory, which is very near the Royal Library. I've never walked around Paris, so I don't actually know much about these locations, now. I know they're there. You see the aerial telescope being used. Cassini had a number of assistants and would give them a good deal of work.
This particular piece is from the philosophical transactions of the Royal Society, translated a discovery of small, fixed stars and of one new planet. Well the new planet's not a planet. About the end of October 61, Saturn passed close by four, small, fixed stars visible only by a telescope within the,something of the water of Aquarius.
Once took for new satellites of Jupiter, calling them, I'm not going to try to read that. But which Hevelius showed to be some of the common fixed stars that may every day be seen by a telescope anywhere in the heavens. This passage of Saturn gave us occasion to discover in the same place, within the space of ten minutes, by a telescope of 17 feet made by Campani 11 other smaller stars.
One of which, by its particular motion, showed itself to be a true planet. Which we found by comparing it, not only to Saturn and its ordinary satellite discovered by Mr. Huygens in 1655. But also to other fixed stars etc. So this is the second satellite of Saturn being discovered by Cassini.
He announced the third one shortly after. This is a translation of a Cassini article, as you can see at the top, into English to appear in fill transactions. It's also about this time he discovers that the Cassini Divide in the rings. Anybody whose in my office where I have a modern touched up photograph of Saturn from up close.
On a fly by you can see the rings are in fact, I think there are seven principle. A, B, C, D, E, F, and F prime, are at the very least, I think that's seven divides in them that are noticeable. But the Cassini Divide is the largest by far.