England Plundered Holland’s Glory

Lisa Jardine, author of Going Dutch: How England Plundered Holland’s Glory, has won McGill University’s Cundill prize:

Going Dutch
Going Dutch

Going Dutch: How England Plundered Holland’s Glory (Harper), the remarkable story of the relationship between the Dutch Republic and Britain, two of 17th Century Europe’s most important colonial powers, has earned British historian Lisa Jardine the 2009 Cundill International Prize in History at McGill University.

In this wide-ranging book, Jardine masterfully assembles new research in political and social history, together with the histories of art, music, gardening and science, to show how Dutch tolerance, resourcefulness and commercial acumen had effectively conquered Britain long before the Glorious Revolution of 1688 that overthrew King James II of England. Above all, Jardine tests the traditional view that the rise of England as a world power took place at the expense of the Dutch, finding instead that it was a “handing off” of the baton of cultural and intellectual supremacy to a Britain then expanding in international power and influence.

Read the full news story at the McGill Newsroom.

See the short list for the prize, with brief synopses of the books, author bio’s and cover pic’s here.

And read this review in The Guardian.

Huygens in France

Etablissement de l'Académie des Sciences et fondation de l'observatoire. 1666
Etablissement de l'Académie des Sciences et fondation de l'observatoire. 1666
Is this Christiaan Huygens on the right side of Cassini (in robe)?
Is this Christiaan Huygens (right) by Cassini's side?

This painting shows the establishment of the Academy of Sciences in France in 1666, during the reign of Louis XIV. Christiaan Huygens was one of the founding members of the Academy, and he  lived in Paris from 1666 to 1681. Research done by  C.J. (Kees) Verduin  indicates that there may be an unknown portrait of Christian Huygens in this painting, which now hangs in the Musée National du Château et des Trianons in Versailles.

Go to A Portrait of Christiaan Huygens for more information on his research.

He also has a Christiaan Huygens web page here.

Born Today – Christiaan Huygens

Christiaan Huyghens
Christiaan Huyghens, 1629-1695

From Today in Science History:

Christiaan Huygens, born 14 Apr 1629; died 8 Jul 1695. Dutch mathematician, astronomer, and physicist, who founded the wave theory of light, discovered the true shape of the rings of Saturn, and contributed to the science of dynamics – the study of the action of forces on bodies. Using a lens he ground for himself, on 25 Mar 1655, he discovered the first moon of Saturn, later named Titan. In 1656, he patented the first pendulum clock, which he developed to enable exact time measurement while observing the heavens. Huygens studied the relation of the length of a pendulum to its period of oscillation (1673) and stated theories on centrifugal force in circular motion which influenced Sir Isaac Newton in formulating his Law of Gravity. Huygens also studied and drew the first maps of Mars. On 14 Jan 2005, a NASA space probe, named after Huygens, landed on Titan.

Moon of Saturn Discovery

Christiaan Huygens
Christiaan Huygens

Christiaan Huygens was the first to discover a moon of Saturn, when he observed Titan on 25 Mar 1655. Working with his brother Constantijn,  Huygens had developed a better way of making lenses which allowed him to make an improved telescope. Not wishing to reveal his discovery of the planet until he had confirmed his finding, Huygens made an anagram and presented it to his friends. Later, when he had confirmed his observations, he printed a tract,  De Saturni Luna Observatio Nova in The Hague in 1656, where the meaning of the anagram was revealed.

4 Moons of Saturn from the Hubble Space Telescope
4 Moons of Saturn from the Hubble Space Telescope, Titan is the largest. (NASA)

Photo Album – Prince William the Silent

Willem de Zwijger

The statue of  Willem de Zwijger (“the Silent”) Prince William of Orange (1533 – 1584), as found in the garden of  the Prinsenhof, Delft. The Prinsenhof, originally a convent and then home to the Prince, is now a museum. In 1575, in honour of the brave resistance of the people of Leiden during a Spanish seige, Prince William founded the University of Leiden, the oldest university in The Netherlands. Beeckman, Boerhaave, s’ Gravesande, Hortensius, Huygens, Stevin and Swammerdam all had some association with the University of Leiden. Prince William was assassinated by Balthasar Gérard in the Prinsenhof on the 10 July, 1584.

Huygens’ Wavelets

See how light behaves when it meets a surface at an angle in this annotated animation. The laws of reflection and refraction according to the Huygens’ Principle.

With thanks to The Physics Blog.

  • Visit this page by Walter Fendt for an applet which allows you to control the variables as well as explaining each step of the animation.
  • And for the mathematically inclined, go here to see how Huygens’ Principle has been expanded upon.