Sunday, November 15, 2009
What Galileo and Newton were listening to
This is of course what Galileo and Newton (and also Tycho Brae and all the rest of the astronomers) listened to when they worked out how it was that the Solar system worked. No, really, they were, even if they hadn't been invented yet: they were listening to the music of the spheres rather than these specific music of the spheres wind chimes of course. For that's what the whole phrase refers to: the spheres being the planets circling in their orbits and the music being the cosmic soundtrack, the notes that are played out as God's creation goes through its turns.
That's the theory anyway, and then we take a further step, which is that the music of the spheres chimes bring you somehow closer to realising the vision of that creation by listening to them. That's a part of it that has never really quite seemed to hold up to logical analysis I have to admit but that is the story and we'll stick to it. So the thought is that by listening to the soundtrack of the universe we'll be able to better understand that universe and even possibly our part in it.
True, the music of the spheres wind chimes don't have quite the beat or insistency of something like Limp Bizkit and certainly don't approach the sublime expression of God's will for mankind that the very best Motown (or Gospel, from which of course Motown took much) can encapsulate. But the sound is indeed pleasant and pleasing and adds nicely to the background track of one's life. I have only one real concern over them: we have at present an entirely mischievous puppy, of breed unknown but we're pretty sure there's a lot of terrier in there, who would near immediately work out how to jump up and make them chime. So the soundtrack would not be that blissful evocation of the heavens, rather more a Yip, Yip, Clang and repeat. Which might not be quite so relaxing to listen to.
Posted by Tim Worstall at 9:41 AM