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Musings on Space Travel
Transcript of Musings on Space Travel
Antiquity to the mid-20th century
The allegorical tale of Icarus
An excellent summary by blogger José Galisi Filho of humankind’s tentative psychological steps towards spaceflight
In this link you will learn about ancient Indian gods’ and their flying machines.
(It is only required to read until this line ‘This text is recommended to all who doubt the existence of flying machines in antiquity.’ You are welcome to ignore the author’s agenda of trying to convince us that flying machines did exist in antiquity. I did find the references to ancient Indian literature interesting.
Cicero’s Somnium Scipionis (Scipio’s Dream) during which Scipio looks down on Earth from the heavens.
Plutarch’s De facie in orbe lunae (On the Face That Appears in the Orb of the Moon), suggests that the moon shares features with the Earth and that possibly ‘souls’ may inhabit the moon.
Lucian’s True History - (It is only required to read until this this line “Similarly, when Lucian calls his fantastic tale (which makes fun of liars) a “true story,” he references one of the key paradoxes of philosophy and its inability to be completely self-grounding.”).
I hope you enjoy the fantastic descriptions of the creatures that Lucian has imagined. True History is widely considered to be the first work of science fiction with its description of interplanetary travel and warfare and alien creatures.
The Man in the Moone - 1638
Please proceed to take Unit 2 - Quiz 1
Supplemental reading concerning Abu’l Qasim Fidausi who authors the epic poem Shahnama with its reference to the king being lifted into flight upon his chair powered by birds.
Supplemental reading - Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso with
its mention of the moon being inhabited by cities.
Galileo and the Sidereus Nuncius (The Starry Messenger). Although this particular link takes you to a brief summary of the Sidereus Nuncius you will see this page is part of a larger set of notes about Galileo. While interesting, the additional pages are not required reading.
The moon as drawn by Galileo Galilei and published in "Sidereus Nuncius" in 1610 plus a photographic image of the same view
Kepler’s Somnium (The Dream)
John Wilkin’s ‘The Discovery of a World in the Moone; or, A Discourse Tending to Prove, that ’tis probable there may be another habitable World in that Planet.’
This link provides a short description of the book and suggests it is for sale for $6,000 (if you are interested).
John Wilkin’s ‘The Discovery of a World in the Moone; or, A Discourse Tending to Prove, that ’tis probable there may be another habitable World in that Planet.’ This is a link to the complete book.
In Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac’s 1687 (translated) books ‘The Comical History of the States and Empires of the Worlds of the Moon and Sun’ he makes the first European reference in a literary work to a machine with rockets.
Murtagh McDermot’s A Trip to the Moon (1728) – a very short description of the ‘rocketship’ the protagonist used to reach the moon.
Supplemental reading - Murtagh McDermot’s A Trip to the Moon
- note the entire book is available for just 1 shilling!
Please proceed to take Unit 2 - Quiz 2
The Montgolfier brothers and the first hot air balloon (1783)
‘A Trip to the Moon’ a 1902 French silent film title primarily inspired by the writings of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells but clearly paying homage to McDermot’s book. To my eye, there are clearly some elements of the later Wizard of Oz movie beginning around 7:00 with the lunar creature looking a bit like the dreaded flying monkeys and then later the hordes of the lunar creatures bent on destruction of the human invaders.
Please note, this is a heavily edited version on my part, my intent was to just show a little flavor of the film. The entire 10 minute film can be found on Youtube
The Great Moon Hoax – 1835
Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall” in which the protagonist goes to the moon to escape paying earthly debts.
A free android app based on the “The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall’
Jules Verne’s ‘From the Earth to the Moon’ (1865)
A complete and interesting version of Jules Verne’s ‘From the Earth to the Moon’
An illustration from the novel "From the Earth to the Moon" drawn by Henri de Montaut
Jules Verne’s “Round the Moon” (1870)
A complete and interesting version of Jules Verne’s ‘Round the Moon’
An interesting hotel site modeled after the architecture described in ‘From the Earth to the Moon’
H.G. Well’s “War of the Worlds” It is only required to read to the section titled ‘Physical Location'.
H.G. Well’s “War of the Worlds” full text
The original radio broadcast of War of the Worlds with Orson Welles. If you have never heard this, it’s worth listening for few minutes. It is incredibly well done. The script sets the listener up so well to accept the ‘news reports’.
UNIT 2 is complete!
Please proceed to take Unit 2 - Quiz 3
Although only supplemental reading, this may be the best document in the entire class. If you have any interest in humankind's evolving thoughts about space flight, this does a great job of summarizing early works.
Supplemental Listening but fascinating!
An audio file of the text
As you have learned in this unit, humankind has long had a fascination with the idea of space travel. The early musing on space travel includes fantastical accounts of how humans were to travel into space, from human powered wings to chairs lifted by birds. As technology developed, writings about possible space flight travel began to incorporate the improvements in technology. It is interesting that many early authors described a variety of creatures and/or functioning societies on the moon and other planets. Finally, the idea of rockets makes its way into the literature and descriptions of space travel began to resemble the type of space travel that occurred during the previous century. Our next unit will focus on early rocketry.