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Monday, December 7, 2015

Second

George Washington talking about musket balls and bullets.
 Came across the above picture on Facebook and I got to wondering when the second was invented (discovered? when people realized there was such a thing?). Ask dot com provides an answer:
The international unit of the second was first described by the Greco-Egyptian mathematician Claudius Ptolemy in his work "Almagest" around 150 C.E. He defined the second, or second-minute, as one-sixtieth of a minute.  The second was not used in timekeeping, however, until the development in the 17th century of the first mechanical clocks that could track this unit of time. Marin Mersenne, a French mathematician, developed a pendulum clock that could track one second via the pendulum's swing.
17th Century? That would be the 1600's, and a hundred years later the race of technology was in full swing.

Ptolemy (I pronounce it Tolemy, drop the P in the bit bucket), I think I've heard of him, although since they specified a first name, maybe there's more than one. Just checked, apparently no, there is only the one:
Claudius Ptolemy (circa AD 100 – c. 170) was a Greco-Egyptian writer, known as a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. - Wikipedia, more or less.
". . . poet of a single epigram . . ."? Is that even a legal construct? I would have no trouble with it if it was phrased like this:  ". . . author of a single epigram . . .". Guess I've never heard poet used that way. Still don't like it. And an 'epigram'? That's just "a short poem, especially a satirical one, having a witty or ingenious ending."

Just what was that epigram? Here you go, courtesy J J O'Connor and E F Robertson:
Well do I know that I am mortal, a creature of one day.
But if my mind follows the winding paths of the stars
Then my feet no longer rest on earth, but standing by
Zeus himself I take my fill of ambrosia, the divine dish.
P.S. Phrase in full swing "in total effect or operation" (1560s) perhaps is from bell-ringing. - Online Etymology Dictionary

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