Posts Tagged ‘Bertrand Russell’
More than 170 years before Jean-François Champollion had the first real success in translating Egyptian hieroglyphs, the 17th century Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher was convinced he had cracked it. He was very wrong. Daniel Stolzenberg looks at Kircher’s Egyptian Oedipus, a book that has been called “one of the most learned monstrosities of all times” in Public Domain Review.
As we take care not to jump to conclusions, we might send thoughtful birthday greetings to Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell; he was born on this date in 1872. A philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic, Russell is probably best remembered for Principia Mathematica (co-authored with Alfred North Whitehead), which attempted to ground mathematics in logic (though his essay “On Denoting” has also been celebrated as a “paradigm of philosophy.” He won the 1950 Nobel Prize in Literature ”in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought.”
Bertrand Russell delivering the first Reith Lecture
The Reith Lectures were inaugurated by the BBC in 1948 to honor the contributions of its first Director General, John Reith (more formally known by the end of his career as “John Charles Walsham Reith, 1st Baron Reith”).
Lord Reith had operated on the principle that broadcasting should be a public service that enriches the intellectual and cultural life of the nation. In that spirit the BBC invites a leading figure to deliver a series of radio lectures each year– the aim being “to advance public understanding and debate about significant issues of contemporary interest.”
And so, over the last 63 years, British listeners have been treated to Arnold Toynbee on “The World and the West,” Robert Oppenheimer on “Science and Common Understanding,” John Searle on “Minds, Brains, and Science,” John Keegan on “War in Our World,” Marina Warner on “Managing Monsters”… and dozens more extraordinary minds explaining and provoking.
As of a few weeks ago the BBC has made the entire audio library of Reith Lectures available online, from Bertrand Russell’s kick-off through 2010′s Martin Rees on “Scientific Horizons.”
[TotH to @brainpicker for the link]
As we listen and learn, we might recall that it was on this date in 1908 that “SOS” (. . . _ _ _ . . .) became the global standard radio distress signal. While it was officially replaced in 1999 by the Global Maritime Distress Safety System, SOS is still recognized as a visual distress signal.
SOS has traditionally be “translated” (expanded) to mean “save our ship,” “save our souls,” “send out succor,” or other such pleas. But while these may be helpful mnemonics, SOS is not an abbreviation or acronym. Rather, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the letters were chosen simply because they are easily transmitted in Morse code.
click image above, or here