(Roughly) Daily

So many books! So little time!…

Daniel Rourke– a contributor to the terrific Three Quarks Daily, and proprietor of the equally-nifty MachineMacine— reminds us that the problems of coping with information overload are nothing new…

Agostino Ramelli’s Rotary Reader

In 1588, the Italian Engineer Agostino Ramelli described a novel invention to facilitate the reading of multiple books at once:

A beautiful and ingenious machine, which is very useful and convenient to every person who takes pleasure in study, especially those who are suffering from indisposition or are subject to gout: for with this sort of machine a man can see and read a great quantity of books, without moving his place: besides, it has this fine convenience, which is, of occupying a little space in the place where it is set, as any person of understanding can appreciate from the drawing.

The precursor, no doubt, to internet surfing… Gout beget Carpal Tunnel Syndrome beget Muscle Atrophy beget Internet Addiction Disorder. Will mankind stop at nothing in the pursuit of pure information?!?

As we meditate on multi-tasking, we might wish an admiring and grateful Happy Birthday to one of the most accomplished multi-taskers of all time, the mathematician, biologist, historian of science, literary critic, poet and inventor Jacob Bronowski; he was born on this date in 1908.  Bronowski is probably best remembered as the writer (and host) of the epochal 1973 BBC television documentary series (and accompanying book), The Ascent of Man (the title of which was a play on the title of Darwin’s second book on evolution, The Descent of Man)… the thirteen-part series (which is available at libraries, on DVD, or Netflix), a survey of the history of science–  from rock tools to relativity– and its place in civilizations, is still an extraordinary treat.



%d bloggers like this: