Author Topic: Christiaan Huygens and his home, Hofwijck  (Read 220 times)

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Offline BaryonicMan

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Christiaan Huygens and his home, Hofwijck
« on: May 08, 2017, 05:13:17 AM »
Has Christiaan Huygens been made forgotten superhero of science yet? Because, even though he did discover the rings of Saturn and Saturn's largest moon Titan, most of what he did is a bit forgotten. Even here in the Netherlands.

Even if he wasn't a big superhero like Newton, he certainly was "up there". Born in 1639, Christiaan Huygens is most well known for his work in astronomy and the invention of the pendulum clock, but he also did important work in theoretical physics. He stated the law of centripetal force, exerted by an object in circular motion, described pendulum motion, among other things. He did important work on optics and acoustics and he was a proponent of the wave theory of light.

He invented a tubeless telescope and was the first to see surface features on Mars, namely Sirtis Major. Other inventions are: the magic lantern, the gunpowder engine, the principle of the steam engine and he patented the pocket watch. And riding in carriages became much more pleasant because of his invention of suspension (according to the Hofwijck museum. I could not find info to back that up.)

And he wrote science fiction! In his book Cosmotheoros (I have to buy that book. Also available in English by the way) he describes to his brother what they would see, looking together at Earth from the Moon and how Saturn would look from "his" moon, Titan (which wasn't named Titan until 1847). He also speculated on extraterrestrial life and wrote that the availability of liquid water was probably important for life.

I visited the house where Christiaan's father Constantijn (poet and secretary to the prince of Orange) and Christiaan Huygens lived in the 17th century yesterday. The place is called Hofwijck. It
s a short train ride from The Hague. Nowadays it's situated directly next to a busy highway and train line (that is embarrassing).

I took some pictures of Hofwijck. Have a look:

Hofwijck is a small museum nowadays. Most of Huygens' instruments are not here, but in other museums.

Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Christiaan Huygens and his home, Hofwijck
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2017, 05:58:12 PM »
I'm pretty sure Huygens isn't "forgotten". The man had a Titan lander named after him.

But yeah, he was a dude.

Offline BaryonicMan

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Re: Christiaan Huygens and his home, Hofwijck
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2017, 08:25:34 AM »
He's not so much forgotten, more a large part what he did is not well known.

Anyway, I decided to buy the book Cosmotheoros. I've got the Dutch version, which is from 1754. It's available in English (and Latin?) also.

Offline PatrickG

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Re: Christiaan Huygens and his home, Hofwijck
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2017, 07:28:17 PM »
Thanks for the description of Huygens Hofwijck. For years I have driven past it on my way to work without knowing it's the historical significance.  The Boerhave museum in neighboring Leiden has some of Huygens pendulum clocks, if I remember properly. 
For a skeptic/science geek the Boerhave museum is a must see. Its collection has many early medical and physical instruments, including the first microscope. It also nicely documents the transition from quack instruments to more science-based equipment.

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