Showing posts from October, 2013

Tycho Brahe - the foolish death of a wise man

On a night in October 1601, the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II of Habsburg hosted a lavish banquet at which was present the renowned astronomer Tycho Brahe. But after drinking too much wine, Tycho is filled with the urgent and embarrassing need to urinate.

'What can I do?' he nervously asked himself. 'I can't leave the table, that would be a breach of etiquette. I'll just have to cross my legs and wait.'

And it was an agonising wait, like sitting through a compilation of acceptance speeches from the Oscars: 'I'd like to thank my mom for giving birth to me, my dog for all the love and affection he gives me, God for creating our beautiful planet.....'

Finally, the feasting ended, Tycho rushed to the nearest urinal and hurriedly pointed Percy at the porcelain. But catastrophe! Nothing came out! Panic stricken with severe piss paralysis, Tycho closed his eyes and addressed a silent prayer of supplication to his prostate. A few meagre drops finally dribbled …

Christopher Columbus, Rodrigo de Triana, and the discovery of the New World

On 6 September 1492, the flotilla of vessels comprising the Pinta, the Nina and the Santa Maria, under the command of Admiral Christopher Columbus, set sail from the Canary Islands, and one month later there was still no sight of land. 

With the sailors close to mutiny, on 10 October, Columbus, aboard the Santa Maria, summoned the Pinta and the Ninato draw close so that he could address their crews.

'My brave lads!' he tells them. 'Have courage! It is true that we have yet to sight land, but I am fully trained and highly skilled navigator. I know my arse from my elbow, and my infallible and precise calculations tell me that Japan - yes, Japan! - is just over the horizon. And remember: the Queen of Spain has promised a prize of 10,000 maravedis to whomsoever is first to spy our destination. So forward, my tall fellows!'

The sailors cried 'Hurrah!' and threw their caps into the air, and indeed on 12 October, at two in the morning, a sailor's cry of 'Japan ah…