Galileo's Glassworks: The Telescope and the Mirror

By Eileen Reeves | Go to book overview

Chapter Two
Idle Inventions

THE interest in telescopic devices was doubtless enhanced by actual developments in the design of metal and glass mirrors, and by hyperbolic descriptions of things that once had been and might again be accomplished with such instruments. Lesensteine or “reading stones,” transparent stones that provided slight magnification to the page beneath them, appeared around the midthirteenth century, and convex lenses were adapted as reading glasses shortly thereafter.1 Both devices, especially the latter, provided a growing segment of the European population with some familiarity with the magnification of nearby objects, but when the same effect was achieved through the use of concave metallic mirrors, that much rarer experience would be described as just one of many catoptric wonders, or in terms that evoked the more spectacular dream of telescopic vision.

Thus the second part of the influential Romance of the Rose, which emerged around 1280 or more or less when eyeglasses did

-47-

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Galileo's Glassworks: The Telescope and the Mirror
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction - The Hague, 1608 1
  • Chapter One - The Daily Mirror of Empire 15
  • Chapter Two - Idle Inventions 47
  • Chapter Three - Obscure Procedures and Odd Opponents 81
  • Chapter Four - The Dutch Telescope and the French Mirror 115
  • Chapter Five - The Afterlife of a Legend 145
  • Notes 169
  • Acknowledgement 219
  • Index 223
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