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New eyes and new ideas

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By Kirsten Peters

This year is the 400th birthday of science and engineering. It’s an occasion worth noting and giving thanks for because each day those twin disciplines improve the lives of billions of people around the world. (Beyond that, science and engineering are awfully fun, so their total effect is sort of like combining doing good all around the planet with the pure joys of playing chess).

The game all got started in 1609 when a number of people in different parts of Europe started to put two glass lenses together in a new way. One lens was concave (depression going into the lens), one convex (domed outward from the lens). If you join the two by a leather tube, you have a simple telescope – a device made by at least 1609 in the Netherlands and likely in several other countries around the same time.


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