[extropy-chat] HUMOUR: Tycho's nose

scerir scerir at libero.it
Thu Jun 24 12:56:13 UTC 2004

It is said (never mind by whom) that when Tycho
Brahe was 20 years old he got into a duel with
some other noble soul, allegedly over a point
of mathematics.

It is suggested [*] that the argument was about
Fermat's Next-to-Last Theorem, to the effect that
2 + 2 = 5 for large values of 2.

It is said that Brahe lost a chunk of his nose in
this match, and that he undertook to cover it up
with a metal prosthesis.

For a long time it was said (never mind by whom)
that the metal was gold, or silver, or an alloy
of the two. However, in 1901, some nosey persons
exhumed his body, and found green verdigris around
the nasal cavity of Brahe's skull, indicating the
presence of copper or brass.  This upset many supporters
of the aristocracy.  Surely a nobleman wouldn't have
merely a _brass_ nose.

In any case, it seems safe to say, if this Brahe story
isn't a fabrication, that his nose had a piece of metal
in it.

I expect, though, that the ex-official in the State
Department and his co-author (or perhaps Newt Gingrich,
when he's through writing about the U.S. Civil War,
will charge that in fact Brahe didn't lose part
of his nose at age 20 in a duel, but had it bitten off
later by Kepler when Brahe tried to resist giving Kepler
the data Kepler wanted to write his great musical composition,
the _Harmonice Mundi_ (English: _Harmonica Monday_).

[All the above: by Gordon Fisher]

[*] http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a980717a.html

Also of some interest: "Did Kepler kill Tycho?"
Two writers believe the mathematician, in his
desperate bid to deduce the true nature of
the planetary orbits, poisoned the astronomer
to gain access to his log books.

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