Sunday, 17 October 2010

Roger Bacon

NAME Roger Bacon

WHAT FAMOUS FOR Philosopher and Scientist

BIRTH B1214, Ilchester, Somerset, England.

FAMILY BACKGROUND Young Roger came from a wealthy background. His parents sided with Henry III against those darn rebellious Barons to no avail as their property was despoiled and several members of the family were driven into exile.

EDUCATION Roger was educated at Oxford University where he studied Liberal Arts and Philosophy under Robert Grosseleste then Paris where he studied Theology. In addition the medieval mastermind mastered Greek, Latin and Hebrew.

CAREER RECORD For about ten years Bacon lectured at Paris mainly on Aristotle until 1247.
1247-57 Bacon returned to Oxford where he was a Professor. He devoted much of his time to an intense study of Mathematics, Optics and Theology.
1257 Joined the Franciscan Order.

APPEARANCE All we know is that Bacon wore an early form of glasses.

FASHION Short sighted, Bacon was one of the first westerners to uses lenses to help him see more clearly.

CHARACTER Bacon was known as Doctor Mirabilis, "The Admirable Doctor" because of his many diverse interests.
Quarrelsome and iron-willed by nature, which caused conflict with his colleagues.

SENSE OF HUMOUR Considering Bacon's interest in gunpowder (see military record) he was a real blast, boom boom.

RELATIONSHIPS Bacon had Pope Clement IV gunning for him, and the Head of the Catholic Church encouraged him to write a book, which was titled rather bigheadedly, Opus Majus (Major Work). Unfortunately the Pope died in 1268, after which Bacon was never flavour of the month.
Being a Franciscan Friar rather restricted Roger's love life.

MONEY AND FAME The short sighted scientist's greatness was not recognised until the 20th century. In Bacon's lifetime despite being a world class Scientist and philosopher his fame was that of a lower football league full back.
The short sighted scientist believed that gold dissolved in aqua regia was the

FOOD AND DRINK Little is known about Friar Bacon's culinary habits.

MUSIC AND ARTS Bacon regarded theology as superior to the arts. He suggested that artists could use geometry to create the illusion of three dimensional reality and thereby convince onlookers they were truly witnessing the events depicted. As a result three-dimensional images depicting the life of Saint Francis of Assisi were painted on a new basilica in Assisi. Such was the realistic effect that it became the most visited church in Europe.
An advocate of bells (not the whiskey brand but the the things that ring), Bacon believed that the concussion of the air caused by the toiling of church bells purified the atmosphere, thus driving away demons.

LITERATURE An outspoken controversial writer, Bacon went the whole hog and wrote rashly what he thought. For instance he described Thomas Aquinas as "a teacher yet unschooled." which was a trifle unfair.

1268 Opus Majus (Major work) His great work, this compendium of all branches of knowledge lived up to its title (albeit a little streaky in places).
He sent his mate Pope Clement IV his book, unfortunately it reached him during the period of the Pope's fatal illness.

Amongst Bacon's other works were the possibly reflective On Mirrors and the Darwinesque sounding On the Multiplication of Species.

HOBBIES AND SPORTS Amongst Bacon's many hobbies were philosophy, magic and alchemy.

SCIENCE AND MATHS An early advocate of experimental science, Bacon believed science and mathematics could serve the Christian faith. Some of his inventions, such as gunpowder were undoubtedly derived from the study of Arab scientists. Below is just a snippet of his many scientific achievements:
(1) Designed a man carrying an aviation machine with flapping wings.
(2) Could be said to be the inventor of spectacles, at any rate Bacon developed magnifying lenses.
(3) Said that experiment was "the Lord of all the sciences."
(4) Bacon's highest ambition was to have a planetarium in which the heavenly bodies would move automatically and accurately across the man made sky.
(5) Pointed out that the Julian calendar was slightly too long. However it took another 300 years for the leap year to be introduced.
(6) Bacon believed in the possibility of transmuting inferior metals into gold, he regarded alchemy as the most valuable of the sciences "because it produced greater utilities." What a silly Friar.
(7.) Made a Camera Obscura for observing Solar Eclipses.

PHILOSOPHY & THEOLOGY (1)The maxim that made the short-sighted Philosopher tick was "cease to be ruled by dogmas and authorities; Look at the world."
(2) The volatile Friar was theologically conservative but outspoken and he frequently got into trouble for saying what he thought. He saw theology as the supreme area of knowledge.
(3)Bacon owned a head of brass. He believed that if it spoke, he would succeed in his project, if not he would fail.
One day the Friar went off to sleep, the head spoke three times firstly saying "time is, half a hour later " time was" and another half an hour later " time past", on which it fell down and smashed into smithereens. Spooky.
(4)The explosive Friar suggested taking crusades of learning to the Islamic lands to win the Muslims over to Christianity by impressing them with European knowledge.

SCANDAL Despite often making a spectacle of himself, Bacon stuck to his guns.
(1) The outspoken Friar sent some of his more controversial writings to Pope Clement's successor but got fried by the church and was excommunicated and imprisoned by for "certain novelties". He was confined to a monastery.
The "certain novelties" the authorities were particularly unhappy about were his chemical research.
In 1278 the general of the Franciscan order, Girolamo Masci, later Pope Nicholas IV, forbade the reading of Bacon's books and had Bacon arrested. After ten years in prison, Bacon returned to Oxford.
(2) In many aspects he was pig ignorant. For instance Bacon claimed that saffron delayed ageing and he went as far as to send the Pope these instructions. (Bacon was 76 at the time.)
(3) In his lifetime Bacon was accused of dealing in Black Magic. For many centuries after his death, he had a bad press due to his alchemist and sorcery activities.

MILITARY RECORD Bacon introduced the gunpowder formula to Europe in 1242. The invention of gunpowder has been attributed to him but don't believe it - it originated in China and was also known previously in Arabia, so bang goes that theory.
Bacon's recipe for gunpowder was Saltpetre 41%. Charcoal 29.5% Sulphur 29.5%. Mixed together it would imitate lightning and cause explosions. (Kids get your parent's permission before trying this at home.)

HEALTH AND PHYSICAL FITNESS Bacon was the first scholar to suggest that medicine should rely on remedies provided by chemistry.

HOMES Bacon settled in Oxford after studying in Paris. From 1257 he pursued his studies in isolation at "Friar Bacon's Study" a house which stood across the north end of a bridge crossing the Thames. Bacon moved back to Paris where from 1277-91 he was virtually kept imprisoned by in a monastery his Order.

TRAVEL The prophetic Friar foresaw the extensive use of cars, aeroplanes and ocean liners. He conducted studies that led him to the conclusion that air could support craft in the same way that water supports boats.
Bacon controversially suggested that the Earth was round and Asia could be reached by sailing westwards. What he did not realise was that there is a big continent called America in the way.

DEATH Died Oxford 1292, Roger and out.

APPEARANCES IN MEDIA Considering Bacon was one of the medieval greats and an interesting character it is surprising he has barely been portrayed in any media.

ACHIEVEMENTS (1) His experimental studies of behaviour of light, prisms, rainbows and mirrors helped lay the groundwork for modern science and created the way for a boom in experimental science. Often regarded as the first modern scientist.
(2) Developed spectacles, gunpowder amongst others.
(3) Foresaw the possibility of mechanical cars, boats and flying machines and telescopes. He did not foresee the destruction properties of gunpowder in the following centuries.
(4) Patron Saint of Encyclopedia Salesmen.
(5) Pioneered three dimensional art as the forerunner of virtual reality.

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