Science Idols And Money
Printing and minting as a result of the Gutenberg Revolution that manufactured a growing literate middle class from the Feudal God fearing plantation bound peasantry.
Religious and feudally faith based University educations get slowly replaced with empirically based observations, and an age of reason is born, or so the story goes...
Neil deGrasse Tyson Describes One Problem With American Currency... source: Tanner Humanities Center
Royal Stool Grooming
"Unlike institutions of more recent origin, it cannot be said that the Royal Mint was founded on a specific day in a particular year. What is known is that 1100 years ago, from the second half of the ninth century, there were reasonably robust conventions in place governing the making of coins. A glance at the uniform design of coins produced from this time is evidence of a controlling force and a deliberate policy.
As royal control over government grew during the next few hundred years, so greater structure was given to the body of men who were responsible for making the nation’s coinage. By the mid-13th century a clear organisational framework existed for the monarch’s mint in London consisting of a hierarchy of officers. From at least the 1270s there was also a known location within the Tower of London and the organisation became increasingly well established and formalized."
Sir Isaac Newton's Revolution
"Isaac Newton (1643–1727) built upon the work of Kepler, Galileo and Huygens. He showed that an inverse square law for gravity explained the elliptical orbits of the planets, and advanced the law of universal gravitation. His development of infinitesimal calculus opened up new applications of the methods of mathematics to science."
"Newton taught that scientific theory should be coupled with rigorous experimentation, which became the keystone of modern science."
"The Catholic Church quickly realized the potential of the printing press as a challenge to its influence. Censorship was introduced into the print shop in 1487, when Pope Innocent VIII required that Church authorities approve all books before publication. The Church had censored books for centuries, though it became much more difficult to do so after the invention of printing. Controlling a dozen painfully copied manuscripts of a forbidden text may have been a manageable task, but controlling the thousands of copies churning off the presses every year was quite another matter. One of these forbidden texts was the Bible printed in any other language than Latin."
"The Protestant Reformation movement began in 1517 with Martin Luther and his insistence that all Christians be able to read the Bible in their own language. The printing press helped to spread his message and eventually end the hold of the Catholic Church over much of northern Europe. The press as a tool of political and cultural change ensured the world would never be the same again. News of scientific and geographic discoveries now quickly circulated. Medical texts were published with detailed anatomical illustrations. Mass communication became possible on a scale that was unparalleled. Gutenberg the man may still be a mystery, but his invention helped to enlighten the world in a way that was impossible with manuscripts."
Using Technology To Mint & Print Money
"The modern banknote rests on the assumption that money is determined by a social and legal consensus. A gold coin's value is simply a reflection of the supply and demand mechanism of a society exchanging goods in a free market, as opposed to stemming from any intrinsic property of the metal. By the late 17th century, this new conceptual outlook helped to stimulate the issue of banknotes. The economist Nicholas Barbon wrote that money "was an imaginary value made by a law for the convenience of exchange." A temporary experiment of banknote issue was carried out by Sir William Phips as the Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay in 1690 to help fund the war effort against France."
"The first bank to initiate the permanent issue of banknotes was the Bank of England. Established in 1694 to raise money for the funding of the war against France, the bank began issuing notes in 1695 with the promise to pay the bearer the value of the note on demand. They were initially handwritten to a precise amount and issued on deposit or as a loan. There was a gradual move toward the issuance of fixed denomination notes, and by 1745, standardized printed notes ranging from £20 to £1,000 were being printed. Fully printed notes that didn't require the name of the payee and the cashier's signature first appeared in 1855.
The Scottish economist John Law helped establish banknotes as a formal currency in France, after the wars waged by Louis XIV left the country with a shortage of precious metals for coinage.
In the United States there were early attempts at establishing a central bank in 1791 and 1816, but it was only in 1862 that the federal government of the United States began to print banknotes."
Newton and The Counterfeiter
Scientific revolutions and minting modern minds.
Newton and the Counterfeiter source: Distinctive Voices
"Published on Aug 17, 2010
One of the world's greatest scientists, Isaac Newton, changed careers to manage England's Royal Mint at a time when the preponderance of fake money in circulation caused a financial crisis. The story of Newton's fierce pursuit of the master counterfeiter William Chaloner is woven in a description of the mechanics of minting in the late 17th century and Newton's management of the Mint.
Thomas Levenson, Professor of Science Writing and Director of the Graduate Program in Science Writing at MIT, is the author of four books, most recently Newton and the Counterfeiter. He is a recipient of the Peabody Award (shared), a New York Chapter Emmy, the AAAS/Westinghouse award, and the 2005 National Academies Communications Award for "Origins." His articles and reviews have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The Boston Globe, Discover, and The Sciences."
"The Age of Enlightenment was preceded by and closely associated with the scientific revolution."
"Another important development was the popularization of science among an increasingly literate population. Philosophes introduced the public to many scientific theories, most notably through the Encyclopédie and the popularization of Newtonianism by Voltaire and Émilie du Châtelet. Some historians have marked the 18th century as a drab period in the history of science; however, the century saw significant advancements in the practice of medicine, mathematics, and physics; the development of biological taxonomy; a new understanding of magnetism and electricity; and the maturation of chemistry as a discipline, which established the foundations of modern chemistry."
"The Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Enlightenment or the Age of Reason; in French: le Siècle des Lumières, lit. 'the Century of Lights'; and in German: Aufklärung, 'Enlightenment') was an intellectual and philosophical movement which dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century, The Century of Philosophy. The Enlightenment included a range of ideas centered on reason as the primary source of authority and legitimacy, and came to advance ideals like liberty, progress, tolerance, fraternity, constitutional government, and separation of church and state. In France, the central doctrines of les Lumières were individual liberty and religious tolerance in opposition to an absolute monarchy and the fixed dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church."
"The Enlightenment was marked by an emphasis on the scientific method and reductionism along with increased questioning of religious orthodoxy—an attitude captured by the phrase Sapere aude, "Dare to know".
"French historians traditionally place the Enlightenment between 1715, the year that Louis XIV died, and 1789, the beginning of the French Revolution. Some recent historians begin the period in the 1620s, with the start of the scientific revolution. Les philosophes (French for 'the philosophers') of the period widely circulated their ideas through meetings at scientific academies, Masonic lodges, literary salons, coffee houses, and printed books and pamphlets. The ideas of the Enlightenment undermined the authority of the monarchy and the Church, and paved the way for the political revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries. A variety of 19th-century movements, including liberalism and neo-classicism, trace their intellectual heritage back to the Enlightenment.
The Age of Enlightenment was preceded by and closely associated with the scientific revolution. Earlier philosophers whose work influenced the Enlightenment included Francis Bacon, René Descartes, John Locke and Baruch Spinoza. The major figures of the Enlightenment included Cesare Beccaria, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, Adam Smith, and Immanuel Kant. Some European rulers, including Catherine II of Russia, Joseph II of Austria and Frederick II of Prussia, tried to apply Enlightenment thought on religious and political tolerance, which became known as enlightened absolutism.Benjamin Franklin visited Europe repeatedly and contributed actively to the scientific and political debates there and brought the newest ideas back to Philadelphia. Thomas Jefferson closely followed European ideas and later incorporated some of the ideals of the Enlightenment into the Declaration of Independence (1776). One of his peers, James Madison, incorporated these ideals into the United States Constitutionduring its framing in 1787.
The most influential publication of the Enlightenment was the Encyclopédie (Encyclopaedia). Published between 1751 and 1772 in thirty-five volumes, it was compiled by Denis Diderot, Jean le Rond d'Alembert(until 1759), and a team of 150 scientists and philosophers. It helped spread the ideas of the Enlightenment across Europe and beyond.
Other landmark publications were Voltaire's Dictionnaire philosophique (Philosophical Dictionary; 1764) and Letters on the English (1733); Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality (1754) and The Social Contract(1762); Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations (1776); and Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws (1748). The ideas of the Enlightenment played a major role in inspiring the French Revolution, which began in 1789. After the Revolution, the Enlightenment was followed by an opposing intellectual movement known as Romanticism."
"Isaac Newton was appointed Warden of the Royal Mint in the spring of 1696 on the recommendation of Charles Montague, Chancellor of the Exchequer. Public office was new to him, but nevertheless it was an opportunity which he had sought, and Montague’s letter of 19 March 1696 notifying him of the king’s promise of the vacant post of Warden would not have been unwelcome.
The Royal Mint was then in the Tower of London and it was accordingly to the Tower that Newton came in April 1696 to take up his new duties. It was a time of great activity, for the Royal Mint was grappling with the recoinage of old silver coins dating back to the reign of Elizabeth I and beyond. Auxiliary mints were being set up in various parts of the country, and Newton was quickly caught up in the pressure of the moment. The enormous operation was completed within three years, leaving Newton more time to devote to his main duty of investigating and bringing to justice those who clipped and counterfeited the coin of the realm.
Appointment as Master
In 1699 the post of Master of the Royal Mint fell vacant by the death of Thomas Neale. Though technically less senior than that of Warden, it was a more lucrative post because the Master acted as a contractor to the Crown and profited from the rates at which he put the work out to sub-contractors. The Mastership was offered to Newton and he took up its duties with effect from Christmas Day 1699. Surviving the political upheavals of those troubled times, he remained as Master until his death in March 1727.
It was plainly a time when, if Newton chose, there were important questions requiring his supervision and judgement, practical control and administrative skill. And from the start there is no doubt of an active involvement in the affairs of the Royal Mint.
- He is known to have himself conducted interviews with criminals and
- He was present when treasure captured from the French and Spanish fleet at Vigo Bay was brought into the Royal Mint
- The Scottish Mint in Edinburgh acknowledged with gratitude the friendly assistance they received from him after the Union in 1707
- His famous report of 21 September 1717 paved the way for a reduction in the value of the guinea to the familiar 21 shillings
- He supervised experiments on the purity of copper and some believe that he may even have carried out his own assays of gold and silver
- Above all, the evidence of his activity is there to see in the hundreds of surviving draft reports and letters, written in his own hand and often many times over
Newton’s long term contribution to the Royal Mint nevertheless seems in retrospect to be small for the greatest mind of the age. Such a view does not conflict with Montague’s assertion that the success of the Great Recoinage was due in great measure to Newton’s able administration, but it runs counter to the claim of the historian Macaulay that Newton speedily produced a complete revolution within the Royal Mint. On the contrary, he left the Royal Mint in 1727 very much as he found it 30 years before. Good administrator as he may have been, he was not an innovator and in his own words was far more comfortable in the search for precedent than in ‘embarrassing initiative’. The medieval organisation of the Royal Mint was therefore left intact.
Concern for accuracy
Yet if there is no major reform of the Royal Mint with which his name can be associated, there was nevertheless a real and positive contribution. It is a contribution which shows itself especially in a concern for accuracy, for Newton wanted coins to be made of the correct weight and fineness, varying as little as possible one from another. Such accuracy was unprecedented and, with justice, Newton claimed that he had brought the coinage to a ‘much greater degree of exactness than ever was known before’. In these circumstances it is no wonder that he reacted angrily in 1710 to the mistaken judgement of the jury at the Trial of the Pyx that his gold coins were below standard.
Industry and integrity
A second aspect of his contribution was his undoubted industry. Although he had able deputies, he chose not to delegate everything, providing a welcome change from his predecessors. And finally, and more important still, there is his integrity. He was an honest and respected man who cared for his reputation and who, as in his scientific disputes with Flamsteed and Leibniz, passionately resented reflections on his moral integrity. He is said to have refused a bribe of over £6000 in connection with contracts for the coinage of copper, and there can be no doubt that he set a high standard at a time when corruption was rife.
In consequence Newton raised the status of the Royal Mint by his presence and by his behaviour. He secured a place for the Royal Mint in the highest counsels of the realm and his evident interest in mint affairs, sustained over 30 years, makes him a distinguished part of the history of the Royal Mint."
All About the Enlightenment: The Age of Reason
All About the Enlightenment The Age of Reason source: AHSChavez
The History of Science during the Age of Enlightenment
"The history of science during the Age of Enlightenment traces developments in science and technology during the Age of Reason, when Enlightenment ideas and ideals were being disseminated across Europe and North America. Generally, the period spans from the final days of the 16th and 17th-century Scientific revolution until roughly the 19th century, after the French Revolution (1789) and the Napoleonic era (1799–1815). The scientific revolution saw the creation of the first scientific societies, the rise of Copernicanism, and the displacement of Aristotelian natural philosophy and Galen’s ancient medical doctrine. By the 18th century, scientific authority began to displace religious authority, and the disciplines of alchemy and astrology lost scientific credibility.
While the Enlightenment cannot be pigeonholed into a specific doctrine or set of dogmas, science came to play a leading role in Enlightenment discourse and thought. Many Enlightenment writers and thinkers had backgrounds in the sciences and associated scientific advancement with the overthrow of religion and traditional authority in favour of the development of free speech and thought. Broadly speaking, Enlightenment science greatly valued empiricism and rational thought, and was embedded with the Enlightenment ideal of advancement and progress. As with most Enlightenment views, the benefits of science were not seen universally; Jean-Jacques Rousseau criticized the sciences for distancing man from nature and not operating to make people happier.
Science during the Enlightenment was dominated by scientific societies and academies, which had largely replaced universities as centres of scientific research and development. Societies and academies were also the backbone of the maturation of the scientific profession. Another important development was the popularization of science among an increasingly literate population. Philosophes introduced the public to many scientific theories, most notably through the Encyclopédie and the popularization of Newtonianism by Voltaire as well as by Émilie du Châtelet, the French translator of Newton's Principia. Some historians have marked the 18th century as a drab period in the history of science;however, the century saw significant advancements in the practice of medicine, mathematics, and physics; the development of biological taxonomy; a new understanding of magnetism and electricity; and the maturation of chemistry as a discipline, which established the foundations of modern chemistry."
Movable Type Printing: The Early Global Communications Grid
"The near-simultaneous discovery of sea routes to the West (Christopher Columbus, 1492) and East (Vasco da Gama, 1498) and the subsequent establishment of trade links greatly facilitated the global spread of Gutenberg-style printing. Traders, colonists, but perhaps most importantly, missionaries exported printing presses to the new European oversea domains, setting up new print shops and distributing printing material. In the Americas, the first extra-European print shop was founded in Mexico City in 1544 (1539?), and soon after Jesuits started operating the first printing press in Asia (Goa, 1556).
For a long time however, movable type printing remained mainly the business of Europeans working from within the confines of their colonies. According to Suraiya Faroqhi, lack of interest and religious reasons were among the reasons for the slow adoption of the printing press outside Europe: Thus, the printing of Arabic, after encountering strong opposition by Muslim legal scholars and the manuscript scribes, remained prohibited in the Ottoman empire between 1483 and 1729, initially even on penalty of death, while some movable Arabic type printing was done by Pope Julius II (1503−1512) for distribution among Middle Eastern Christians, and the oldest Qur’an printed with movable type was produced in Venice in 1537/1538 for the Ottoman market.
In India, reports are that Jesuits "presented a polyglot Bible to the Emperor Akbar in 1580 but did not succeed in arousing much curiosity." But also practical reasons seem to have played a role. The English East India Company, for example, brought a printer to Surat in 1675, but was not able to cast type in Indian scripts, so the venture failed.
North America saw the adoption by the Cherokee Indian Elias Boudinot who published the tribe's first newspaper Cherokee Phoenix from 1828, partly in his native language, using the Cherokee alphabet recently invented by his compatriot Sequoyah.
In the 19th century, the arrival of the Gutenberg-style press to the shores of Tahiti (1818), Hawaii (1821) and other Pacific islands, marked the end of a global diffusion process which had begun almost 400 years earlier. At the same time, the 'old style' press (as the Gutenberg model came to be termed in the 19th century), was already in the process of being displaced by industrial machines like the steam powered press (1812) and the rotary press (1833), which radically departed from Gutenberg's design, but were still of the same development line."