1902 Encyclopedia > Aeronautics > Alchemical Notions. Lauretus Laurus. Cyrano de Bergerac. Cardan Fabry.

(Part 5)

Alchemical Notions. Lauretus Laurus. Cyrano de Bergerac. Cardan Fabry.

Similar notions have been revived at different times. They were likewise often blended with the alchemical tenets so generally received in the course of the 15th, 16th, and part of the 17th centuries. Thus Schott quotes Laurettus Laurus to the effect that if swans' eggs or leather balls be filled with nitre, sulphur, or quicksilver, and be exposed to the sun, they will ascend. It was also believed that dew was of celestial origin, being shed by the stars, and that it was drawn up again in the course of the day to heaven by the heat of the sun. thus Laurus states that hen's eggs filled with dew and exposed to the solar heat will rise. He was so grossly ignorant, however, of the principles of motion, that it is not worth while even to allude to his other assertions.

Cyrano de Bergarac (born 1620) wrote a philosophical romance entitled Histoire Comique des Estats et Empire de la Lune, and Les Estats et Empire du Soleil (from which Swift is supposed to have derived the idea of writing portions of Gulliver's Travels). To equip himself for performing the journey to the moon, the French traveler fastens round his body a multitude of very thin flasks filled with the morning's dew; the heat of the sun, by its attractive power on the dew, raised him up to the middle region of the atmosphere, whence, some of the flasks being broken, the adventurer sank again to the ground. Other aeronautical ideas occur in the romance.

Cardan proposed that ascensional power might be applied as in a rocket; and one Honoratus Fabry has described a huge apparatus, consisting of long tin pipes, worked by air compressed by the action of fire.

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