THE four names of Watt, Fulton, Stephenson, and Denis Papin, inscribed on the roof of the railway station at Blois, suggest a train of thought to the author in connection with the triumphs of steam and its applications. Having previously described the Chateau de Blois, the writer puts forward a proposal (sometimes he calls it a dream) to turn the now abandoned château into a noble valhalla of science. A principal feature is a statue of Papin (born at Blois about 1650); there should be also statues of other scientific writers of all time and climes, appropriate inscriptions, portraits on the walls, and representations of interesting scenes in the history of science, chambers for the exhibition of models and instruments, a scientific library, and other mattes. So his dream is to make this a Versailles of science. A classification of the sciences and a plan close this part of the pamphlet. We do not, however, concern ourselves here with this proposal or dream or whatnot, but pass on to a brief glance at the three appendices. The first is “Definition de la double-tendance Philosophique de la Science.” Noting the objects the “immortal” Bacon had in view in his New Atlantis, he applies himself to the consideration of what is the classification that we can make of the sciences, and combats Auguste Comte's arrangement according to the increasing complexity which appears inherent in them. In our author's eyes all sciences have the same complex character (caractère de complication) either virtually or actually. Comte begins with mathematics, Hugo exalts them to a high place: “L'intérêt philosophique des sciences mathématiques est de marcher à la rencontre des sciences naturelles. II n'y a rien là qui ressemble à une subordination des certaines sciences.” The second is “Examen géométrique sommaire des orbites planétaires (ovhélites).” The writer remarks that recent discoveries in Astronomy have pointed to a new movement of the solar system in space, hence the orbit or trajectory of our planets is not a plane curve. This orbit is ahelicoidal curve with an elliptical or oval projection. Hence ov-hél-ite. In the geometrical description of such a curve we must indicate whether the trace is dextrorsnm or sinistrorsiim. The ovhélites of the planets and of the earth are geometrically traced sinistrorsum. In this paper, which was originally communicated to the Mathematical Society of Paris, the author states the theorem “Les ovhélites planétairessont tracées sur Ies cylindres à section droite elliptique (sauf perturbation) ou du moins ovalaire. Une des lignes focales des susdites ovhélites est commune; cette ligne est la trajectoire solaire.” The third appendix is “Base scientifique de la numération décimale.” We will again let the Count speak for himself, “Je propose aujourd'hui d'utiliser une des plus anciennes et des plus curieuses théories de la géométrie, restée jusqu'à ce jour sans emploi, pour établir un lien entre la géométric et l'arithmétique, en donnant comme base à cette dernière science un nombre absolu et éternel.” The five regular solids were treated of by Pythagoras. Cauchy and Poinsot have added to these four stellated polyhedra. “En y joignant à mon tour la sphère (qui est le régulier infinioïidique) j'arrive à constituer géométriquement le nombre infranchissable de DIX.” Thus we see there is a resemblance between the nine digits and zero on the one hand and the nine regular polyhedra and the sphere on the other. Further, there is a curious feature, there are five primes among these, and there are five regular convex solids. Such then is “la conception philosophique et vraiment scientifique du nombre fundamental DIX.” After two thousand years we have arrived at an application of the theory of the regular figures, there is hope also of establishing a rival to Euclid. A commission was appointed in March of last year to pronounce upon the Hugodecimal theory. “De la propriété réguliére essentielle de l'espace, de l'absolu régulier, avoir fait jaillir le nombre DIX!” These are the principal points of interest in the pamphlet.
Le Valhalla des Sciences Pures et Appliquées,galerie commémorative et succursale du conservatoire des Arts et Métiers de Paris, a créer dans le Palais Newf de Mansart, au Cháteau de Blois. Par le Cte.
Léopold Hugo. (Paris, 1875)
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