Punch,  35 (1858), 144.

The Comet and the British Association



Reportage, Spoof


Astronomy, Lecturing, Societies, Language, Zoology, Physiology

    Subtitled 'Section, &c., Scientific Buffoonery', reports on a lecture on the comet by 'Professor Miller' (a reference to William A Miller) at the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting. The lecture explains the structure of the comet and draws out the comical associations of such terms as coma, nucleus (or kernel), Ursa Major, and revolution. For example, Miller points out that the word comet comes from coma 'not a state of insensibility, but a head of hair'. Adds that Edmond Halley's 'discovery' of a comet has won him 'a lasting reputation among philosophers', and compares Giovan B Donati to Johann F Encke, both of whom had comets named after them. Concludes by noting that Miller was pelted with orange peel at the end of his lecture.

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