Trumpet form the rooftopsPublic Domain
Third Postscript (1st October 2014) A new blog post on this specific topic, which builds on research I conducted on 29th September 2014 can be found by clicking here
Second Postscript (29 September 2014).
Asteroid Etymology: Storm in a Chamomile Teacup
In light of the number of pre-1801 publications - newly re-discovered to date (currently all are botanical) with big data ID research methods - that actually include the word 'asteroid' might it not be a reasonable hypothesis that: ‘The number of earlier publications containing the word asteroid, or asteroides , (or asteroidem in Latin) exponentially increases the likelihood that the astronomy term ‘asteroid’ was actually adopted from botany rather than completely and independently coined anew by the son of Burney Jr?
Most importantly, therefore, would not the same hypothesis apply to the exponentially increased likelihood that Banks actually new that the term 'asteroid' was not coined independently of its earlier botanical use?
Note: These facts are all highly relevant since Banks and Hershel, both leading lights of the Royal Society, were at the centre of choosing and approving the astronomical term asteroid in the first half of the nineteenth century (Cunningham and Orchiston 2011 ). Does it not seem more likely than not that Banks and other botanists in the Royal Society would have informed Herschel that the word Asteroid was common parlance among botanists? This seems all the more likely since Banks knew Forster, and Forster (1771), by then despised by the Royal Society, was the first to use the word 'asteroid' in a book written in English - as opposed to Latin.
To that end I conducted a little further ID research on the word ‘asteroid’ and found it used many more times in a great number of botanical publications pre-1861 - In Latin and in English.
What follows is a mere sample timeline of books now newly “re-discovered” to have used the words ‘asteroid’ asteroides' and 'asteroidem' 'to refer to type of flower pre-Burney Jnr’s son proposing it in 1801
1. 1588 Girolamo Brisiano. Totius philosophiae synopsis, brevi methodo comprehensa... On Page 88 [NOTE: This is APPARENTLY the first currently 're-discovered' book among others independently detected by Sutton , on 29 September 2014, with the ID method, to have used the plural word 'asteroides' prior to 1861
2. 1700 Josephi Pitton Tournefort ... Institutiones rei herbariae, Volume 1 On page 51 - uses 'asteroides' as the plural - NOTE From this date onwards ID reveals over 100 books containing the word 'asteroides' between 1700 and 1801.
3. 1754 Plantarum quae in agro Veronensi reperiuntur supplementum seu volumen tertium. Opera Jo. Francisci Seguierii On Page 308 First discovered (to date) use of the word ‘asteroid’ in Latin as the singular ‘asteroidem’ [Note: this is the first - APPARENTLY -' re-discovered' SINGULAR use of the word asteroid in any language.Discovered by Sutton with the ID method on 29 September 2014]
4. 1767 - Caroli a Linné Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, Volume 3. On page 563– Discovered by Cunningham (date of discovery unknown but is definitely prior to 17th September 2014 and is apparently cited in his PhD thesis. Date of publication of Dr Cunningham’s PhD thesis is currently unknown). This is currently the first known 're-discovered' publication of the word 'asteroid' in the singular.
5. 1771 (First currently discovered English language publication containing the word asteroid in the singular) John Forster (1771) Flora Americæ Septentrionalis; Or a Catalogue of the Plants of North America.Containing an Enumeration of the Known Herbs, Shrubs, and Trees, Many of which are But Lately Discovered; Together with Their English Names, the Places where They Grow, Their Different Uses, and the Authors who Have Described and Figured Them. B. White; and by T. Davies SOURCE: On Page 37 [ Independently discovered by Sutton using the ID method - and details published below on June 15th 2014 ].
6. 1771 Travels Through that Part of North America Formerly Called Louisiana, Volume 2 By M. Bossu. Translated by Forster and containing his earlier (above) publication of 1771. On Page 53. [ Independently discovered by Sutton using the ID method - on September 29 2014 ].
7. 1795 - Der Gartenfreund: Ein Auszug aus des Herrn D. J. G. Krünitz ökonomisch technologischen Encyklopädie. Von Aa bis Bel : Mit 3 1/8 Bogen Kupfer, Volume 1.On page 513. [ Independently discovered by Sutton using the ID method - on September 29 2014 ].
8. 1796 - Démonstrations élémentaires de botanique, contenant les principes généraux ...By François Rozier, Marc-Antoine-Louis Claret de La Tourrette. On page 516.[ Independently discovered by Sutton using the ID method on 29th September 2014 ]
Is this a Science Problem in Need of a Solution?
The big data ID method reveals that the extensive botanical literature was literally awash with the word 'asteroid' for at least 273 years before the son of Burney Jr first proposed it be used in astronomy in 1801.
As more and more pre-1861 publications containing the word 'Asteroid turn up - as they surely will as more and more books are scanned by the mighty Google Library Project - how might we calculate the probability that the son of Burney Jr, and/or Banks / Herschel knew full well that the word originated in botany and was not coined anew by Burney Jr.?
Meanwhile, intuitively, surely it is hard to believe that the members of the Royal Society, many of whom were botanists and polymaths, who sat in judgment of the choice of the world 'asteroid', who were members of various other clubs and societies founded with the sole purpose of sharing information, would have been oblivious to the fact that the word asteroid was common parlance in the field of botany. More so since Hershel's friend, Banks was a botanist and knew well the, by then, despised Forster who was, apparently, first to go into print with a botanical book written in English that contained the word 'asteroid.'
Summary and Conclusion
- Dr Clifford Cunningham discovered that all the astronomy textbooks are wrong to claim that Herschel coined he term 'asteroid' for space rocks. Because his expert archive research proved that the son of Burney Jr suggested it and that this suggestion was conveyed directly to Herschel, as Cunningham (2013) informs us: "Asteroid was Herschel's choice, but it was not his creation."
- Cunningham (2014) concludes from this that the son of Burney Jr. coined the word anew in 1801 - being a Greek scholar (Sept 19th 2014. See below in the comments section of this blog): 'Burney Sr., who began with the prefix "aster" was a musicologist, not a botanist, and would certainly have no knowledge of the use by Linne. Burney Jr., who added the suffix "oid" was a Greek scholar with no interest in or knowledge of botany. The letters of Burney Sr. make it clear what his inspiration was, and it had nothing whatever to do with Linne or any other botanist. The Burney creation of "asteroid" was as a new word in English as derived from Greek, nothing to do with botany'.
- An alternative explanation, discovered with ID's unique ability to search millions of forgotten - and incredibly hard to otherwise find - books, is that the word 'asteroid' would have been already well known to key members of the Royal Society in 1801. Because the word in the plural 'asteroides', and in the singular 'asteroidem' had by 1801 been used in many books on botany for 273 years to classify chamomile (yellow star wort - also known as fever wort). Between 1700 and 1801 the word 'asteroides' is used in over 100 books. Jospeh Banks of the Royal Society - was a famous botanist and he knew Herschel well, Banks, therefore, it seems highly probable, would have told Herschel that the word was very far from being new in 1801. Moreover, Banks knew the by then the much despised Forster - who had in 1771 used the word 'asteroid' in a botanical book written in English. In sum, my alternative hypothesis is that Burney Jr and his son might well have genuinely and honestly believed that they had uniquely coined a new word for space rocks, but others in the Royal Society - Herschel included - morel likely than not knew that they had coined nothing new.
First Postscript dated 18 September 2014
Example of unique strength and limitations of the IDD method kindly revealed by Dr Clifford Cunningham, who in fact found an earlier published use of the word asteroid and published it in his bound and completed final Ph.D. thesis. Presumably, by the tone and nature of his complaint, Dr Clifford's thesis was finalized, bound and finally published before the 2013 Smithsonian article, cited below, which failed to report information inside that PhD thesis and - also - it follows, before 15th June 2014 when the original blog post (see below) was first published and made the bold claim that I was first to re-discover a pre-1861 publication of the word Asteroid.
Armed with this intelligence, we know now - by combining what Cunningham found and uniquely published first with what I found and uniquely published first (see below) - that at least two famous books, published by two famous authors, contained the word asteroid before the son of Burney Jr recommended it be used in 1802.
IMPORTANT REFUTATION RESPONSE FROM
Dr. Clifford Cunningham
September 17, 2014 at 10:04 am Refutation of Your Asteroid Claim.
Since my professional research is being misrepresented in this blog, I feel compelled to respond. First, I did not claim the word asteroid was created by Burney Jr in 1801. The correct year is 1802. Second, this attack on my credibility was based entirely on a newspaper story that originally appeared in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. While it covered the main points, the writer did not even know the difference between etomology and etymology, so clearly this story (which was repeated by the Smithsonian website) is not a reliable source. The actual scholarly source for my research is contained in my PhD thesis, which was rated "great" and "worthy of a gold medal" by its professional examiners. The fact that the word asteroid had been used prior to 1802 is included in my thesis, but it was deemed irrelevant to my discovery that it was coined anew to describe Ceres and Pallas. Third, the IDD method is clearly faulty as a simple search on Google books will reveal that "asteroid" was coined for botanical use by the great Carl Linnaeus himself in 1767, four years before Forster used it. It is in the incredibly famous book Systema Naturae, Tomus II, on pg. 563. Thus, your entire premise collapses like a house of cards. The "rather improbable" was in fact reality.
I would appreciate it if the author either took down this page entirely as personal embarrassment to him, or at the very least acknowledged my position as the world authority on historical asteroid research.
[ Please refer to comments section below for an interesting, enlightening, and important discussion -with Dr Cunningham and interim recognition of his apparently superior knowledge on the topic. Although we are awaiting routine confirmation from Dr Cunningham that his PhD thesis was successfully examined, defended, bound and published prior to June 15 2014 (when this blog was first published) so that he can be undoubtedly considered the world's leading authority on his highly specific topic.
In light of what Dr Cunningham tells us, we now know that there was not just the one book he names that was discovered by him, but at least two publications (once we add the one independently discovered and then first published here by me) that used the word 'asteroid' before the son of Charles Burney Jr suggested its use.
Mike Sutton ].
My ORGINAL 15 June 2014 - completely unedited - blog post - follows
The word asteroid is clearly one that is created from Greek asteroeidēs ‘starlike’, from astēr ‘star’ and from ‘oid’, which means like - from the Latin oides.
My Chambers Dictionary of Etymology (2012) has it that the word asteroid was first published in 1802. But it’s wrong, as is every other source including Wikipedia on 15th June 2014, which is the day I bust the Asteroid Myth.
Cunningham and Orchiston ( 2011) have the word 'asteroid' as being William Herschel’s invention in 1801 and was introduced to the Royal Society in 1802. They wrote: ‘The word “asteroid” was coined by Herschel,” But that too is wrong! Because Cunningham changed his mind two years later with new knowledge that the word ‘asteroid’ was supposedly coined by the son of Charles Burney Jr –in 1801 (Smithsonian.com).
At the time of writing, Cunningham is boldly claiming a new discovery that the son of Herschel's, Greek scholar poet friend Charles Burney Jr., originated the word asteroid in 1801 and, from that independently coined source, Burney gave it to Herschel: “It will actually cause books to be rewritten and dictionaries to be revised," said the astronomer. see here, and later: here. But, I am sorry to say that Clifford Cunningham's, revised knowledge is wrong about who actually coined the word 'asteroid', despite being most fascinating, compelling and hard won by years of expert, unique and extremely valuable research. The reason being that I achieved in five minutes what Cunningham could not have discovered in his 30 years of painstaking research into this precise topic. I expect that neither Cunningham nor any other scholar could have found out who actually coined the word 'asteroid' in 100 lifetimes with traditional expert scholarly techniques. After all, at what point would an astronomer start trawling through all the old books on plants to find the one word asteroid hidden on just one musty page in just one book?
'Big Data' 'Internet Date Detection' (IDD) analysis – the exact same new method that proved neither Darwin nor Wallace independently discovered ‘natural selection’ (Sutton 2014) - allowed me to boldly and uniquely go further than any other astronomer or etymologist to bust both the Herschel and Burney Asteroid Myths in just five minutes.
My Internet Date Detection (IDD) research method allowed me to analyse over 30 million documents in Google’s library to uniquely discover that John Reinhold Forster (1771, p. 37) used the word asteroid to name the chamomile flower fully thirty years before current knowledge has it as either Burney's or Herschel’s creation in 1801.
Using my IDD research method to search all the literature in Google's amazing Library Project, I was unable to find any other published sources of the word asteroid that came before Forster's 1771 book. Such a source might well exist, but it it does it has not yet been uploaded to the Internet. As for the existence of any other published sources between 1771 and 1801, I've not looked. If you want to find out for yourself then click here to learn how to use the IDD research method and see if you can add to our knowledge. Who knows, perhaps you will uniquely find a pre-1802 document containing the word 'asteroid' that we know, from the wider literature, was read by either Hershel or Banks.
Trumpet from the rooftopsPublic Domain
Earlier use of the word asteroid from 1771
Matricaria, Fever Few, Asteroid
In typical 18th century archaic fonts, the lower case s appears like a modern f. Therefore, in the above image from Forster (1771) you can see the word 'asteroid' and discern also that it is likewise an s and not an f in the abbreviation 'Penslyv.'
Trumpet from the rooftopsPublic Domain
Fever few - named also in 1771 as 'asteroid'
Maticaria, also known as ‘fever few’, is a daisy lookalike plant perhaps best known today as chamomile.With hindsight, unsurprisingly, in light of my discovery, it is known also as one of the Aster family of plants asteraceae.
Trumpet from the rooftopsPublic Domain
Forster - published the word asteroid in 1771
Unless new evidence of earlier use comes to light it appears that John Rhinehold Forster, who was born in Poland in 1729, a German pastor-naturalist of Scottish descent coined the word asteroid whilst living in England in 1771. A year later he was made a fellow of the Royal Society.
In hs youth Forster was an outstanding student of ancient languages before making his name as the first leading authority on North American botany. He famously sailed with Captain Cook on Cook's second Pacific voyage and became professor of natural history and mineralogy at the University of Halle.
The word asteroid currently appears, then, to have been coined by Forster in 1771
Asteroid was, apparently, first an obscure botanical name, coined by Forster for a star shaped flower, before it was adopted by astronomers many years later.
Trumpet from the rooftopsPublic Domain
Did William Herschel or Charles Burney read Forster's famous book on North American plants before offering-up the word asteroid? Perhaps someone will soon find out. I'm not sure I've got the stomach to go looking myself - my recent research into the plagiarism by Darwin and Wallace, of another Scot - Patrick Matthew, has left me a little jaded and I'm rather tired of digging about in such foul historical matters this year. But some telling clues are present for anyone who cares to dig deeper in the hidden historical record and associated published literature. Perhaps Cunningham might use these initial clues to go deeper and tell a fuller story of the naming of the Asteroid? Firstly, Forster's associate, Joseph Banks of the Royal Society, had first been chosen for Cook's second Pacific voyage. Forster stepped into that role at Bank's recommendation, and they knew one another as fellow botanists as well as through being fellow's of the Royal Society. Of course, both Herschel (FRS) and Forster (FRS) were Royal Society fellows. But it is notable that they were also fellow Germans. These facts are all highly relevant since Banks and Hershel, both leading lights of the Royal Society, were a the centre of choosing and approving the astronomical term asteroid in the first half of the nineteenth century (see Cunningham and Orchiston 2011). Moreover, there may have been a powerfully malevolent reluctance to cite Forster because he was not well liked. In fact there would have been a great and powerful reluctance to acknowledge Forster's apparent coinage of the word asteroid since he had incurred the wroth of some of the most powerful men in England for publishing his findings separately from the official account of Cook's second Pacific voyage (see here). Forster died in 1798, three years before the word Asteroid was first proposed by Herschel. Forster has been described as '...a disagreeable sort who did not inspire trust, he soon found that professional opportunities for him in England had dried up.'
Forster is recognised as one of the earliest scholars to formally teach natural history. He knew many great men of science. For example, besides Banks he was well known to Benjamin Franklin.
It seems rather improbable to me that the word asteroid was coincidentally and independently coined by Burney's son and offered to Herschel given the close connections between Herschel and Forster via Banks. Most significantly, Banks recommended Forster to take his place on Cook's second Pacific voyage (see here).
Forster may well have been much despised by many members of the scientific establishment in the Royal Society, for publishing - against strict (though unfair) Admiralty prohibition - his independent account of discoveries made on the second Pacific voyage. Forster's disobedience towards the British Admiralty, a major source of scientific funding at the time, might explain the intense antipathy towards Herschel's (1802) choice of the word asteroid. If the widespread objection to the word asteroid was so politically motivated then the conventions of gentlemen of science of the Royal Society, and the British Association for Advancement of Science, would have forbidden any mention of that fact in the published scientific literature - a fact which might well explain the "asteroid-rage" displayed by members of the Royal Society who objected to Herschel's use of the word. Beyond pointing out these related facts that make Forster's and Herschel's use of the word asteroid a coincidence beyond belief, it is profitless, without more data, to construct and choose between unproven mere possibilities for any purpose other than entertaining self-excitement.
Whatever the facts of the case - which may never be known - in light of my discovery about Forster's earlier use of the word asteroid, more research is definitely needed by experts in the field.
I recently gave my five year old daughter chamomile tea to help with symptoms of a stomach upset, and it seemed to work. She certainly got a lot of comfort from sipping it and believing it was helping. Perhaps now chamomile should be re-branded as “Asteroid Tea”?
Many years ago, I was once given a most delicious bottle of sweet home made chamomile wine when I visited someone in the French Alps. Since many more myths will be busted before the meteorological impact of big data analysis is done. I suspect that something stronger than a non-alcoholic herbal infusion will be required to comfort some of the expert authors of erroneous books and scholarly articles. Sweet soothing, delicious, aromatic, chamomile - "Asteroid Wine" - perhaps? Apparently "Asteroid Tea" is good for migraines - although nothing more than a placebo effect has been established, as far as I know..
I wonder if Asteroid Tea might ameliorate the effects of too much Asteroid Wine? Now that is one little experiment I might just conduct one day. Any chance of getting it funded do you think?
All joking and shameless trumpeting aside, I sincerely hope that Cunningham, or a similarly high-calibre expert, can utilise the discovery, uniquely revealed in this blog post, and set it in context of Cunningham's steadfast and important expert research into this particularly fascinating episode in the history of science.
Reinhold Forster, John (1771) Flora Americæ Septentrionalis; Or a Catalogue of the Plants of North America.Containing an Enumeration of the Known Herbs, Shrubs, and Trees, Many of which are But Lately Discovered; Together with Their English Names, the Places where They Grow, Their Different Uses, and the Authors who Have Described and Figured Them. B. White; and by T. Davies