September 22, 2020

Hugh Aldersey-Williams: Christiaan Huygens (1655)

In this episode of Travels Through Time the author and journalist Hugh Aldersey-Williams takes us back to 1655 and the vibrant heart of the Dutch Golden Age to meet Christiaan Huygens, a figure oddly forgotten by us today but who was once venerated as the greatest mathematician, astronomer and physicist of his age.

Hugh guides us back to the year 1655 to see Christiaan make his thrilling discovery of one of Saturn's moons; to watch him struggle with the mathematical problem of pendular motion, and to follow him as he enters Paris - the city he would come to love - for the very first time.

Much much more about the scenes, characters and materials discussed in this conversation can be found at

The discussion in this episode of Travels Through Time arises from the characters and events described by Hugh Aldersey-Williams in his new book, Dutch Light: Christiaan Huygens and the making of science in Europe which is recently published in hardback by Picador

Show notes

Scene One: 25 March 1655. With Christiaan and his telescope in the garden of the Huygens’s house in The Hague. The discovery of Saturn’s moon later to be called Titan.

Scene Two: 4 March 1655, Huygens recommends a Polish inventor’s clock for Dutch patent, demonstrating that he is already thinking about the problem of pendular motion.

Scene Three: 23 July 1655, Huygens arrives in Paris - the city that he would grow to love - for the very first time

Memento: One of Huygens’s magic lanterns


Presenter: Peter Moore

Guest: Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Production: Maria Nolan

Podcast partner: Colorgraph

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