A la Croisée des Mondes
Philip Pullman

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     Let's focus on a few names appearing in His Dark Materials...


     He's among the renegade angels fighting against the Authority. He loves Balthamos and Balthamos loves him. When he was a man, Baruch was brother to Metatron. We meet him in The Amber Spyglass but also in the Old Testament: he was indeed disciple of the Biblical prophet Jeremiah, who would dictate to him his prophecies.
     The Book of Baruch, one of the deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament, includes a confession of sins and poems dedicated to the Jews of the diaspora.

Barnard & Stokes

      In Northern Lights, the Master mentions the Barnard & Stokes business (chapter 2, The Idea of North, page 32, Everyman's Library edition):

- Ah, it's not our field, Charles. As I understand it, the Holy Church teaches that there are two worlds: the world of everything we can see and hear and touch, and another world, the spiritual world of heaven and hell. Barnard and Stokes were two - how shall I put it - renegade theologians who postulated the existence of numerous other worlds like this one, neither heaven nor hell, but material and sinful. They are there, close by, but invisible and unreachable. The Holy Church naturally disapproved of this abominable heresy a,d Barnard and Stokes were silenced.
     But unfortunatelly for the Magisterium there seems to be sound mathematical arguments for this other-world theory. I have never followed them myself, but the Cassington Scholar tells me that they are sound...

     Let's now have a closer look at Barnard and Stokes, who did exist in our world but never did work together or studied similar fields of sciences. Furthermore, their period of activities coincide only over a few years.


Barnard, Edward Emerson (1857-1923) :
American astronomer, he discovered about twenty comets, created a consequent collection of photographies of the Milky Way (Photographic Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way, still printed nowadays) and observed in 1892 for the first time since Galileo a jovian satellite, Amalthea, giving way to many more similar discoveries over the following years. A star in the Ophiucus constelation is named after him: the Barnard Star, a red dwarf star of spectral range M5 that he observed in 1916. This star is also the closest to Earth after the triple system of Alpha Centauri.
Detailed biography

George Gabriel Stokes

Sir George Gabriel Stokes (1819 - 1903):
Irish physicist and mathematician, his works covered many fields of fluid hydrodynamics (he extended Euler's work to take into account the viscosity of fluids, establishing Navier-Stokes equations) and optics (luminescence, polarization, diffraction). He chaired for thirty years as President of the Royal Society and published various texts of natural theology as well.
Detailed biography

Biographies: Wikipedia, French and English pages
Portrait and biography E.E. Barnard: L'Astronomie, 01/1923 as available on BNF's website, Gallica (public domain)
Portrait G.G. Stokes: Wikipedia (public domain)
© Hachette Multimédia / Hachette Livre, 2000

Last Update: November 2019


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