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<   No. 1563   2007-05-08   >

Comic #1563

1 Terry: Steve! What happened?
1 Steve: Crikey! Some sort of demarcation dispute.
2 Yeti: Speaking of demarcation, we've performed the banishing ritual. Cthulhu can't return to Earth for 99 years. Unless someone deliberately summons him of course.
3 Yeti: And who would be crazy enough to do that?
4 {scene change: The Mythbusters studio}
4 Adam: Hmmm, an old copy of the Necronomicon... This will make a good future episode...

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Honestly, I don't think anything that anyone here is talking about is even remotely related to demarcation at all. It just sounds funny to use a long word completely in the wrong context, and glide right by as if they all understand what's being said.

Oh, and if you must know, the Necronomicon is the fictional(?) work by H. P. Lovecraft's "Mad Arab", Abdul Alhazred, which contains details of the horrible otherworldly entities of the Cthulhu mythos, including how to summon them.

Now lose 2d6 SAN.

2017-05-10 Rerun commentary: It's really quite astounding what old books you find lying around sometimes.

In 1417, Poggio Bracciolini, an early humanist scholar, found stashed away in an ancient German monastery a copy of a book. Opening the book, he saw the Latin name Lucretius, which he recognised as a name quoted by the great Roman lawyer and philosopher Cicero (106-43 BC): "The poems of Lucretius are as you write: they exhibit many flashes of genius, and yet show great mastership."

None of this Lucretius's works existed in any libraries that Poggio knew of. They had all been lost to the ravages of time. But here, lying forgotten in a dusty monastery in Germany was apparently a copy of one of his books. The work was De rerum natura, usually translated into English as On the Nature of Things. It is 7400 lines of poetry, giving a description of philosophy and physics from the Epicurean point of view - this being the teachings of the Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BC). Epicurus was one of the early atomists, following the physical teachings of Democritus (460-370 BC) and Leucippus (5th century BC).

As such, De rerum natura contains vivid descriptions of the universe as being composed of tiny, invisible, indivisible particles, which move around in a void and which combine to form all of the objects we see and interact with. From this simple idea, Lucretius develops many ideas that sound eerily familiar to students of modern physics and atomic theory. It was just philosophy in Lucretius's time, as the ancient Romans had no way to perform the necessary experiments to confirm the existence of atoms, but it was an astonishing way of considering the physical world as a place of cause and effect, divorced from the various supernatural influences that most people believed in.

Poggio had copies of De rerum natura made (by hand - this was before the printing press) and circulated to other scholars of antiquity, and so today we are able to read Lucretius's words ourselves.

If the monks in that German monastery had discovered such a thing now, just imagine how much they could have eBayed it for.

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