Christmas Day is celebrated by billions of Christians and non-Christians
Born in 1688, his vision and scientific mind were centuries ahead of his time. Many of his early discoveries in chemistry, physiology, anatomy, mathematics, astronomy and anatomy were only confirmed in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
Among the ideas, hypotheses and inventions which he was working on were:
#1 An airplane. His idea innovated stationary wings, a cockpit and a propeller-type mechanism. His idea has been described as the first rational proposal for a flying machine of the airplane [heavier-than-air] type.
#2 A Submarine. He described this in a letter to his brother as being: “a boat in which one could travel underwater wherever one wanted.“
#3 A machine gun that he said: “would shoot ten or eleven thousand shots an hour, the details of which I have carefully calculated and calibrated algebraically.”
#4 An innovative system of locks which he claimed worked even without a flow of water to raise a ship and cargo.
#5 A universal musical instrument – which he called a method: “by which the most unskilled in music can play all kinds of harmonies.”
#6 His significant anatomical research on brain functions pre-dated discoveries by 100 years. He identified the localization of functions controlling speech and movement; concluding the cerebral cortex’s role in sensory, motor and cognitive processes.
#7 In Astronomy, he suggested that all planets in the solar system had originated in the same mass, pre-dating the Kant–Laplace nebular theory.
#8 In Chemistry, he is credited with an early conception of atomic theory. He noted that matter consists of indefinitely divisible particles in constant swirling motion, themselves composed of smaller particles in motion. He also conceptualized a wave theory of light, seeing light as vibrations in the ether.
#9 His skill was in synthesizing ideas, or as he put it: “to uncover those secret recess where nature is sitting at the fires in the depths of her laboratory;” but his work was cut short by a religious crisis – he started having religious visions and grossly sexual dreams, which he wrote down, shocking many.
#10 He went on to develop and sustain various eccentric beliefs which included the conviction that he could converse with angels, speak to the dead and visit other planets.
#11 He devoted the rest of life to the spirit world. But science’s loss was literature and philosophy’s gain – the new and frankly bizarre direction in which he directed his enormous talents inspired generations of thinkers. After his death Swedenborg societies founded the Church of the New Jerusalem to continue spreading his message, while his visions inspired Yeats, Balzac, Baudelaire, and Emerson.