"I think we're still on that topic, still trying to figure out what computers are, how they change us, why we use them."
When searching for precious metals and minerals amongst the tiny planetoids orbiting in Saturn's rings, you need all the modern conveniences. Including a way to translate the return from an X gun into easily-identified patterns.
Joseph von Fraunhofer invented the spectroscope in 1814; the dark lines that are seen in the spectrum of light from the sun bear his name. The Fraunhofer lines weren't explained until the 1850's - as atomic absorption lines. Fraunhofer was a brilliant optician who learned how to make the world's highest quality optical glass from Benedictine monks. Unfortunately, he died at a young age (39), poisoned as many glass makers were by the heavy metal vapors used in glass manufacture.
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