How Johannes Kepler Discovered Sex

San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist Mark Fiore won the Pulitzer Prize yesterday for his animated political cartoons. His work appears exclusively online, so it's the first time a non-print cartoonist has won the Pulitzer in its history.

One of his submitted cartoons was Science-Gate, which mocks the scandal over the ClimateGate emails in the style of an overheated political ad.

All of the quotes scribbled by the scientists in this cartoon are real, including a jaw-dropping one by the 16th century German astronomer Johannes Kepler about how he had sex with a virgin:

I suffered continually from skin ailments, often severe sores, often from the scabs of chronic putrid wounds in my feet which healed badly and kept breaking out again. On the middle finger of my right hand I had a worm, on the left a huge sore. ... At Cupinga's I was offered union with a virgin; on New Year's Eve I achieved this with the greatest possible difficulty, experiencing the most acute pains of the bladder.

This Kepler quote comes from an essay by Evan S. Connell printed in his book The Aztec Treasure House.

Kepler was 21 when he started the New Year off with a bang. He suffered from "boils, mange, smallpox, hemorrhoids, constant stomach trouble, and such bad eyesight that he often saw his world doubled or quadrupled," Connell writes. "He seems to have been impatient, sarcastic, cowardly and stingy, and he almost never bathed."


Ha! I remember that quote from an older collection of Connell's essays. It defines how I think about Kepler to this day.

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