The Penny Universities

It’s International Coffee Day, which makes me even more annoyed that I just returned from a shopping trip having forgotten to buy any (despite having “coffee” right at the top of my list..

The Renaissance Mathematicus

The Hungarian mathematician Alfréd Rényi famously quipped about his colleague Paul Erdös that, “a mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems”. However this theorem producing process didn’t start with Erdös in the twentieth century but became an established routine as soon the coffee house made its appearance in Restoration England in the second half of the seventeenth century.

The first coffee house in England, The Angel, opened in Oxford in 1650 closely followed by The Queen’s Lane Coffee House in 1654, which is still in existence. London’s first coffee house, owned by Pasqua Rosée opened in 1652. The Temple Bar, London’s second coffee house opened in 1656.

Coffee House Circa 1740, A London coffee house. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

From the very beginning English coffee houses became the favourite haunts of the virtuosi, the new generation of natural philosophers pushing the evolution of science forward in England in the…

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