Emanuel Swedenborg

Service to Country

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No summary of Swedenborg's public life would be complete without mention of the many occasions on which he put his mechanical genius to work for his country. King Charles XII asked him to serve as his engineering advisor after the King had been impressed by Swedenborg's contributions as editor of the scientific journal Daedalus, the first periodical devoted to the natural sciences ever published in Sweden. In the King's service, Swedenborg acted as construction supervisor on several important public works. His assignments involved creation of a dry-dock of new design, a canal, machinery for working salt springs, and a system for moving large warships overland. He also showed an inventive imagination in producing feasible sketches of futuristic machines including an airplane, a submarine, a steam engine, an air gun, and a slow- combustion stove.

Although no observer of nature in the 1700's had refined instruments to aid him, leading intellectuals developed the science of the times to a remarkable degree. The limited amount of knowledge made it possible for scholars to be conversant with a broader variety of studies than has been possible since, in the context of the explosion of scientific information during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Swedenborg's keen mind coupled with his extensive educational background placed him in the front rank of the learned scientists of the day.

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