The Forgotten Everyday Details

“Biography of the long-lost past poses special problems. The most basic knowledge proves elusive, often never recorded in the first place. It’s one thing never fully to know your subject’s thoughts and dreams. It’s another to visit a room, intact after 350 years, where a beam of sunlight shining through a prism produced the most famous optical experiment in the history of science, and still fail to find out whether there had been glass in the windows.”