Šm Nóe Calseoma [ˈno ɛ kal sɛ ˈjo ma] was an Érenati physicist and astronomer, the first on Almea to posit elliptical orbits for the planets.
She was born in Avéla in 3185, daughter of an Eleďe priest, Aďám Calseom. Aďám dabbled in alchemy and mathematics, and he soon noticed his daughter’s precocious calculating skills. With her help he pursued useless numerological studies— a typical observation was that the time between the conquest of Cuzei (1024) and the arrival of the Elenicoi (2780) was 1756 years, which is 123 + 33 + 13, reflecting the number of the Apostles, of aspects of God, and his Unity. He occasionally showed off her talents, such as multiplying four-digit numbers in her head, to friends; some of these eventually prevailed on him to send her to the University of Érenat. Aďám was not convinced— apart from her calculating skills he considered her dull— but he agreed when they arranged a scholarship for her. She completed her scrifteca in 3205, at the age of twenty.
She had a difficult time over the next few years: people were interested in a female prodigy, but not so much in a female professor. It didn't help that her social skills were undeveloped; though intelligent, she was never good at social protocol, making friends, or finding work. She tutored, helped several šriftomî with their mathematical papers (usually without credit), and translated manuscripts from Kebreni. Men found it easy to take advantage of her sexually; a student left her pregnant and fled town. She miscarried, and vowed “henceforth to eschew men’s beds”.
In 3212 a schoolmate, Nicano Nëronkúro, was put in charge of the observatory of Sfaicer, up the Eren valley, and he made her his assistant. Nëronkúro had a refracting telescope, invented just two decades back in Kebropol. He had improved the design himself; for some years Sfaicer could boast the best telescopes on Almea. His particular interest was the planets, and she was immediately enthralled with the work of analyzing their orbits. He followed the traditional geocentric model, attempting to explain the retrograde motion of the outer planets with epicycles. However, he introduced her to heliocentric models, which were notoriously popular in Xurno, though the Xurnese insisted on drawing circular orbits.
Nóe had no metaphysical prejudices, and she had access to the best observations anyone had yet taken of Vlerëi. She tried dozens of models, some of them enormously complex. Finally, in 3218, she tried elliptical orbits on a heliocentric model, and these fit Nëronkúro’s observations exactly. They immediately wrote a paper describing the model and sent it to Einatu Nëronlíno, an astronomer at the University of Érenat and a friend of Nicano's. Nëronlíno enthusisatically read the paper at the Scholars’ Circle of Avéla, which immediately sponsored a printed version and circulted it to savants across the northern countries.
The paper caused an immediate sensation. The older generation (with the notable exception of Śogum Ludahaḣceu, inventor of the telescope) harumphed, opining that the divine orbs could not be imperfect, and sniffing that a woman should stay out of matters too lofty for her. Younger scientists were fascinated, however, and soon confirmed both Nëronkúro’s observations and Nóe’s methods. The news even reached Xurno, where one Enirc avidly read about the new Northern theories, procured a telescope through a seafaring friend, and dreamed of a Salon of Prose that would provide official support for such revolutionary studies.
In 3219 Nëronkúro and Nóe were married. The next year, the two were offered the joint headship of the observatory at the University of Érenat. They accepted, and Nóe extended her analyses to the planets Hírumor and Išira, and also demonstrated that Hírumor’s moons orbited the planet.
Nóe tired of astronomy, however, and turned her attention to such studies as optics, magnets, and alchemy. Based on a description from a flaidish physicist, she made eyeglasses for herself; she made prisms and discovered the spectrum, though she only mentioned this in her private journal; she was apparently the first to suggest that compasses work because Almea functions as a magnet. She also spent— we might say wasted— a good deal of time attempting to refine her father’s numerological analyses of history; she rejected the idea that God encodes theological puzzles in history, but attempted to show that the rise and fall of empires, the length of dynasties, and the health and number of populations follows a set of rigid cycles.
She died of a fever in 3239.