At some point in the 1650s, the French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal jotted down one of the most counterintuitive aphorisms: “The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he cannot stay quietly in his room.”

Really? Surely having to stay quietly in one’s room must be the start of a particularly evolved type of psychological torture? What could be more opposed to the human spirit than to have to inhabit four walls when, potentially, there would be a whole planet to explore?

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