**A nice early version, without the turtles.**

I've been reading The Education of Henry Adams because I heard that this descendant of two US presidents had some interesting perspectives on the effects of technological progress on peoples' lives—in his case, in the latter half of the 19th century, when things changed more than they have in the second half of the 20th. Near the end, he quotes the French mathematician Henri PoincarĂ©:

Doubtless if our means of investigation should become more and more penetrating, we should discover the simple under the complex; then the complex under the simple; then anew the simple under the complex; and so on without ever being able to foresee the last term.

It reminds me of the turtles all the way down story, whose earliest mentions come several decades after PoincarĂ© and Adams. Wikipedia has a nice overview of the various location/lecturer/audience-member attributions included in popular versions of this story of the earth's cosmology.