JF Ptak Science Books Post 1433
This blog's series on the History of Dots needs to be folded into the History of Circles section--it seems that whenever I see interesting circles that I am seeing dots, and vice versa; and after all, aren't circles just unfilled dots? An anti-dot (or at least so in two dimensions)? I like the idea, especially since one of the great and revolutionary ways in which particles were found was with the device pioneered by D.A. Glaser (Nobel physics, 1960), the bubble chamber, which through the use of superheated hydrogen (usually) it was possible to track electrically charged particles, often producing dots in their signatures.
Which leads me to bubbles and anti-bubbles. We all know what a bubble is--at least a physical one--but what about its opposite? Its not quite that, really, though there are bubbles that are liquids surrounded by gas rather than the much more conservative and popular way. And so it is this way that I came to the anti-dot, the circle, and then of course one of its three dimensional relatives, the bubble (and the sphere).
Earlier in this blog I've written a few times about the speech and though bubble/balloon, which was a fantastic invention, enabling to make literal the thinking of the subjects in a painting (and seen probably for the first time in a printed book in 1523, in this work about Bruno Carthasisienna):
I'm sure that there must've been some number of people who regarded it as base and retrograde, that the view of a print or painting should by the art's elements know what the characters might be thinking, and that by showing the specifics of thought, by boldly stating the thought or speech itself, that the experience is removed from the viewer's imaginations. Perhaps these thoughts were common to the people who considered the telephone as an affront to communication as an attempt to replace the written letter, and so on to fax to email to tweet and so on.
I have no idea when the first bubble as a bubble appeared in print, though a gorgeous version of a bubble-maker is seen on the cover of another "first": the first full-cover illustration on the front cloth cover of a published book1, Sir Francis Bond Heads (1793-1875) Bubbles from the Brunnens of Nassau, which was published by in 1834 by John Murray of London, who 25 years later would publish Darwin's Origin (where the word "bubble" by the way does not appear).
There are many illustrations and paintings of people blowing bubbles--I'm not sure which one is the most famous but Gerit Dou (1613-1675) certainly comes to mind (with his Still Life with a Boy Blowing Bubbles). Perhaps a ittle more unusual and also involving a great scientist is the economic bubble, which is the subject of this great print called "A Bubbler's Funeral". An economic bubble is one in which the value of a share of stock in a company or interest becomes hyper-inflated, expanding outward until the price bubble found its pin, and once contact is made, the whole thing goes to shamble, and anyone left holding the enormously inflated stock finds themselves with a stock worth next to nothing.
This image was a satire on the Ages of Man, professing to be a ticket for a Bubblers funeral, and was in 1720 aimed at the directors of the South Sea Company, a notorious early 18th century bubble, which had just burst. Many people lost fortunes in this, including the aged Sir Isaac Newton. The invitation was for a funeral profession to “accompany the whole Body of S.S. Directors from ye Bubbling house in the Broad way... to ye three Legged Tree near Padington on Fryday the of February 1720/1".
And so ends this first bot on folding the story of circles and bubbles into this blog's History of Dots. I should point out that one of the great bubbles of the last hundred years or so imploded only a dozen yers or so ago--the dot coms.
I wonder if the History of Holes thread should also be folded in?
1. From Princeton University: "Ellen Morris puts it in anything way, “This period also produced the first full-cover designs: John Murray’s 1834 issue of Bubbles from the Brunnens of Nassau is reputedly the earliest publisher’s cloth binding with a full pictorial design on its cover.” (The Art of Publishers’ Bookbindings 1815-1915).