JF Ptak Science Books Post 1453
Okay, to be fair no one has ever had a year like Einstein's annus mirabilis of 19051 perhaps no one has really ever come close--he defines the incomprehensibly high achievement for a single (less than) 365-day time span. There was other stuff going on in 1905--Ernest Starling2 introduced the term "hormone", Vagn Ekman produced a beautiful paper on the mathematics of ice drift in the Arctic Sea and the ocean's responses to different sorts of winds, Eduard Zirn performed the first cornea transplant, Ejnar Hertzprung3 published his famous diagrams, Henry Gruppy empirically established the manner of plant dispersal in the Pacific region4, Maurice Frechet's groundbreaking work in topology, and Henrui Poincare and Howrd Ricketts and Oswald Veblen and so on. And the Wasserman test. It was a pretty bountiful year--and this was just in the sciences and maths.
And then there was the Russian Revolution (of 1905).
But also back there in 1905 Winsor McCay was having a terrific year--this was the man who revolutionized the comic strip. McKay may have been the Einstein of his field, and his work I think may still be the standard bearer for high excellence and creativity. It was in 1905 that he began his Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend and also the crowning masterpiece of the medium, Little Nemo in Slumberland. Nothing had really quite been seen like that before, two newspaper strips that were filled with vision and elegance and weirdness and the bizarre, beautiful stories illustrated on one sheet of paper, of great imagination and a wide stretch of subversiveness. They so captivated the readers of the time that McCay went off on illustrative lecture circuits, found movie (in their relative infancy) versions of his work, and performed in vaudeville venues along with Charlie Chaplin and W.C. Fields.
And then he created the animated cartoon.
Here's a page of Little Nemo:
I guess you can get the picture of what McCay brought to the world--examples of his work are all over the web, and have been published in eight (?) volumes of reprints. This was a particularly sumptuous time for this sort of story telling, but this is not the place to talk about anyone else, not really. (Okay--one very high talent is the seldom heard Rodolphe Topffer, but that's another story.)
And a very early Rarebit movie (which takes a little while to get moving):
And another, this an animated cartoon from 1921--it doesn't have anything to do with McCay in 1905, I just like its motion, and also because McCay is the father of the animated cartoon:
Can anyone say "Up"?
And then of course there's Gertie, the first animated cartoon:
1."Über einen die Erzeugung und Verwandlung des Lichtes betreffenden heuristischen Gesichtspunkt" Annalen der Physik 17: 132–148; "Über die von der molekularkinetischen Theorie der Wärme geforderte Bewegung von in ruhenden Flüssigkeiten suspendierten Teilchen" Annalen der Physik 17: 549–560; Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper" Annalen der Physik 17: 891–921; "Ist die Trägheit eines Körpers von seinem Energieinhalt abhängig?" Annalen der Physik 18: 639–641.
2. "On the Chemical Correlation of the Functins of the Body", not only defining the term but clarifying the hormone's function.
3. Hertzsprung, "Zur Strahlung der Sterne", with another paper of the same name later in 1907.
4. Observations of a Naturalist in the Pacific Between 1896 and 1899, the second volume, entitled Plant Dispersal, is where (surprise!) he discusses plant dispersal. But the really cool thing here is that he figured out that there were a lot of seeds that floated here and there in/on the Pacific, going place to place, finding out how long they could stay afloat, and so on. It was fantastic!