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Hutchinson's Splendour of the heavens; a popular authoritative astronomy, by Theodore Philips and William Steavenson, was a splendid popular work filled with fine images, some of which were rather unusual. One that I thought I had to share was the f=one below, which contains the first time that I have seen the phrase "Our Puny Earth!" in a non-comic book. It is also a nice graphical display of data underneath the "puny Earth" bit--enjoy.
[Source: Internet Archive, https://archive.org/stream/hutchinsonssplen01philuoft#page/418/mode/thumb]
"The color of the water on Mars appears then to be same as that of terrestrial water..." --Camille Flammarion, Scientific American Supplement, May 10, 1879, pp2787-2788
Image source: Google books, where the full text of the article is available. My own copy was simply too large for scanning.
The original weekly issue of Scientific American with this article is available for purchase via the blog bookstore, here.
I found this interesting map of Mars in the May 10, 1879 issue of the Scientific American Supplement. The partially-anonymous author straight-away makes a provocative claim,
"WHEN sixteen years ago I published the last edition my work The Plurality of Inhabited Worlds I did expect to see the speedy confirmation that the progress astronomy was to give to my essay by allowing us so speak to put our finger on the manifestations of life"
and then spends the rest of the article supporting the reinterpretation of Mars as another Earth.
This is hardly an early assumption of the provocative thought of life elsewhere in the universe--there are a number of authors who have written on the topic, and for hundreds of years prior to this. (Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds by the wicked-smart aesthete Bernard le Bovier de Fontanelle was published in 1686--the year before Newton's Principia--and elegantly argued for teh plurality of worlds and inhabited earth-like planets revolving around other stars, spread throughout the universe. Cyrano de Bergerac, Christian Huygens, J.J.L. Lalande--with an interesting Christian-based pluralist argument for not restricting the glory of the Creator's efforts to simply life here on Earth, and (later) David Brewster, each wrote convincingly on the prospect of extraterrestrial life.)
The author of this article turns out to be Camille Flammarion, an abundantly creative writer and observer, perhaps not so well known today as he should or could be, a sub-Verneian astronomer/publisher/writer whose ideas did not make it much past the nineteenth century. (And perhaps he or the editors at the Scientific American felt it unnecessary to identify him except by the title of one of his books because he was so very well known at that point, being the author of 70 books and all, and also for being perhaps the most talented of pop-science writers.) He does give us this map, though, and tries with a mighty effort to solidify the gauzy appearances of structure of the Martian surface. He honors astronomers with the continents and oceans that he sees, and is far more universal/multi-cultural in his acknowledgement of scientific accomplishment. Here we see the oceans Kepler and Newton, and seas of Hooke (somewhat surprisingly), and (Giacomo) Maraldi (Italian, 17th c), and Huggins, Maedler; and land masses of Copernicus, Galileo, Herschel, Cassini, Tycho, Laplace, Huygens. This version of the map comes 14 years after Proctor's first attempt at a Martian map1 (and evidently the first map of Mars with a precise nomenclature) and which itself came another 25 years after the first first map of Mars by Wilhelm Beer (1797-1850) and Johann Heinrich Mädler (1794-1874).
Flammarion makes a strong case for life on Mars even without evidence, or at most the scanty suggestion of scientific proof, which is perhaps one reason why his brand of scientific adventurism and speculation didn't survive into very much of the 20th century. Here are some examples from the article:
"Can there be red meadows and red forests up there? Can it be that trees with foliage offer a substitute there for our quiet and delightfully shaded woods and are our scarlet poppies typical of the botany of Mars?"
"Are we authorized create all these analogies? In reality we see only red green and white blotches on the little disk of this planet. Is the indeed terra firma is the green really water and is the indeed snow In a word is this truly a world like our own?"
The question is asked, and then answered immediately in the next paragraph:
"Yes! Now we are able to assert it. The appearance Mars varies constantly. White spots move about over disk too often modifying its apparent configuration spots can be nothing but clouds. The white spots at increase or diminish according to the seasons like our terrestrial circumpolar ice fields which would precisely the same aspect the same variations to an placed on Venus..."
Elsewhere in his Celestial Wonders, Flammarion writes: “The world of Mars is so much alike the world on Earth that, had we traveled thither someday and forgotten our route, it would be almost impossible for us to tell which of the two is our native planet. Without the Moon, which would mercifully relieve our incertitude, we would run the enormous risk of calling upon the natives of Mars while assuming we have landed in Europe or in some terrestrial neighborhood.”
1. The Proctor Map of Mars
[Source: Wiki, here. R.A. Proctor: Other Worlds than Ours. London, printed in 1870, page 94.]
The Proctor map was in turn based upon earlier work by Dawes:
[Source: Planetologia, http://planetologia.elte.hu/ipcd/proctor_1865.jpg And in general see this link for much more in-depth appreciation and history of the Proctor map.]
Rabinqueau was a sort of intellectual performance artist provocateur, who made a living on his brain, writing scientific and pseudo-scientifically on a number of subjects as well as being a paid-for scientific performer. he would demonstrate to paying audiences various experiments in optics and light and electricity and magnetism, though he would sometime veer far away from the safely trodden fields of science into new scientific theories, many of which would put a considerable distance between himself and recognition from the Academie Royale des Sciences.
For example, he developed a number of pseudo-magical physical ideas and astrological bits, as well as a fire-based theory of electricity in which the very substance of the universe is occupied by fire. (See Popular Science and Public Opinion in Eighteenth-Century France, by Michael R. Lynn, p 51.) Even though his ideas and results were far from the known science of such topics, he held a special affinity for the superiority of his own ideas, and stuck by them. His universal fire theory at the very least resulted in an insistence for Outsidery consideration of cosmological questioning and display, as see in this beautiful engraving:
The image appeared as the frontispiece to his Le Microscope moderne. [Treatise on cosmography], which appeared in 1781, and which seems to me to be sort of late in the game for these theories to be making an appearance. Source: Newberry Digital Library. (The image also makes an appearance with a different interpretation in Barbara Maria Stafford's Good Looking, Essays on the Virtue of Images, p. 93.)
And a detail:
Rabinqueau also developed an electrical, friction-based theory of the sexes, involving much rubbing and electrified ovaries, but this idea didn't go very far. (See: The Psychoanalysis of Fire, by Gaston Bachelard, page 26.)
The original print is available from the blog's bookstore, here.
J.G. Heck wrote and compiled a fascinating and complex work entitled The Iconographic Encyclopedia of Science, Literature and Art, which was published in the United States for the first time in 1851 following Spencer Baird’s translation from its original German. The artwork is detailed, and deep, fantastically controlled, and very instructive
The key to his work is the amount of data displayed on each of the 500 engraved plates illustrating this work and the way in which it is arranged. The design and layout of the 30,000 items on these 500 plates was a work of genius, and for my money it is easily the best-presented complex means of the display of data and objects that was published in the 19th century.
For example, in the plate above is displayed the progression of the seasons. It is a beautiful work--the original measuring about 12x9"--with great detail in the inset globes, which measure in the original only about 1.5:" in diameter. It is an excellent work of exactness and shading.
This is the heart of the beautiful orrey created by William Pearson (1767-1847, and one of the founders of the Royal Astronomical Society) as found in the magisterial if not occasionally problematic Cyclopedia of Abraham Rees (1743-1825). It was published in 1817 and features the main gearing for a mechanical display of the functioning of the Solar System:
This is the detail from the following, full-length version, which is 8"x10"--so there's a fair amount of detail in a limited field:
And the beautiful Dadaist detail of Jupiter and Saturn:
The original print is available from the blog's bookstore, here.
JF Ptak Science Books Post 1107 (from 2010, Appended April 27, 2015) [A continuation of our History of Dots series.]
The history of dots must have some fair share of its content filled with a very varied history of astronomy, which just goes to show that even within the seeming-sameness of microscopic investigations of dots that its subcategories could be so vast and differentiated. (The image above is a small detail from the following image, below.)
Dots aren’t necessarily just dots–even in representing the stars, dots have a rich history. The first star-dots published in the West appear in 1482, taken from the work of the first century astronomer and philosopher Hyginius1, and is a book that contains maps of the constellations composed of such beautiful light-encrusted bits. There wouldn’t be another work like this one, strangely, for another 75 years. Alessandro Piccolomini’s2 work of 1559 (which would be the first true star atlas), and again we see the familiar representation.
Galileo’s dots were very aggressive. By 1610 he had produced his fifth and most powerful telescope, allowing things to be seen one thousand times closer, using it to make enormous discoveries–discoveries so big in fact that their towering significance is a but hard to understand today in the context of early 17th century knowledge. It was all published in his fantastic Sidereus Nuncius on March 4, 1610—the extraordinary very title page3 of the book proclaiming some of the great discoveries of Galileo’s adventure.
One monumental outcome of Galileo’s work was expanding the number of stars in the sky, which was basically mucking around with the perfect plan of the creator–formerly a cornerstone for the existence of a divine being. With the exception of comets and eclipses the sky had remained immutable, a perfect score of the creator’s creation, until 1572, when Tycho Brahe noticed something new in Cassiopeia, something that was not a comet—a “something” that was a star. This was momentous because the night sky had been seen for centuries as being complete—a new star, the Nova of Brahe, contradicted this high belief, offering the possibilities of newness where there had not been one previously. And so too with Kepler’s new star of 1602.
One of the things that Galileo brought to the world was an entirely new sky, revealed to him through his telescope—so many stars that he could only guess (though he reckoned that there was an order of magnitude more stars than previously known “stars in myriads, which had never been seen before….and which surpasses the old, previously known, stars by ten times”).
Which brings me to the images that I stumbled on today from “Statement of Views respecting the Sidereal Universe”4which was the work of the astronomer and great popularizer, Richard A. Proctor (“B.A. (Cambridge), Honorary Fellow of King's College, London”).
Proctor’s dots challenge all dots that have come before so far as theorizing on the structure (and extent) of the Milky Way is concerned. Proctor refers to William Herschel’s5--the man who first gave the Milky Way its shape and who fixed our own sun in an inferior and not-particularly-special place inside that map--statement that the extent and constitution of the Milky Way is “unfathomable”.
Proctor gets there by presenting a map of the night sky with stars visible to the naked eye:
And then the double hemisphere map of the northern and southern skies “We have here the first step towards just views of the constitution of the Milky Way, or rather the next step beyond the great, but little noticed, discovery of Sir W. Herschel's, that the bright clouds of the Milky Way are for the most part spherical clusters of stars.”(Page 546.)
Finally is the crux of the matter: two sections of an fantastic map displaying 324,198 stars visible via a 2.5 inch aperture telescope.
(The following being a small detail in the above section:)
He comments:“I assert, without the slightest fear of contradiction by any possessing such knowledge, that the broad teaching of the equal-surface chart. 0/3 24,000 stars disposes finally of all theories of the constitution of the sidereal universe which had previously been enunciated. The chart does not definitively indicate a new theory—rather it suggests the idea that the constitution of the sidereal universe is too complex to be at present ascertained. But it completely negatives (i), the stratum theory (even in the modified form apparently retained by Sir W. Herschel) ; (ii), the flat-ring theory of Sir John Herschel ; and (iii) the infinitely extended stratum theory, with condensation towards the mean plane, which Struve adopted.” (Page 547)
I think that for 1873 the verbose Mr. Proctor got his point across.
1. Hyginius Mythographus (fl. 1st century A.D.). Poeticon astronomicon. Edited by Jacobus Sentinus and Johannes Lucilius Santritter. Venice: Erhard Ratdolt, 14th October 1482. The first star atlas per se, standing alone in its field for a century.
2. Piccolomini, Alessandro. De la Sfera del Mondo. 1559
3. Galilei, Galilei Sidereus Nuncius (known in English as Starry Messenger), published 1610 The title page reads: Great and very wonderful spectacles, and offering them to the consideration of every one, but especially of philosophers and astronomers; which have been observed by Galileo Galilei … by the assistance of a perspective glass lately invented by him; namely, in the face of the moon, in innumerable fixed stars in the milky-way, in nebulous stars, but especially in four planets which revolve round Jupiter at different intervals and periods with a wonderful celerity.
4. Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, Paper, Abstracts and Reports of the Proceedings of the Society from Niovember 1872 to June 1873, vol XXXIII, London, printed by John Strangeways, 1873.
5. It seems that few people now remember Frederick William Herschel as a great discoverer of alternative existences, but, well, that's pretty much what he did--and he did it during a time that must've made his astronomical discoveries seem like science fiction .For example, in 1785 Herschel published a revolutionary image of the “Stellar System” (the Milky Way), showing its irregular pattern and the off-center placement of our sun amidst a panoply of other stars. (His image was remarkably and substantially correct, with the most grievous error being the placement of the sun too close to the center of the galaxy.) It was an image which bought the concept of a not so humano-centric idea into popular philosophy, and that our sun was a star among stars in a sea of stars.
I must say that I rarely see a question mark in scientific illustration--there may be an enumeration at some point with a footnoted question or question mark, but very rarely in the illustration itself. (I cannot recall ever seeing a question mark on a printed map, by the way, even though for centuries there were plenty of blank spaces that were filled in with wind roses or compass roses or text or a cartouche or a decorative border of some sort--that, and flora/fauna both real and imagined, would serve to take up the insulting white space of unknown geography. But not question marks. No?)
And so here it is next to the spectra of a meteor, appearing as the illustrated plate in Alexander Stewart Herschel's paper on meteoric spectra published in The Intellectual Observer for October, 1866. (A.S. Herschel [d. 1907] was part of the famous family of astronomers, with John his father and William his grandfather; he scoped out his own specialty in meteoric spectroscopy.)
And another detail from this beautiful illustration, this having nothing to do with question marks--it simply has a pre-modern non-representational art quality to it:
This lovely image of the head and envelopes of Coggia's Comet (C/1874 HI) as seen by Norman Lockyer on a summery night "under first-rate atmospheric conditions", July 12, 1874, and then drawn by him--and then published almost immediately in Nature on July 16, 1874, the magazine that Lockyer edited. This image is beautiful and significant for its "striking differences" from earlier cometary images
"Without doubt, C/1874 H1 (Coggia) was a beauty; a true great comet. At its brightest, it probably exceeded the first magnitude and displayed a series of envelopes within its coma that astronomers compared with Donati's Comet 16 years earlier. Suitably placed observers also noted maximum naked-eye tail lengths reaching 70 degrees as the comet passed near Earth in July." Seargent, David A. J. (2008). "C/1874 H1 (Coggia)". The greatest comets in history. p. 126. --Wiki, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C/1874_H1#cite_ref-6
This interesting graph of cosmic discovery (and re-discovery) is found in the open pages of Martin Harwitt's Cosmic Discovery, the Search, Scope, and Heritage of Astronomy, Basic Books, 1981 (page 14). It is an interesting advanced-introductory book which has a number of surprises, including this astro-discovery graph (below). There's another unusual display of historical data in an optical power of telescopes graph, which plots "Sensitivity improvement over the eye" of telescopes with astronomers and observatories over time, from Galileo to 1980 (and which is found on page 175). They're handy and useful and tell in a quickish glance some parts of the history of astronomy.
And so there came a time in 1923 and 1924 when it was determined that when the Earth next came into closest proximity with Mars (closest in opposition for a century) that efforts would be made to determine whether or not there was anyone around on that planet. The idea of the radio being a powerful-enough instrument to be used in such a way was initiated in 1896 by Tesla, and soon followed at the turn of the century with support for the idea by Marconi and Kelvin. (This interest was perhaps ignited after both Tesla and Marconi detected unexpected and steady signals that they thought were extraterrestrial but which were in fact ionospheric radiation--and of course there was Percival Lowell and his self-derived belief in Martian intelligence as described by the thought that there were canals on the surface of Mars.
This was a massive-idea effort: a U.S. government initiative demanded five minutes of radio silence per hour over a 36-hour period in the vast hope that transmitters closed down that if there were any radio signals being directed towards the Earth from Mars that they could be more easily detectable.
This was the magnificent "National Radio Silence Day". And it was extraordinary that i twas supposed to affect every radio in the country.
William F. Friedman, the Chief of the Code Section in the office of the Chief Signal Officer of the Army, was on the job and ready to decipher any messages that might need deciphering, which was some very hopeful thinking--not only was it hypothesized that there might be life but that it was also sufficiently advanced from some semi-primordial goo as to have a technology capable of interplanetary communication, and that a code expert might be able to read anything that came in.
Additionally that New York Timesarticle from 1921 described the proposals for the construction of a 60' (720") reflecting telescope--an absolutely enormous thing for the time, and for now, considering that the largest reflecting telescope yet built is 420" (Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC)), and that is a segmented scope, whereas this 720" mirror-monster would have been one big piece of glass.
But the country as a whole deserves a bit of credit for being so interested in the possibly of communicating with extraterrestrials thatit was willing to let a main source of information and entertainment be interrupted for science, and that so many people had a hand in this. It was possibly one of the largest public experiments in the history of experimentation in the United States, and was also one of the earliest SETI attempts to search for intelligent extraterrestrial life.
This is just a quick addition to a continuing series on antiquarian cosmological images (the two major posts, Visual Chronology of Cosmology, Part I and Part II) containing 80 images, mostly before the 19th century) and a long series on the History of Dots. The engraving below comes from the great intellectual explorer, Fr. Athansius Kircher, in his ultra-fabulous three-volume Oedipus Aegyptiacus (1652-4). And in here--as is the case with some other cosmological images--in between the sphere of the Sun and the sphere of the stars was the realm of the planets, and that is where Fr. Kircher's artist employed the use of dots, to differentiate the planetary real estate from everything else.
And the image in full view (both images reproduced from the Hachette reprint):
I uncovered a somewhat found-again-lost-again paper in the collection here, an unusual small-distribution version of a great paper in the history of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The work is by N.R. Schwartz and Charles Townes, "Interstellar and Interplanetary Communication by Optical Masers", which appeared in the journal Nature for April 15, 1961 (volume 190, pp 205-208), and I have seen it referenced here and there as a started-it-all sort of paper as the first applied and elaborated scientific effort "to communicate with other intelligent life [which] might exist on neighboring planetary systems". That is to say it is a more involved approach to detection than the two earlier and perhaps more-famous papers by G. Cocconi and P. Morrison, "Searching for interstellar communications" (a short paper published in Nature, volume 184, No. 4690, pp. 844-845, September 19,1959) and F. Drake's "How can we detect radio transmissions from distant planetary systems?", published in Sky and Telescope (volume 19, No. 3, pp. 140-143, January 1960).
The present copy is an offset, stapled affair sent to the editor of Physics Today; it has the annotation "Mr. Katcher" in a secretarial hand at top, that being David Katcher, the founding editor-in-chief. This is a pre-printed version, and is dated more than a month before the article's publication, and is dated February 27, 1961.
Both Schwartz and Townes were at the Institute for Defense Analysis in DC at the time of publication, Townes being the Director of Research; later in 1961 Townes would become Provost and professor of physics at MIT. In addition to the Nobel Prize in physics, Townes was awarded the Templeton Prize (in the understanding of religion and science).
The full text as it appears in six pages in Nature appears here at Coseti; it is obviously a different format from the 14-page variety that I have here, and has a few minor changes, though for all intents and purposes the text is the same.
The Cocconi/Morrison paper is located in full text here at Coseti.
Also just for the sake of it, the Drake equation (1961) for determining the number of extraterrestrial civilizations, here, again at Coseti.
I found this very interesting image in the early pages of T.E.R. Phillip's astronomical review and history, Hutchinson's Splendour of the Heavens, issued by the publishing house whose name is in the title, and printed in London in 1923. What we see here is a representation of light, or at least the corpuscular theory of light and the movement of the corpuscles. The theory is partially the work of the Christian atomist Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655) and Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), who argued that light was composed of infinitesimally small particles traveling at finite speeds and in a straight line in all directions.
The corpuscular theory preceded the wave theory which preceded the EM theory which preceded the quantum theory of light, and it is interesting to note that even though this work was published 18 years after the Einstein paper of 1905 and four years following the Eddington/Dyson et al eclipse confirmation of relativity after which Einstein became a mega-star, that there is scant mention of this paper in this book in spite of his 14 other mentions.'
Still, this is a pretty cool rendering of the "shape" and constituents of light.
Christian Huygens (1629-1695) worked across many fields, including astronomy, biology, math and physics, and was extraordinarily productive, making numerous contributions in the physical and theoretical areas, as well as being a prolific author and correspondent.
These images were published in his Systema Saturium..., published in the Hague in 16591, which was his fundamental work on the planet and in which he announces the discovery of its rings--this was a very considerable element, because the "arms" encompassing the planet had been a mystery to a generation of astronomers, from Galileo onward. The roman numerals relate the belief in the structure of the rings according to observer, so I was made by Galileo in 1610, II by Scheiner, 1614; III by Riccioli,1641-1643. IV-VII by Hevelius; VIII and IX by Riccioli, 1648-1650; X by Divini, 1646-1648. XI by Fontana in 1636; XII by Gassendi in 1646, and XIII by Fontana and others from 1644-1645. (This list identifying the rings of Saturn over time come from notes I had taken and misplaced, though the original I am sure comes from published work by Ronald Brashear, head of Special Collections at the Smithsonian.)
Here's Huygen's own beautiful and modern image of the planet, from his page 21 of his work above: