A Daily History of Holes, Dots, Lines, Science, History, Math, the Unintentional Absurd & Nothing |1.6 million words, 7500 images, 4 million hits| Press & appearances in The Times, Le Figaro, MENSA, The Economist, The Guardian, Discovery News, Slate, Le Monde, Sci American Blogs, Le Point, and many other places... 4,200+ total posts
I couldn't resist a simple post of this image of solo-velodrome--a curious bit for one rider held by one person. The "held" part is certainly unusual and very ambitious, the thing being designed for high amusement--it appeared as part of a show at the Dresden Victoria Salon, and was published in the August 8, 1903 issue of Scientific American.
While browsing a volume of the Scientific American (Scientific American Supplement #1453, November 7, 1903) I came across a picture of the Columbarium of the Villa Codini, Licinian Gardens, Rome, and then within a minute I came upon a similar scene just dozens of pages away--a striking likeness, though this time the sculpted openings were for the living. It showed a lecture being delivered to inmates of a criminal sanatorium, hearing about the evils of alcohol, each prisoner stored away in his own little box. "Columbarium" comes from the Latin word ("columba") for "dove-cote", and it is easy to see the similarity between the sepulchral images.
There is another image that I've saved but which has no reference for origin. It depicts prisoners in a European institution attending a Sunday service:
SO--this is either a very large tricycle with average-sized crew, or an average-sized trike operated by tiny people. Since it appeared in the November 11, 1896 issue of Scientific American--which had a very very slight leverage on humor--I report here that this was indeed a very large tricycle. As a matter of fact it required a crew of eight to operate, and weighed in at about 1500 pounds. It was actually constructed, as this crew peddled it around the Boston area for a 125-mile jaunt. Why this was done--other for the sake of doing it--I do not know. It seems someone just made a Big Thing, coming (as the short description in the issue says) "in this age of 'big things' ".
Today I joked with a neighbor that my car was so old that it has wooden seat belts. At least it has seat belts, no thanks to the early (pre-1989) efforts of people like Lee Ioccoca to prevent having them automatically installed, and unlike the Flintstones and Jimmy Rockford and others who had no seat belts at all--it is more like Granny's rope-belt in the Beverly Hillbillies. Be that as it may, this bicycle is a much better creation than my seat belts. The image appeared in the Scientific American for February 1, 1896, a half tongue-in-check proposal at a time of a great bicycle craze. Even though millions of bicycles were being made, a decent one could cost you $25, which would (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator) would be about $750-$1000 today--not nothing. So this Modest Proposal on making a bike from bits, found wood, and a quarter.
This post is a part of overlapping categories, including:
Duplicate Earths (including Mondo Bizarro, Science Afflictions and the Dubious Mind—Bad Science, Part 1. NYC in Space (?!) here and Extra-Earth Humano-Alien Souls From Outer Space Repopulate Earth-Hell!!(??)here)
And before we get to Mystery in Space I wanted to make an uncommon addition to the "Duplicate Earth" category--I really don't find "Extra Earths" too often and so I feel a certain obligation in reporting them. And so, the Extra Earth of Fletcher Hanks' cover for his very uncommon superhero creation, Stardust:
I don't know if this is an actual Extra Earth that makes an appearance in a Stardust episode, or if it is just a repeated element of design--from what I have seen from Hanks, it could easily be either.
And now on the the rest:
In the eight years or so of collecting information and stories for the odd-bits section of this blog I have never encountered so many choice visual examples in one place for strange/weirdly-imagined/impossible/high-SciFi of the Earth than with the comic book, Mystery in Space. The very dedicated keepers of Coverbrowse.com website have reproduced thousands (?) of covers of pulpily-published science fiction and exotic-thinking comics books, including the home base in which all sixteen-plus years of Mystery in Space live.
Such is the nature of the small but desperate urgencies that they come at large and ultra-desperate times, actions required of impossible and uneven urgence, responses vaulted into the black hole of needless authority. Or some such. That is the way some of these images looked to me, removed from their context, taking away their stories and supplying one's own. Urgently.
This post is related in a way to this blog's series on using a "paper microscope" to find semi-hidden human geographies in old prints--where there are scenes of low drama taking place in the tiny incidental detail of some architectural rendering of some sort. In this case, though, the story is the main image, though the original story has simply been removed. So, our urgencies (top to bottom): the expression of urgent staying-in-bed, despite entreaties and an advancing army; urgent sleeping to ward off an advancing lion, horse, and highwaymen; terrifically urgent sitting, even when being upended and beaten with sticks to make the sitting stop; and, finally, urgent suicide (with backup sword at the ready) to evade capture of an advancing army. The end.
Image source: Theatre Historique (I believe), Amsterdam, ca. 1700-1710, published by Pieter van der Aa.
In the history of baseball gloves--better still, in the history of the catcher's mitt--there are few ideas that are as singular as the glove/mitt that isn't a glove, or a mitt. This was the patent report of the invention of J.E. Bennett in 1904, which proposed to replace the mitt with a cage. The cage offered a receiving area easily double the size of a catcher's mitt, with padding at the back of the cage to cushion the capture of the pitched ball, after which the ball would somehow be collected and deposited via that pipe. I'm not sure what the catcher would do with pitched balls that were low, or high, but the cage certainly did not have any real versatility, particularly when comparing it to a real glove. It seems as though this idea didn't go far, and that was a good thing.
[Source: Google Patents, https://www.google.com/patents/US269766?dq=patent:269766&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiyw_r6277JAhUGSiYKHV_eCdkQ6wEILDAC]
Well, there's not much that one can say about this that the reader is not already thinking.
The idea was that of J.E. Bennett of Fredonia, Texas, who patented the "trap" in 1882. He reports that this apparatus has been used before, as a house "alarm". He states in the patent that "I am aware that burglar-alarms of various kinds have been used, and which have been connected to windows and doors in such a manner that the opening of the window or door causes a pressure upon a lever which discharges a tire-arm; but in no case have the parts been arranged and combined as here shown and described." Indeed. I think that this sort of "alarm" was declared illegal decades ago because its use employed depraved indifference. Poor little critter.
Just a collection of hands on the covers of books and pamphlets. I guess it is sort of interesting that the hands that started this small collection in the first three examples are two fists and a gloved half-fist snuffing out a lamp; the fourth example is a power thumb, and the the rest of the examples I came up with were almost entirely open-handed. I'm sure that there must be plenty of fist images on book covers out there, but in my brief soiree I only found a few.
At first (and second) glance this image comes very close to looking like a display of Rene Descartes' illustrated cosmology (featuring his vortices ("tourbillons")). The images are indeed similar--first, the mystery image, followed by one of the Cartesian tourbillons (from Principes de la Philosophie from 1644):
[Primary image, detail.]
And the image from Descartes:
[Primary image, receding.]
Is the primary image another incidence of the Cartesian cosmology as we see in the original and in other places, like in Nicholas Bion (in 1710)?
The primary image in question is actually a plowed-over landing strip, the place done in by German sappers sometime in 1944, to render the airfield useless once the Germans pulled back. In any event the image struck me as being similar in design to Descartes, though for the Germans it represented more a catastrophic collapse more than anything else.
These are two full-cover pamphlets that promise a compelling amount for the ten-cent admission fee. The first is newer, published for ten cents in 1932; the second was printed in 1908, and for the same amount (and worth about 14 cents in 1908 monies, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator). They are each Outsidery-flavored efforts in their fields, so far as I can tell--they are also not quite interesting enough to spend any time with outside of remarking on their remark-able covers, which is sometimes that is all you need. (The second pamphlet is actually by a very well known and influential theological person, Edward Hine, who may have achieved his greatest fame I try to establish that England is Israel, among other things, and developed a considerable following.)
I have other remarkable books with title similar to these in length, and composition--I'll need to pull them all together, someday. I think that the most glorious days of enormous titles are hundreds of years in the past, and mostly 17th century from my perspective; these more-modern examples are not only long, but they are challenging and promising, all at the same time.
This is one of those fascinating bits that you come across that in the moment are just thrilling, but overall really doesn't have anywhere particular to live in your memory. Still, it was curious to find this data on the positions and pay to the members of the U.S. Navy in 1820 and to see the amount and distribution of pay, and to see the aggregates.
The pay ranges (for example) from $100/month for (52) Captains, $50/month for ( 52) surgeons, $40/month for (10) chaplains, $20/month for (21) sailmakers, $18/month for (24) cooks, $12/month for (1388) able seamen, $10/month for 1370 ordinary seamen, and $7/month for (278) boys.
[Source: can't remember. This is a detail from a loose, folding sheet from a U.S. government document from 1820, probably looking at the finances of armed forces, or some such.]
So it looks as though the total pay for U.S. naval personnel in 1820 (excluding "rations", which I believe included food and housing allotments) was $867, 578.00 (or pretty close to that) for 4,550 sailors/etc., which is about $200 per year per person, on average. 41% of that total outlay went to the 3,158 able and ordinary seamen, who composed 71% of the total naval force. So it looks like if your removed the pay for "boys" then the highest paid officer made about ten times what the lowest paid seaman made, which by today's standards is pretty corporate-responsible (a la Ben & Jerry's).
I'm not yet finding what a carpenter/laborer would make in salary for that year for comparison, but I will add that here later.
This title, drawn from the identifier of an illustration from Scientific American (for September 13, 1890), I think would be a great way of teaching sci/tech principles, using stuff from your desk or hallway etc to illustrate the scientific method and to see how "science" can be found in Real Life. Of course this was from an era in which books like Ganot's Physics would instruct not only on the principles of a pump but how to fix it as well--and also how to make the hardware like the nuts and bolts that you needed for the fix-up, and so on. In general Scientific American was great for this sort of thing--these were the additional bits to the scientific news and drama of the week, the recipes on how to make the blackest ink and other such potentially useful recipes.
I've included this illustration because of the <sigh> requirements necessary to see what has been lost in scientific education at the elementary levels, and also due to its high/found artistic qualities. It also looks like a puzzle, but isn't.
I was quite taken with the sign behind the preacher in this picture. The photograph decorated the front page of the Illustrated London News, December 17, 1910, and showed the healing/clairvoyant "Antoine the Healer", with a definite Rasputin-ish look to him. His deal was "fluid influence" in the good and evil fluid influence of magnetism, of reckoning the good/bad magnetism between people, and of course communicating with the good fluids in people. Or something like that--I have no idea what he was talking about with the fluid/magnetism stuff. In any event he collected 160,000 signatures of the faithful and whomever to present to the government of Belgian the case for Antoine and his fluids and Antoinettes as a recognized religion.
"Antoine's followers obey him unhesitatingly in everything. In appearance he is a tall, rather round-shouldered man, with grey hair; he wears a black frock coat, but is always without a hat. He chews gum continually."--The World's News, January 14, 1911, pg 13. [Source: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/128264839]
In any event it was the enormous sign behind Antoine that attracted my attention--the fluid magnetism stuff is not so interesting, or attractive.