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
Josef Rodenstock (1846-1932) started his company, "G. Rodenstock" in 1879, manufacturing and selling mathematical, physical, and optical instruments--it survives to this day. This advertisement for the optics branch of the company appeared in the July 1, 1918 issue of Illustrirte Zeitung (Leipzig)--it is rather small in the original, but very effective; I couldn't pass it by without sharing.
This image really lifted itself from the page--it is from 1880 and has to me a very heavy scent of M.C. Escher to it. This would be a very "found" aspect of pre-Escher (1898-1972), but it does have an indefinable quality to it that seems very 20th-century. What we are seeing here is a perspective of the construction of the "New Church of the Oratory of South Kensington" (known as the Brompton Oratory), but I think given the various stages of completion of the structure the whole of it takes on a spherical, three-dimensional quality, and has a somewhat impossible-looking aspect, as though from multiple viewpoints. I think we're looking down through the naive, and though it is supposed to be representating a three-dimensional figure it seems profoundly not so.
[Source: The Building News, June 25, 1880; Herbert Gribble, architect.]
What it reminds me of directly is Eshcer's relativity, from 1952:
I know that what I've said about the Building News image is reaching, and it wasn't dealing with unusual geometries, or tessellations, or the oddish curved perspectives of Escher, but, well, it does somehow have that quality.
I've admired this image for quite some time, finding it in the Library of Congress' collection of the Historical Section of the Farm Security Administration (FSA) color photographs. It is anonymous, unfortunately, but since there were really only 23 or so staff photographers for this gigantic undertaking (including Esther Bubley, Marjory Collins, Mary Post Wolcott, Arthur Rothstein, Walker Evans, Russell Lee, Jack Delano, Gordon Parks, Charlotte Brooks, John Vachon, Carl Mydans, Dorothea Lange, and Ben Shahn, ten of which are truly monumental names in the history of 20th century American photography) I think that we could guess that it was done by the hands of a master. It seems as though less than 2% of the 163,000 or so photographs made by this section during its eight-year run (1937-1945) were made in color, and I'm glad that this was one of them.
This photo reminded me of a very detailed, three foot long locomotive schematic that I have in the studio. It is a wonderful thing, and I've included some images of it below, all of which are clickable and very expandable (and clearer). Here's the first detail:
[For info on the locomotive, see http://www.railarchive.net/alcopacifics/]
And the full locomotive, laterally, and large--I couldn't straighten it out without loss of text, so apologies for the miscue:
[This bedside nurse's aid appeared in the July 17, 1869 issue of the Scientific American.]
According to the article, "The inventor of this nursing table has endeavored to afford greater comfort to the sick by providing them with the means of supplying in a measure their own wants during the absence of an attendant. In large hospitals the want of something of this kind has been long felt and in many cases its use in private houses would be a great convenience..." Mostly it was a drinking-and-spit-bucket apparatus--still it would no doubt come in handy and loosen the duties of the nurse somewhat.
This work—according to scholars most probably by Johann II of Bavaria1—was published in 1531, the effort of a true Renaissance Man, capable in languages, a scholar, draftsman, scultptor, artist. The book was important in the history of art for introducing the perspective studies of Durer on a grand scale. And in all of this greatest and beauty of this book, I have chosen as my focus for this moment an odd little bit of the book--smoke.
In this woodcut we see the central figure on a horse working his way down a tight street of crowded buildings in a walled city, a city gate just ahead. The image was intended to illustrate principles of perspective, but I noticed the smoke and associated it/them with Renaissance (and later) word balloons--they're not really that closely associated, but are suggestive of one another.
There is a certain amount of poetical attraction to associate images in smoke and words, but I think that is going a little beyond the reasonable scope of analogy.
1. Johann II (1492 – 1557), and Count Palatine of Pfalz-Simmern from 1509-1557. And the book's title:
Eyn schön nützlich büchlin und underweisung der kunst des Messens, mit dem Zirkel, Richtscheidt oder Lineal. Zu nutz allen kunstliebhabern, fürnemlich den Malern, Bildhawern, Goldschmiden, Seidenstickern, Steynmetzen, Schreinern, auch allen andern, so sich der kunst des Messens (Perspectiva zu latein gnant) zugebrauchen lust haben.
Published by H. Rodler, Simmern, 1531
RODLER, Hieronymus ?] / JOHANN II OF PFALZ-SIMMERN
V.I. Feodosiev (with his two initials looking ironically similar to the V1 that he wrote about) and G.B. Simiarev wrote a classic textbook1 in rocket technology which was published in Moscow in 1958. Even though it was translated and published in English the following year by Academic Press, the version here seems to have been translated in the same year as its Russian edition. I've had some translations-on-demand in the store that were fast-tracked for the particular agency that needed the work, translations that sometimes didn't appear in English for years afterwards. In this case the Feodosiev was translated (anonymously) for an undisclosed agency, though this copy wound up in the library of the NASA Division of Research Information2. It could well be that the work was produced for NASA but frankly there are many other candidates for the point of origin of interest. This copy is definitely different from the Academic Press translation, so at least two different translations were made of the text.
I really don't have that much to offer here on this edition, except to note its differences from the Academic Press version, though this may be of some use to someone working in this area.
The original is available via the blog's bookstore, here.
Here's an abstract/summary of the work (which has a slightly different title) by the Academic Press 1959 version of this publication:
"Introduction to Rocket Technology focuses on the dynamics, technologies, aerodynamics, ballistics, theory of servomechanisms, principles of navigation instruments, and electronics involved in rocket technology."
"The publication first takes a look at the basic relationships in the theory of reactive motion; types of jet propelled aircraft and their basic construction; and types of reaction motors and their construction. Discussions focus on air breathing motors, anti-aircraft rockets, long range bombardment rockets, surface to surface, short range bombardment missiles, thrust of a rocket motor, and operating efficiency of a rocket motor. The text then examines rocket motor fuels and processes in the combustion chamber of a rocket motor."
I really don't have much to say about this image except that it is a very nicely designed thing, an advertisement for fountain pens produced by Germany's leading pen manufacturer (Soennecken, established 1875), This full-page/front-page illustration appeared in Illustrirte Zeitung for 13 April 1911.
The "fair" in this pamphlet, Ford at the Fair, was the Chicago World's Fair of 1932, and it was a souvenir for the visitor to the Ford Motor Company pavilion. Well, the building--pretty in profile, but odd/weird in plan--held other exhibitors whose business was related in support of Ford (Alcoa, Anaconda Copper, Bendix, etc.), and displayed in a singular turnaround the Cars as Consumable Products. (Remember that world's fairs such as this were still mostly displays of technology and industry and business, so you were more likely to see a Meat Pavilion or Heinz Products then than to see curious rides and historical whatnots in present incarnations.)
This unusual Bavarian trophy/hunt display of a couple of Fords in the middle of the floor plan--which says simply "hanging cars" on the map looked impressive and a little alien-esque:
And the map of the pavilion, which once you get over the possible Renaissance-like plan, and you pull back a little bit, it takes on a bit of a profile of a tank-like dragster:
In any event, this was a glorification process wrapped around a celebration of old-timey industrial celebration, presented in gleaming metallic greens and blues, and rubber, and gasoline, and oil, and hope.
Here's an interesting video showing the Ford pavilion at the fair, found at youtube.com:
[Detail of image below: "War Manufactures at Woolwich Arsenal: 700-lb Palliser Shells for the 38-ton Gun". Source: Scientific American Supplement, June 1879.]
I've written earlier on this blog on the Woolwich works ("Very, Very Heavy Metal--the Woolich Infant, 1876") that touches on some very heavy artillery, superior monsters all, with the "Infant" in question being an 80-ton gun. That came to mind seeing this big full-page engraving in Scientific American of Woolwich in 1879 and this stationary parade of potential of death and destruction (and we're glad to have them on our side) 700-lb shells. That's Sir William Palliser shells, which were manufactured as armor-piercing, and intended to do major damage to armor-plated warships--hyper-damage, actually, considering the 410-pounder in this variety was very highly effective. This shell was just an absolute brute.
This is a detail from:
[Apologies for the waviness--the book is very large and getting it to lay flat was not really a consideration.]
Inventors had been experimenting with the electric light for decades before Thomas Edison patented his ever since it in the same year that this engraving appeared (1879). Ever since is became possible to believe in the practicality of the power source of electricity (rather than the very problematic gas) with the demonstrate of Humphrey Davy's electric arc lamp in 1809, people like Lindsay (1835) and Geisler (1856) and Becquerel (1867) and Woodward (1875) and many others tried to perfect the form of electrical lighting. Edison of course came up with the best idea, and the rest is history (and adjudication).
It is really no that long ago--in my great-great grandfather's time--that the possibility of the expansion of lighting by electricity was new and very exciting (as well as the delivery of electricity for other stuff, but that is another story). It is also a time of tremendous achievement in delivering the power, which really only extends backwards to 1820 with Oersted (and his electromagnetic motor, and the thought of seeing a land locomotive for providing portable electricity must have been an enormous intellectual treat. And here it is:
[Source: Scientific American, Supplement, June 7, 1879; apologies for the uneven lighting, but the book was big and thick and making the surface flat was out of the question.]
As stated in the short article, this is a "very convenient arrangement" for delivering lighting remotely ("to contractors"), and was produced by Gainborough's Marhsall, Sons & Co. for the electrical engineering firm of Crompton & Fawkes of London. The dynamo-electric machines are on the small two-wheeled carriage and is connected to the steam-powered source on the four-wheeled carriage; it was a 6hp engine that could produce 6,000 candle power illumination. To the right of the electric engines are spools with 300 yards of cable which would connect everything to the electric lamps--evidently from arrival to light would take one hour. For the time this was a magical thing.
If I was an alien (of the outer-space variety) looking at the United States, I’d find it difficult not to assume that the biological units scurrying around the place were not put there to service the automobile. Cars get born, then put on display, then selected and driven to their new home. They get washed, and fed, and sometimes have their own places to sleep at night in their very own structure with their caretakers housed nearby. They get taken out for airs in the morning and evening, resting while the humans labor all day to make enough money for their care and maintenance and feeding. In the evening, they get brought back home and allowed to rest further. They respond directly to inputs only and give no unsolicited response: sort of like cats. Fantastically large allowances are made for cars, humans going so far as to remove life- and atmospheric-sustaining biological units such as trees and good dirt so that the car can be taken virtually anywhere in the country on a path made specifically for them. These pathways, which are padded and smooth, have ancillary bits attached to them so that the humans may walk beside them—houses and such are all connected to these paths to more easily enable the people to have access and maintain the car. And, at the end of the day, humans breathe in the very excrement and excretia produced by the cars. Placed under a microscope, the whole thing might resemble a biological unit, the cars being its very blood, everything else present to contain and move it.
These images from the Illustriete Zeitung (Leipzig, issue 4484, pp 239-240) for November 1930 speak to the exact issue of how to care for the now ever-present automobile. Entitled “Wie Bringe Ich Meinen Kraftwagen Unter?”, the short article (by the engineer Botho von Romer of Munchen) addresses the need of what to do with cars at bedtime—where do we put them? One answer was this spectacular carpark (“Garagenhof”) high rise—seventeen floors of parking (with two more underground), serviced by a variety of elevators, pointing out that varieties of this structure already existed in Chicago and New York
There was also the possibility of vast masses of sunken garages, their entrance way screwed into the earth leading to tunnels and networked warehouses where the cars could be safely deposited and removed from city streets. There were also these two versions of the simple above-ground garages and parking lots: the apartment block gives over the entire interior area to individual parking and garages (doing away with any greenspace), while the massive semi-cloverleaf design is made for nothing else in mind than to park the cars in the four semi-centers.
By 1930 the production of the automobile had been revolutionized to such an extent that virtually anyone with a job and less than five kids could actually afford a car. It is interesting to note that at the average price of say 30 cents a gallon for gasoline (in the U.S.A.) that folks 80 years ago were paying pretty more per gallon (adjusted via CPI, roughtly $4.25 iva the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator) than we are paying now at $2.75/gallon (in my mountain city at the far end of the pipeline).
Well, I really don't have much to say about this ad except that I like the design and that it is not typical featuring nothing but women drivers in tanktops behind the wheel of the car you're trying to sell.. It looks as though there are 20 cars in a row here, stretching back like 120' or so from the camera. The women are at the wheel of one of Brennabor's four cylinder, 70 horsepower sports-ish vehicles, capable of seating two (not-big) people.
This is a not-frequently-seen schematic of the Royal Air Force's Sunderland, a flying boat, and the largest airplane in British service, pictured and slightly dissected in Popular Mechanics in 1940. (Apologies for the blurry definition on the left side--the book is huge, and not very friendly to the scanner.)
One of my favorite popular technical illustrators of the 20th century was G.H. Davis (1881-1963), who worked enormous accomplishments for the Illustrated London News for some forty years. His specialty seemed to be the cut-away schematic, showing half-exposed/half-not technical schematics on mostly oblique angles. The example below is a fine one, showing the (not-named) British 1925 tank, which I believe must be the Vickers Medium I or variation thereof. It was certainly an improvement over the tanks used in WWI, and for all intents and purposes it seems a "modern" tank.
This is an image of a philosopher's cabinet, engraving (on copper?) by "I. Friedlein fec", who was Johnann Friedlein, an emigree from North Germany to Denmark, and who worked ca. 1680-1705. It shows the tools of the trade for someone working in natural philosophy (the name "scientist" would not come into use for another 130+ years or so1) and is an interesting insight into a small, polite gentleman's club for experiment and investigation.
The men surround a decent collection of scientific instruments--I can locate a compass, dividers, oil lamp, magnifying glass, microscope2 (at the right elbow of the figure on the right), terrestrial and celestial globes, a (large) clock, barometer, and various weights and scales, and behind it all looms a rather large refracting telescope3 (is it five inches?)
For all of these expensive and current instruments, the lighting these gentlemen set up for themselves is pretty poor, though of course it does add to the mystery and dark experience of the image.
Here's another example of Friedlein's work, a frontispiece to Cryptographia, oder geheime Schrifften by Johann Balthasar Friderici, printed in 1685:
Nyt dansk kunstnerlexikon: bd. Indenlandske kunstnere (fortsættelse ...)by Philip Weilbach:
1. "Scientist", in the Oxford English Dictionary ("science" is a much older word in English):
1. A person who conducts scientific research or investigation; an expert in or student of science, esp. one or more of the natural or physical sciences.computer, earth, mad, natural, rocket scientist, etc.: see the first element.
It is possible that the ‘ingenious gentleman’ referred to in quot. 1834 is Whewell himself.
1834 W. Whewell in Q. Rev.51 59 Science..loses all traces of unity. A curious illustration of this result may be observed in the want of any name by which we can designate the students of the knowledge of the material world collectively. We are informed that this difficulty was felt very oppressively by the members of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, at their meetings..in the last three summers... Philosophers was felt to be too wide and too lofty a term,..; savans was rather assuming,..; some ingenious gentleman proposed that, by analogy with artist, they might form scientist, and added that there could be no scruple in making free with this termination when we have such words as sciolist, economist, and atheist—but this was not generally palatable.
1840 W. Whewell Philos. Inductive Sci. I. Introd. p. cxiii, We need very much a name to describe a cultivator of science in general. I should incline to call him a Scientist. Thus we might say, that as an Artist is a Musician, Painter, or Poet, a Scientist is a Mathematician, Physicist, or Naturalist.
2. "Microscope" (as a noun) in its earliest uses in English, in the OED:
1648 Bp. J. Wilkins Math. Magick i. xvi. 115 We see what strange discoveries of extream minute bodies, (as lice, wheal-worms, mites, and the like) are made by the Microscope, wherein their severall parts (which are altogether invisible to the bare eye) will distinctly appear.
1651 N. Highmore Hist. Generation viii. 70 The white circle..by a Microscope appears now to be the Carina or back and neck of the Chick.
3. "Telescope" (as a noun) in its earliest uses in English, in the OED:
[1619 J. Bainbridge Astron. Descr. Late Comet 19 For the more perspicuous distinction whereof I vsed the Telescopium or Trunke-spectacle.]
1648 R. Boyle Seraphic Love (1663) xi. 59 Galileo's optick Glasses,..one of which Telescopioes, that I remember I saw at Florence.