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
This lovely pamphlet has a design that seems to me deeper into the modern future than it was--it seems a product more of the 1930's and perhaps into the 1930's than the 1909 item that it is. The pamphlet was on a proposed gyro-monorail, a project funded by publisher August Sherl (1849-1921), who had the idea for constructing separate high speed (200 kph) rapid transit lines while maintaining existing rail for shipping. But as sleek and as stable as it may/might be, the gyro-monorail is one idea that never really got past prototypes and development, as was the case with Sherl's project, which did actually get to a full-size prototype which was demonstrated in Berlin, but the idea did not flourish, and the project was cancelled.
This yellow is similar to the cover of Dr. Seuss' One Fish, Two Fish..., the color yellow symbolizing courage/nobility in Japan, wisdom in Islam, and a deity-color in Hinduism; the color so fond of many great writers like London and Doyle, and Harte and Stevenson that they employed in in titles of the books. The favorite color of Van Gogh1, and perhaps not-so-favorite of Shakespeare (appearing in references to bile and melancholy and falling leaves), it is usually a positive color--except that it also can signify cowardice, ego, caution, and illness (malaria, jaundice).
And so, yellow. The yellow here is a color of soil, and a beautiful yellow it is, the chart a piece of found-art in itself, a found-Abstraction. It actually was published in the Atlas of American Agriculture, lithographed by A. Hoen, and published in 1936--a particularly bad year for U.S. western soils.
And a detail:
1. The Van Gogh museum's "Van Gogh Letters" is a must-visit if you are interested in his correspondence. http://vangoghletters.org/vg/ Actually the word "green" pops up about 15% more often than "yellow" as the most often mentioned color in the correspondence, though I think that the scholars say that his favorite color hands-down was yellow.
"Keep then the sea which is the wall of England, and then is England kept in Gode's Hand, so that fore anything that is without, England were at peace withouten doubt."
This fantastic three-foot-long panorama was published as a folding centerfold for the Illustrated London News Supplement of May 30, 1942. By the middle of 1942 I think it was pretty clear that Germany could not hope to compete with the U.K. in the production of ships, and especially in the area of submarines, where the Luftwaffe demanded and received the lion's share of resources necessary for construction.The Battle of the Atlantic was being won, the blockade was working and intact, and the U.S. had entered the war militarily. No doubt it was a good thing for the reader's of this popular magazine to be reminded of their stellar naval history at this point of the war. There are 45 ships and boats on this panorama, ranging from the times of Alfred the Great to the King George V.
In my experience popular images prior to WWII that put the reader inside of the picture-- giving them the same view as the observing, principle member of the picture--are very uncommon. Honestly, they just don’t happen very often, and I wish that I had paid more attention to them over the years before I realized they were as rare as they were. Such is the case with this extraordinary and action-packed picture in which the reader is hosted just behind and slightly above the head of the pilot of the aircraft dive-bombing the battleship. It appears in The Illustrated London News for 7 November 1935, and it must have been captivating for the readers, being given the sense of closing in at great speed on the ship. There are actually eight other smaller perspective images embedded in the image as well. The largest of these (at top) places the viewer directly inside the subject, giving them the feeling of how it looks like to the bombing officer of the aircraft as it approached the fleet. The other five images shows what the battleship looks like from different height from the inside of the aircraft. Perhaps this doesn’t look like much to us today, but at the time, I can assure you, these images were exceptionally uncommon offerings of a personal perspective that few readers had ever experienced.
I found this ad on the back page of the last issue of the Scientific American before that of December 29, 1877, which carries the announcement and description of the invention by Thomas Edison of the groundbreaking "talking phonograph". In any event, the saw image is beautiful:
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.