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There is a wonderful, short paper by Lord Rayleigh in the August 21, 1873 issue of Nature on echoes, "Harmonic Echoes", echoes which have a life of their own, seemingly, after their initiation....echoes with 5 or 10 or more reverberations, echoes which seem to advance, or recede or both.
The mythological, beautiful nymph, Echo, a creature of Greek invention--or discovery--was much in love with her own voice and thus some of this interest in repetitive reverberations. Echo was interested in Narcissus, which means that between the two of them, there was more more than enough interest in them for anyone outside themselves, but neither could get enough of themselves. And with Echo there were others who couldn't get enough of her, though she denied herself to everyone. And so the tragedy. Pan wants her, the old lech, and is denied, and becomes enraged which leads to her tragedy of being torn to pieces. She is resurrected, a little bit, her voice surviving everything else, repeating the last words of others.
I've repeated below a story on the Rayleigh paper which in some respects is as interesting as the original.
JF Ptak Science Books (Expanding an earlier post from 2013, but different enough to get its own Post # 2297)
Thinking about the depth of space and visually explaining it are two different things--vast numbers and the deepest depths, all colliding with the imagination, which really has a hard time keeping up with it all.
This beautiful engraving appeared in Amedee Guillemin's Le Ciel: notions d'astronomie a l'usage des gens du monde et de la jeunesse, which was published by Librairie de L. Hachette and Company, and printed in 1865 (the images from which are available here). Guillemin (1826-1893) was a social/culture writer who became a very respected science journalist/writer, becoming very popular with works in physics, technology, astronomy and general science, many lavishly illustrated.
There are many striking images in this book, The Sky/the Heavens..., but I've chosen this one because it has a certain deep depth to it, and relays a complexity and distinctness to something that is generally imaged as being less so, being a massive star cluster and all. Unlike many of his other books, the great illustrations here are the small text images, some only 25% of the page, and in most cases rendered sparingly, and with a real feel of "difference" to them (at least so to me).
The "Amas du Toucan", known now more familiarly as 47 Toucanae or 47 Tuc (NGC 104), is a bright element in the southern sky, a huge cluster 120 light years wide and 16,700 light years from Earth, visible to the naked eye in the constellation Toucan (created by Petrus Plancius in 1598 or so). And here it is, in a little 9x8 cm engraving with hundreds of white points as stars, made after an engraving of Sir William Herschel (1738-1822, a German-born English astronomer who--with his sister Caroline and brother John--spent decades observing and recording stars, double stars, clusters and nebulae).
47 Tuc was first catalogued as not-a-star by Abbe Nicolas Louis de Lacaille (1713-1762), a French astronomer who found it too be too fuzzy to be a single star, and who produced a 10,000 (Southern) star catalog, Coelum Australe Stelliferum, which was published in 1762, and which also introduced 14 new constellations. 47 Tuc made another quick appearance in the great Catalogue des Nébuleuses et des Amas d'Étoiles ("Catalogue of Nebulae and Star Clusters"), a superb and meticulous work by Charles Messier, and published in 1771.
But distances and depths such as we know them now were not-conceivable at this point for Guillemin--and really would be for another 60 years or so. At this point, and for some time to come, the Milky Way was considered to be the entirety of the universe. The business of galaxies being outside of the Milky Way is a relatively recent development, determined so by Harlow Shapley in 1924, expanding the size of the universe ten-fold to 300,000 light years; this was blown up a quite a bit by Edwin Hubble in '24 to 900,000 light years, and then five years later in one of his most famous papers Hubble blew the figure up a lot, expanding the universe to 280 million light years. Walter Baade and others added to the figure in the 1950's (4 billion light years or so), and during the 1960's-1990's the figure expanded to 25-30 billion light years, finding its way to 94 billion light years in 2006.
I would imagine that the concept of galaxies outside of our own, and that the universe was vastly larger than we thought, and that the potential for there being new/unforeseen discoveries was great, that in 1924/1929 it may have seemed somewhat like Galileo suddenly seeing an order of magnitude more stars than had ever been seen before by the naked eye...that the sky which had basically been unchanged in appearance to humans for thousands of years really wasn't what people thought it was. Perhaps it was like the Two Dimensional beings in Flatland trying to comprehend the first appearance of a Three Dimensional entity. Or of course the realization could have been like when Sandy Cheeks came to the shocking epiphany in an episode of the Immortal Sponge Bob Square Pants that the titanic battle she had been waging and ostensibly won with an Alaskan Bull Worm was just her fighting with the tip of the beast's tongue--oh. Oh my. Something along those orders. Deep depth.
The Guillemin work is simply a lovely and elegant thing--one of many accomplishments in a beautiful and relatively simple book.
The history of RADAR (RAdio Deection And Ranging, and something I've always written in caps) is absolutely not what I'm thinking about now--that is a long story with lots of twists and turns, complicated, complex--and it ranges depending upon location as for the most part RADAR (from the 1930's anyway) was developed in secret, kept as a military secret. And that's because it was a very important development, with the victor of the Battle of the Beams being the possible victor, period.
The image is a detail from the pamphlet below (the covers printed in what looks like U.S.N. blue), made aboard a B-17 at 15,000 feet, and is one of the earliest popular treatments of the vital story of RADAR during WWII.
The pamphlet was printed by PHILCO Corporation, (and dated January 4, 1946), and has an inserted leaflet stating that this "makes public for the first time the salient facts about the Corporation's development and production of airborne radar equipment for the United States Army and Navy".
The image also comes a little too-close-to-home, reminding me of the Eugen Sanger transcontinental bomber, and the image of NYC in the crosshair, 1943:
August Hofmann (a German organic chemist of high calibre, 1818-1892) made this presentation1 to the Royal Institution in 1865, and it is one in which hand-made three-dimensional models of molecules2 are used for one of the first times for public demonstration. (He actually made parts of it in different lectures, that is, but I have not yet been able to compare the two.) The models aren't quite three-dimensional, as Hofmann arranged them so that they would have at least 3-D molecules though their arrangement in space was veyry much liek they would appear on a piece of paper. (This might be a bit off, and the molecules were all the same size, but the colors he employed to represent molecules are still being used: black/carbon, yellow/sulphur, white/hydrogen, blue/nitrogen, red/oxygen, green/chlorine.
1. HOFMANN, August Wilhelm. “On the Combining Power of Atoms”, in three parts, all in The Chemical News, October 5, 1865, pp 166-169; October 13, 1865, pp 175-179; and in October 20, 1865, pp 187-190.
2. The idea of molecules goes back 2000 years, to Empedocles, Leucippus, Democritus, and Epicurus. It should be noted I guess that the modern idea of the world (mostly?) owes itself to an 1873 article in Nature by James Clerk Maxwell. He titled the paper, well, "Molecules", and this is how he defined his terms: "An atom is a body which cannot be cut in two; a molecule is the smallest possible portion of a particular substance."
This is a short and stubby flare sent up 200 feet into the dark, a little missile celebrating the card catalog. I remember being so heartbroken seeing the individual drawers of the Library of Congress card file up int he stacks, way back in the day when they'd still give you orange stacks passes if you could present an admirable-enough case for needing access all on your own--I imagine that the file drawers were stored away near the Qs which is what I usually wanted to see. Anyway there they were, hundreds of them no doubt, hundreds and hundreds. They were there because the cards had been photocopied, or something, and the entire rig on the reading room floor replaced, opened for more space. I don't recall the disposition of them for certain but I do believe they didn't last very long, sent to the great card catalog in the sky where the manuscript entries on the backs of the cards, notes made by librarians and scholars over the years, are housed in a secret tower of lost information, because as we know it was only the fronts of those cards that were copied.
Here is what the "flare" is about, a lonely hand-written catalog card for a surplus(ed)/duplicate pamphlet from the Library of Congress. The work is byRichard S. McCulloch, and called Memorial to the Congress of the United States Requesting an Investigation and Legislation in Relation to the New Method for Refining Gold (printed by John T. Robinson in Princeton, N.J., in 1851).
There is another slip of old paper in the pamphlet with a tiny annotation, "McCulloch/not in L.C." It was, for 100+ years, but not any more.
I purchased this along with dozens of thousands of other pamphlets (in a collection called, yes, The Pamphlet Collection) years ago when the library determined that the material was not needed. I was very happy to need them, and I'm still going through the process of finding other needy recruits for them.
But it is that card that makes me like a border person of some sort, of having used the old-time systems and then benefited greatly from the new and replacement systems. For example doing searches in what is a very useful tool for me--the WorldCat database--for finding holdings of libraries for a particular title is now an instantaneous thing, whereas in the not-so-misty past (in terms of human years) this search would have involved going through several iterations of the multi-hundred-volume National Union Catalog. The time I've saved looking up bibliographic references and using online reference tools probably has given me several lifetimes of look-up compared to the 1979 me.
Still and all, I think I'd like to see the card catalog.
This is an image of a philosopher's cabinet, an engraving (on copper?) by "I. Friedlein fec", who was actually 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 150+ years or so) 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, compass, microscope (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 fairly large refracting telescope (is it 6 six inches?) which also has mounted alongside of it a smaller sighting telescope.
Nyt dansk kunstnerlexikon: bd. Indenlandske kunstnere (fortsættelse ...)by Philip Weilbach:
I found this interesting and lovely display of empirical data, and I like it quite a bit, even though it really isn't a good example of a graphical display of information. The chart was intended to show the differences in the profiles of British destroyers, and not much more. The image appeared in The Illustrated London News, April 23, 1949.
And the text:
Then there's this (below) a good graphical representation of the size of fleet strengths, steam and sail, appearing in The Illustrated London News for January 28, 1911, just a few years before the start of WWI:
"There are no news-cameras clicking where the underground war wages. It is a war of iron nerves against an iron machine, of indomitable men and women defying the Nazi monster, of sudden swift strokes out of the dark, of blows that fall where least expected, hampering, slowing, wrecking the Nazi war machine..."
Underground War in the West has one of he most dyunamic covers I've seen in quite some time--not to say that there are absolute "best" designs, but it is certainly a top-tier design, a fine effort, grabbing the attention of even a casual browser, and suggesting action, even without a read.
This pamphlet really seemed like a tiger in a cage—looking through some of the collection here relating to WWII literature on activities in occupied countries, the startling cover graphic of Underground War in the West (printed at some time in 1943, and not before or after) really rattled its cage. Its contents were non-too tame, either—while being reasonably polite (as was the fashion) it still invoked some very difficult ideas and images.
This was a terrific, mass appeal pamphlet on the underground actions of occupied Europe illustrated with pencil and charcoal drawings by Cuneo, with each page depicting a resistance activity—including the underground press, medical aid, sabotage, and general murderous nuisance-making and in general pamphlet praises and celebrates the heroism in occupied countries such as Czechoslovakia (with a drawing showing the assassination of Heydrich), Holland (showing the Dutch caring for a wounded RAF pilot), Belgium, France, Greece. Norway, Poland, Yugoslavia and Luxembourg.
There are full-page drawings relating to the strength of occupied people in the face of "Mass Deportation (cannot dishearten them, thousands and thousands of families have been torn asunder in mass deportations...") and "Firing Squads…thin the patriot ranks yet ever more step into their places" . The section on "Facts from the Occupied Countries" list activities in 9 occupied countries; under “Poland”, we read that "Germany has drawn a veil of silence around Poland...it is estimated that 2,500,000 Poles have died in concentration camps or by execution up to December 31, 1942. There are 54 concentration camps in Poland...and the average life span in the camps is nine months..." Nowhere in the pamphlet however is there any singular mention of deportation or murder of the Jewish people—there were hundreds of articles printed in American newspapers up until this time on the beginning of the (yet named) Holocaust, though acknowledgment of a fact doesn’t necessarily make it widely known in spite of its incredible and massive significance. This pamphlet, while extraordinary in mentioning the millions of deaths in the concentration camps and “deportations”, was rather ordinary in its coverage of who it was that was being murdered in the camps.
There is also a two-page spread exhibiting examples of underground newspapers:
Only six copies are located in libraries around the world, and those are pretty high-calibre institutions: Hoover Institute on War, Holocaust Library, Harvard University Law Library, London Metropolitan, National Library of Scotland, Oxford University.
If you haven't thought of this statement before, if you haven't tried to visualize all of the Earth's sources of water all drawn out and up and somehow gathered into a Superman-controlled sphere of no structure, then this image would be very surprising--it was to me.
The image comes from the United States Geological Survey website1, and shows three spheres on an Earth emptied of its oceans and lakes and rivers and ponds and creeks and everything, all sources of water, and depicts in descending order a sphere containing all of that water, followed by the Earth's liquid fresh water, and lastly in the tiny sphere all of the water in lakes and rivers.
The first and largest sphere is actually enormous, though it doesn't look so when compared to the size of the Earth--it is 860 miles in diameter and holds 332 million cubic miles of water, or about 35x1019 gallons. I do not now if the living beings in the water were figured into these calculations or what that might have looked like. ("The sphere includes all the water in the oceans, ice caps, lakes, and rivers, as well as groundwater, atmospheric water, and even the water in you, your dog, and your tomato plant.")
The next sphere is a deeper wake-up call--it represents all of our liquid fresh water ("groundwater, lakes, swamp water, and rivers"), and forms a magical sphere of about 2.5 million cubic miles, about 170 miles in diameter, or about 1% of the total volume of the great sphere.
The last sphere--the tiny blue dot just south of Sphere Two--is the "one represents fresh water in all the lakes and rivers on the planet, and most of the water people and life of earth need every day comes from these surface-water sources", with a volume of 22,339 cubic miles, and a diameter of about 35 miles, or the distance from D.C. to Baltimore.
I've never seen this image before, and I find it remarkable.
If you follow the link to the USGS website, you can also see a breakdown of all of these numbers, as well as a final sphere with ALL of the water on Earth, though I don't think you can really tell the difference between the first spehere and the super sphere.
"For my part I deem those blessed to whom, by favour of the gods, it has been granted either to do what is worth writing of, or to write what is worth reading; above measure blessed those on whom both gifts have been conferred"--Pliny the Elder
Johannes de Kehtam's Fasciculus Medicine (printed in Venice in 1500) was the first anatomy to be printed with illustrations. Ketham was described as a German doctor living in Italy and may well have been Johann von Kerchheim, a German practicing surgery and medicine in Venice during he 1470'), and who wrote a series of tracts on various aspects of medicine which were then collected into this single bound volume. The illustrations are spectacular and to me have a very modern sensibility in their mid-Renaissance woodcut legacy--the look very clear and concise, are well proportioned, nicely labeled, and give plenty of free rein to open and blank spaces on the woodblock. The only time these images really "fail" is when they appear in color--a process that would've been undertaken privately, by the purchaser of the book, who would have contracted with an artisan to color the book. The images in almost all of the cases of coloring that I have seen just do not match the elegance and brilliance of the original with no color.
[Source for all images: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE, here.]
Its interesting to make a quick note on the books on display on the bookshelf behind the seated figure of Petrus de Montagnan (who is consulting classic texts in medicine as his three patients awaits his attention): the books include Aristotle, Hippocrates ("ippocrate"), Galieno (Galen), Avicenna (980-1037), Rasis (Ibn Sina, Rasis, Razi, Al-Razi, c.865-925), Mesue, Yuhanna bin Masawayh (c.777-857), and Averroes (1126-98), Abu el-Walid ibn Ruchd, Abu el-Walid ibn Ruchd. On the shelf to the right we see a copy of Naturalis Historia by Cais de Plnii (Gaius Plinius Seocndus, also known as Pliny the Elder, who lived from 23-79 A.C.E and who held forth on all knowledge from everywhere during the first century).
It is the anatomical illustration where the un-named artist is most brilliant--the lines are sharp and crisp, the spacing elegant, and the imagery very clear. It is just lovely work:
The collaborative work of anatomist Wilhelm Braune (1831-1892) and artist C. Schmiedel (fl. mid-1800s) produced a singular work, Topographisch-anatomischer atlas nach durchschnitten an gefrorenen cadavern...(published in Leipzig in 1872), which was an oustanding example of high-realism in the art of anatomy. This book is pretty much right-to-business, with no extraneous bits as had appeared in anatomies fo rcenturies. And even though these practices had pretty much expired by the first quarter of the 19th century, Braune/Schmiedel was ever more so detailed and simple--their design was fabulous, and their detail light and exceptional.
They also made use of sliced frozen sections of cadavers, which seems to give their work that crystalline touch. The first image looks at the brain from top-to-bottom, while the second reverses the view, which is in itself somewhat unusual, even in 1872.
Looking into a very finely-produced skull from an earlier period in the work of the anatomist Govard Bidloo (1649-1713) and the artist Gérard de Lairesse (1640-1711) in their Ontleding des menschelyken lichaams, (which was printed in Amsterdam in 1690) we find a bit of a different story.
One interesting aspect of Bidloo is that he can be extraordinarily detailed and still lend a rather baroque still life to engage his subject--like the skull with musical score, above. There's no reason for the added bit of scenery, its just a luxurious background for the anatomy. And then there are examples like this incredible facial/neck dissection below, which is very hard-core realistic, just as what you might find on any dissecting table, which most assuredly did not come equipped with pen/ink/music score. Bidloo here is ultra-real, more so than the greater majority of anatomist/illustrators. [Ontleding des menschelyken lichaams...printed in Amsterdam, 1690, as a copperplate engraving with etching. Source: National Library of Medicine.]
One of my favorite atlases of all-time is Adolf Stieler's Hand-Atlas(Hand-Atlas über alle Theile der Erde und über das Weltgebäude, published in Gotha, Germany, by Justus Perthes) and edited by August Petermann. I love this series (there were eight editions and a number of intervening printings to 1891) because the maps seemed so impossibly detailed for their scale. They have so much detail and such great relief that in some very odd way they almost do not look like maps. The sheets have massive amounts of info, particularly so with areas in which you do not expect it.
This post came to be because I bumped into an old Stieler-friend--the six-sheet map of the United States. I have four different flavors of the map, but the one I like the most is from 1891. The sheets are all produced to be pieced together contiguously, so that they form a map 28"x52"--and there is so much detail the work looks a little like carto-graffiti, except of course that it isn't, and that all of the extremely small and fine engraving piles one next to the other make for a very accurate and full map of the country.
Take, for example, the Four Corners region, mainly for north-east Arizona:
This is about 50% larger than the original, about a 2"x3" section of one 15"x18" section of the six-section map, and it is just packed with detail.
And here, a smaller detail, of about a one square inch section of map, concentrating on the Canyon de Chelly. Now I know this area a little, and about the history of its cartography (somewhat), and I can safely say that this is just tremendously detailed given the scope of the map. The remarkable thing about the Stieler atlas is that all of the maps are like this. Extraordinary--not particularly beautiful in the traditional over-the-fireplace sense f beautiful, but fantastic as, well, maps (of particular and perhaps peculiar scientific loveliness).
Sometimes the rote and the routine as practice by young hands two hundred years ago can yield some surprising and beautiful results. And so we find the beauty in these columns of arithmetic problems, practiced by a young girl in Philadelphia in 1806. The work is determined and taken all together is just a lovely thing. (And yes there's a mistake here and there but it doesn't matter, not really.)
See also: Mathematical Art, the End of Simple Multiplication (1814), here.
And again in this "numeration table" where we see the
Well, these look unusual to me, mainly because I do not understand the representation of the Sun in either image. The first image (printed I guess around 1860) is the easier of the two, showing the Oikoumene, the inhabited world, of the Earth as known to Herodotus, the orbis herodoti, of the 5th century bce. All of the land to the right (south) is Libya, Arabia, Persia, and India, all undifferentiated, though we can see the Nile delta. The two main land masses poking into the sea are Thrace and Phrygia, with
no sign of very much to the west of that, no sign of Italy, nothing for the Celtic regions or Iberia, with some hint of polar regions. Why the Sun is so, I am not sure.
The red Sun makes another appearance in the outline of the solar system, in the next image. It is red, and brilliantly so, and firey; in the place of the Earth in the third sphere is the Moon, and beyond that another yellow firey star, which I take to be, perhaps, our own planet. I can't read this one, the yellow star and all...though it is very pretty.
In 1664 Philipp Jakob Sachs (Sache de Lewenbheimb) wrote an influential book on the circulation of the blood. It was the advanced work of a learned man, a naturalist and physician who was also the editor of the Ephemerides Academiae naturae curiosorum, which was the first journal in the field of natural history and medicine and one of the founders of the Academia Naturae Curiosorum (Leopoldina). His work came 40 years after the great work by William Harvey, who published Exercitatio Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus in 1628, a work in which he essentially brought the idea of circulation of the blood into the modern age, building on earlier ideas of Michael Servetus, whose 1561 work on circulation (and his religious ideas) brought him to be executed by flames.
For centuries the pulse was a vaguely understood thing reaching back into the murky medical past as far back as Galen. The association of course was with the heart, and the association of the heart was as the great controlling center of all function and control of the human body—a theory that reached far forward into the 16th century.
Servetus (physician, cartographer, theologian, writer and general all-adept Humanist of a high order) was in trouble with the church for many reasons, not the least of which was trying to dislodge the theory of the heart as sacred and the seat of wisdom. But he did establish that the heart was an organ, which didn’t sit well with very many people, least of all the Calvinist court in Vienna which found him guilty on many anti-Humanist grounds, including his anti-Trinitarian Christology, which made him a reviled figure to Catholics and Protestants. He was tried and found to be dangerously heretical, and sent to the flames.
Harvey withstood blistering attacks on his correct statements on the circulation of the blood (costing him nearly all the patients in his practice), though he at least lived to see a brighter day: Servetus, on the other hand, didn’t, and was burned at the stake for his heresies, one of which his attack on the spiritual heart.
In any event, the frontispiece to Sachs' work is an interesting allegorical composition showing a connection between the place of the very prominently featured heart in the circulation of the blood, and the water cycle, and the cosmos of creation (the breath of life coming from the winds of the Sun and the Moon).
Notes: (Sachse de Lewenheimb, Philipp Jakob Sachs, 1627-1672 , Oceanus macro-microcosmicus, seu Dissertatio epistolica analogo motu aquarum ex et ad Oceanum, sanguinis ex et ad cor... 1664, with full text via Google books here).