JF Ptak Science Books Post 1965
In this episode of the Strange Things in the Sky Department there are a number of posts dealing with Strange Earths--sometimes there are strange Earths int he sky, above the Earth. And so on. In this small offering we see a green-sea earth viewed by Martians from, well, Mars. It is the cover art for sheet music "A Signal from Mars", composed by Raymond Taylor and arranged by E.T. Paull in 1901. Somehow the Earth is being illuminated by a small canned power source of high energy light that must have the energy of a pulsar, and there's a five-pointed star that is added for unknown effects. There's mot much more that can be said, except that the music (sampled below), which is a ragtime march, has nothing to do with Mars so far as I can tell. Mars was certainly in the news when this sheet music was published in 1901--Percy Lowell had taken it upon himself to interpret Giovanni Schiaparelli's 1877 of "canali" on Mars as "canals" rather than "channels" and convinced himself that what he was seeing with his superior instrumentation were indeed structures built by engineers of another race on another planet. So, perhaps "A Signal from Mars" was much like the Atomic Motels in 1945 and Radium Cakes in 1897--folks just used a popular name in the news to excite interest in their own work via association with repetitive references.
[Source: the Library of Congress] This is a detail from:
Another curious image of Martians with telescopes comes from Puck magazine in 1904:
[Source: the Library of Congress.]
Martians pointing telescopes at the Earth is a much more preferable situation than Martians pointing gigantic cannons:
This is the cover art by the fabulous Frank R. Paul for Stanley D. Bell's "Martian Guns" found in the January 1932 issue of Wonder Stories. There's really no way to determine how big the gun is except to say that it is probably "big"--there's just nothing to place the thing in perspective, as the figures in the foreground, being Martian, don't have a specific height. They could be 6' tall, or 60'--perhaps they're only 1/10 of an inch tale, and the projectile they're firing to the earth is so devastatingly powerful that size doesn't matter.
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post Part of a series on Strange Things in the Sky
This is a quick addition to the Extra-Earth category of this blog--and an amazing one. In the other examples the extra-Earths appear simply appear , with little or no interaction between the two. In this instance we have one Earth attacking the other.
There is no necessity for this to make much or any sense, what with the purple sky and, of course, the extra-Earth--but the attacking rocket taking off from the extra-Earth extra-Florida (or thereabouts) seems to grow in size as it gets closer to its target. After all, the attacking extra-Earth is less than 300' away from what has become an enormous and marauding space vehicle (judging from the distances in relation to the buildings) which is now longer than the extra-Earth-America is wide. But in the world where a miniature extra-Earth can attack a standard-sized-Earth, this would be a minor quibble.
Honestly, I think I like to write about such things for the joy in having to think of a title for the post.
JF Ptak Science Books Post 1936
This post is a part of overlapping categories, including:
In the five 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.
I've just found another Earth-halved image, this from the comic Strange:
Written from 1951-1966, Mystery in Space very freely uses words like "astounding" and "astonishing" and "amazing" and "strange" to describe itself--on its cover (!)--and then lives up to it in so many astounding/astonishing/amazing/strange ways. Keeping simply to odd representations of the Earth, we find it halved, duplicated,cubed, miniaturized, dragged, tugged, targeted, canaled, and bullseyed; it is also the background to a WWI biplane attacking a spaceship in space, a flying skyscraper, and an alien craft lifting the United States from its geological moorings--in short, a very high and filling feast. And this, again, is just judging this book by its cover, which might actually be the best thing to do as the covers tell enough of the story to let your imagination tell the rest of the adventure. The covers tell fabulous stories of such highly unexpected ideas that they may be the only part of the book that we need to bother with, the cover doing away with the need for the printed narrative; and it may be the case that it saves the reader from the interior eye-splitting out-of-time writing.
The artwork and promise of the story are almost always (issue-after-issue) compelling, and there are a number of superb examples of simple jaw-dropping, belief- suspending, flabbergasting and mostly bad but very unexpected science fiction. But this is so potentially high-bad that the "bad" looks good, a tried-and-true badness the content of which is so surprising that its high degree of creativity and difference transcends everything else. And since we're just looking at pictures/cover art, there is no time-sink involved wading through turgid/florid/bad-bad prose for hours to only discover that the story is only getting simpler and lost and the writing even worse (worser). So Mystery in Space is a great visual luxury, a bookmark for ideas rendered in artwork that is obviously deadline-dependent, swirling in bad color and modest skill seemingly steeped in smoke and alcohol, and which delivers joyful incredulous surprises time after time.
JF Ptak Science Books Post 1774 [Part of the Strange Things in the Sky department]
Visions of the coming of hell or the apocalypse or the end of existence or the exaltation of duration were certainly depicted in art at least during the high Medieval period and the Renaissance, though I am uncertain of ever having noticed the sky on fire or facing obliteration. Perhaps the implications of its destruction would be clear in the symbolic representation of The End, the evidence of a smoking atmosphere in an infinite hole was just implied, Dr. Pangloss at play with Mr. Leibniz over paint and canvas.
Heaven opened and stars fell in various texts, not the least of which is the Book of Revelation (6:14, KJV, “And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places”). Imaging this part though was another story, especially when considering that destroying the sky was a secular event, and not driven by the great deities.
Now holes do appear in the sky in Renaissance images, but they open to allow the hand of the creator to reach through it from the nether world, or heaven, or the infinite. In the many examples of these holes that I have seen the background within the hole is entirely blank--plain white, no detail, no peek into heaven. Then again, these are holes, and not a wholesale destruction of the sky.
As an example I’d like to point out the work by the Jesuit Franciscus Nerrincq (1638-1712), De goddelycke voorsienigheydt, in which there are several odd eyes that burn their way through the atmosphere. Eyes/eye of the creator occur frequently in religious presentations and emblems, but not so very often as hands holding a pair of eyes. I know all of this is very heavy stuff in the history of Christian iconography and the progression of emblemata, but I’d rather deal with the images out of context here and have them stand on their own without interpretation.
Of course the answer for the modern equivalents of this blowing-up-the-sky adventure must have deep and varied roots in the sci-fi canon, though presently they remain a mystery to me. It is interesting to note that at one point in June 1945 in the Jornada del Muerto/the Dead Man's Walk, at the Trinity site in the desert near Alamogordo, a group of scientists were placing bets as to whether or not the test explosion of the world's first atomic weapon would set fire to the atmosphere.
In a way Tycho Brahe brought down the sky with his (naked eye) observation of a super nova on 11 November 1572. With the exception of comets and eclipses the sky had remained immutable, a perfect score of the creator’s creation, until 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. This wasn't perhaps a tearing-away of the old sky, but it certainly questioned the sky that was seen.
I should also point out that perhaps a reverse of the destruction of the celestial ceiling came about when Galileo turned his telescope to the sky and found to the astonishment of nearly everyone that there was an order of magnitude more stars in the heavens than anyone had ever experienced before. This in a way collapsed the old sky with its perfect and unchanging number of stars, showing that the creator of the universe had indeed provided more stars than anyone had ever imagined, though for reasons not yet known had kept that knowledge from humanity. By 1610 Galileo 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 title page1 of the book proclaiming some of the great discoveries of Galileo’s adventure. One of the things that Galileo brought to the world was this 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”). In a way Galileo introduced the sky-above-the-sky, available only to people with a special instrument to see it--the new reality.
This is what I had in my mind when I saw this unusual patent application (above and below). Just weeks before the beginning of WWI, two weeks before the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, followed quickly by a cascade of war declarations a few days after that, came this rather footloose idea for bombing the atmosphere
J.M. Cordray came up with and patented this notion--a barrage of balloons, heavily armed balloons, sent aloft with dangerous cargo to be exploded in the atmosphere, which was supposed to initiate a chain-reaction of some sort which would end in supplying rain for the rest of us. Theoretically, anyway. The unspecified number of balloons would be sent aloft, laden with large amounts of crushed bone and concentrated sulfuric acid (to be combined to produce nitrogen), potash, water, and large amounts of crude oil for the fire's fuel. And a candle to light it all.
It seems that the attempt to blow up a part of the sky with bone and sulphuric acid to make rain just didn't work, though I cannot (easily) find a record of the experiment being attempted.
Mr. Cordray presented himself at the top of his patent as "J.M. Cordray/Rain Maker".
The one thing that is for certain is that Cordray's attempt at weather modification was quite early--it would be another three decades before pioneering work of Kurt Vonnegut's brother, Bernard, was published (beginning in 1947, finding the ice-nucleating properties of silver iodide, AgI), which established the very real possibilities of altering the weather. This practice was employed in the U.S. military's Operation Popeye, which used cloud seeding to prolong the rainy seasons along the areas covered by the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam from March 1967 to July 1972. This sort of weather warfare is now prohibited by international convention.
And so in a way by employing weather modification as a tool of war we've been able to turn the sky into a weapon, which means that this post has followed the bombing of the sky to the sky bombing us.
See an interesting article at Paleofuture on the Cold War weather modification attempts here.
1. The title page in full 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.
Posted by John F. Ptak on March 23, 2012 at 09:48 AM in Absurdist, Unintentional, History of Holes, History of the Future, Patents, Strange Things in the Sky, Technology, History of | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
JF Ptak Science Books Post 1771
In the early days of aviation aerial assault must have seemed incredible--and an abomination. Hurling stones and other offensive weapons by trebuchet and catapult is one thing, and launching balls and shot from cannons and mortars is quite another--but actually having your weapon flown over an enemy's position and dropped, remotely or via cable, must have been ab excruciating achievement, militarily speaking. To be able to direct an explosive charge over a position not reachable by an infantry (say in 1915) must've been a short-lived comfort on the offensive end, though the user of such a technology would also have to contend with the contrary, as the enemy would be able to do the same thing themselves.
This idea was not limited to just military purposes. Companies could now wage an advertising war war against competitors in a thee-sky's-the-limit campaign, hoisting their ads on balloons anchored over a city, making it possible for the first time to have your message so universally read, a pre-intertubes version of smoke signals.
And this, seeming more on the Orwellian/1984 side, or perhaps more contemporary as an instrument of the Dear Leader in North Korea (left, fromc Popular Mechanics, July, 1939).
Here's an interesting, pre-airplane, airship-delivered explosive device: floated over an enemy's position, the chord would be pulled at the desired time to create a tear in the balloon's top, sending the craft down, with the bomb exploding on impact:
Another sort of slow death from adove advertising scheme:
In this device patented by Steinmetz the explosive device is still actually attached to the aircraft when exploded--not a very common way of delivering your weapon. The airship would advance on the enemy, with the bomb attached to a cable just above an anchor at bottom; the anchor would grapple the target, and the bomb detonated from the gondola of the airship:
JF Ptak Science Books Post 1767
In a post last week in the Strange Things in the Sky department: the Exploding Moon, I mentioned that images of the Earth's Moon actually exploding seem to be quite uncommon. The ever-observant Ray Girvan wrote to say that the Moon does just that in the 2002 remake of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, when Earth's lunar mining operations disrupt it so that it makes the Moon disintegrate, raining parts of itself on Earth.
And it just so happens that I stumbled on another odd image of the Moon coming to its end: a mention of a drawing by Thomas Voter, showing the Moon disintegrating under the force of the Earth's gravity. It appears in the November, 1939 issue of Popular Mechanics in the "Explorers of Space" article.
Thomas Voter's illustrations led me to his image showing Boy Scouts flying on their odd destiny to the Moon for a rendezvous with Post-War Moon Nazis in what is a surprising juvie novel by Robert Heinlein, Rocket Ship Galileo (1947). [Image courtesy of the excellent Roborant site, well worth a visit and bookmark, here.] The three boy-rocket-experimenters are on their way their with their Nobelist uncle, piloting a thorium-fueled mail rocket that the Manhattan Project Uncle was able to rig up for interplanetary adventures, which gets them to a nuke-war-ravaged-Moon with victorious commanding Nazis over whom the intrepid travelers eventually triumph. This really has nothing to do with exploding or disintegrating Moons, but finding a reference to Moon Nazis does classify as a strange-thing-in-the-sky. evidently the story is much disparaged by modern readers, though the author of Roborant feels as though there is a much greater depth to the story that the possible high-comic storyline implies.
It looks like there is a sub-genre for Evil Alien Space Nazis in books and film, but I just can't go any further with the topic.
JF Ptak Science Books Post 1764 [Part of the Unintentional Absurdist/Surreal series]
I've called on M. de Belidor (1698-1761) before in this blog, using some of the images of his books to describe the Found-Surreal, the Unintentional Dadaist (and so on), images that once slightly removed from their original context take on an entirely new life, sometimes fantastical and odd.
The engraving above is a fine example, an appears innocently (and beautifully, and importantly) in his Architectura Hydraulica (1740), and titled "Demonstration of Friction". I've simply inverted it and removed some of the numerical notation--and then, suddenly, it becomes a sort of Steampunk Balloon Machine--a lovely collection of small balloons lifting large wheels and cogs, assembling some sort of something in mid-air, demonstrating very little friction, of lightness and airiness
Belidor was a remarkable engineer and theoretician who blended the two practices perfectly--actually one of the great issues in his career as trying to disseminate higher levels of techno-competence among people working with machines and using technology to some end. He often found that the skills necessary to reproduce and maintain some of the machines he wrote about to be, um, lacking in the population at large. He was also very transparent in technology's role in military life (which at about the time he was writing was nearly tautological) and tried to apply the advancements he made in that area (as he was a military engineer and soldier) to the industrial and social sphere. In any event he was a very interesting man who produced books that were significant for a half-century or more past his death.
The second image is even more striking, and is not altered at all--the difference in perspective comes with a difference of perspective, which in this case is simply labeling the image as something it isn't, a Massive Steampunk Flying Machine of the 17th Century:
It is nothing of the sort, of course, but if you suspend a little critical thinking then that is what this engraving sort of looks like. In reality it a combined profile of the machine (top of the image) and view of its placement (bottom) of the great technological and engineering feats of the day, a modern marvel, a wonder--the Marly Machine. This was a large, integrated device constructed (over a seven-year-long period and finished in 1684) to pump water from the Seine to Louis XIV's chateaux at Versailles and Marly, and did so magnificently up a 500-foot vertical rise to an aqueduct and then on to the final destinations. Those paddle wheels on the sides of the installation were monsters: 36' in diameter, capturing and releasing the water of the Seine to power 250 pumps which sent the water on its way up the long and steep hill.
Here's a view of the device in situ, with a long course of other implements ascending the hill. [Images courtesy of Marlymachine.org.]
So with a slight suspension of analysis and a little inversion, these two images take on a flighty life of their own, independent of their intended purposes.
JF Ptak Science Books Post 1763 [Part of the Strange Things in the Sky Department.]
In my experience of Strange-Things-in-the-Sky Department,the idea of the exploding Earth is far more popular and more illustrated than that of the Exploding Moon. So far as I can recall Moon doesn't explode in most cases of early sci fi, including the earliest case of Lucian's Icaromenippus and his great True History (a satire on outer space travel and interplanetary warfare between the kings of the Moon and the Sun over possession of the Morning Sat (Venus). Nor does the Moon explode in the other very early efforts of de Bergerac (1657), Francis Godwin (Man in the Moone, 1632, where Our Hero gets to the Moon on a goose-powered aerial something), Johnannes Kepler (Somnium, 1634) and others. The Moon gets into trouble enough, but not so much trouble to lead it to blow up.
(I can't leave this without mention of Robert Heinlein, who wrote many short stories addressing the Moon, many with fantastic titles and even better story lines: "Columbus Was a Dope", 1947; "Gentlemen, Be Seated!", 1948, about a lunar tunnel; a Boy Scouts on the Moon, "The Black Pits of Luna", 1948; "The Man Who Sold the Moon", a 1949 "Nothing Ever Happens on the Moon", 1949 (future Boy Scouts on the Moon); "The Menace From Earth", 1957, (Lunar teenager angst and a muscle-powered space ship); "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" (1966), (and a Lunar penal colony)--lovely titles for some superior writing.
The Moon certainly takes abuse here and there, ranging from cloud attack (in Lucian) to colonization to this very memorable (and frightening/disturbing, as I found as a child) as in the case of the Man in the Moon being shot in the eye with a space ship (George Melies, Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon) (1902)).
And so in a bit of rambling about the Moon that has gone on in this blog, there are no other mentions of the Moon exploding, though there are some other strange things going on there. Just not "exploding" strangenesses.
And especially not Laurie Anderson's "The Exploding Moon".
JF Ptak Science Books Post 1749 [Part of the Strange Things in the Sky department.]
The Death Ray is a long-discussed idea, extending back as far to Archimedes at least--discussed, attempted, abandoned and dismissed. But as a matter of fact, the thing was actually invented, and deployed, though not int he sense of an EM weapon, or LRAD/ultrasonic, or Teller x-ray laser, or even a Wellsian heat ray (below).
The "Death Ray" made its appearance in the 1880's, but not in the normal sense of what we would today think of as a "weapon"--this death ray could locate the enemy hidden miles from the front, or pick out ships at sea far from shore, and so on, removing stealth capacity, making it possible for these elements to be identified as targets, and then possibly removed, though not by the ray itself.
This "death ray" was the search light. In the 1880's when the technology of electric lighting was still in its first practicable decade, the idea of being able to focus a beam of light from a lantern source hauled on a single-mule carriage and powered by an on-board battery, small steam engine and Gramme dynamo was a spectacular. achievement.
[This image appeared in the Scientific American in 1886 and features what is probably a one-foot diameter mirror, making it capable of illuminating an object up to about a mile away. Something with a three-foot diameter could work its magic on object up to four miles away.]
This defensive/offensive weapon/device was very soon afterwards made into a trickle-down appliance that was placed into commercial use almost immediately. The standard use of course would be upgrading lighthouses, but one special use was using a large mirror in a device to project an advertisement on the clouds in a city--ads in the sky.
Such a device was used experimentally at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago for the World's Fair of 1893, flashing the daily attendance on the clouds. I'm not sure why the greater revenue-generating employment of this technology took another year to develop. And so "The Death Ray", from Battlefield to Breakfast Cereal in a few short years.
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post [A part of the Strange Things in the Sky series.]
"... Living only for the moment, turning our full attention to the pleasures of the moon, the snow, the cherry blossoms and the maple leaves; singing songs, drinking wine, diverting ourselves in just floating, floating; ... refusing to be disheartened, like a gourd floating along with the river current: this is what we call the floating world..".--Asai Ryōi, in his Ukiyo monogatari "Tales of the Floating World", c. 1661
Unfortunately I have lost (!) the reference for this image, but my guess is that it is definitely English and that it comes at the times of the Civil War(s) of 1642-1651. This image below shows the hanging of some poor fellow--and though it seems to be a crown (?) that the man is wearing I can't imagine who the royal person would be do be executed in such a manner. It seems to me that the mode of execution was beheading (as with Charles I) and also by firing squad, and I just don't know who was hanged. In any event, I'm after the weird, removal bits from the image more than what it says to us from history. And the out-of-context item hjere of course are the "floating" trees:
JF Ptak Science Books Post 1554
In the history of mountains seldom have they raised themselves so magnificently as that seen in Jacopo da Valenza's St. Jerome in the Wilderness. Painted in about 1509, da Valenza (who flourished from 1478-1509) depicts the 4th century Saint--a Doctor of the Catholic Church, proponent of asceticism, scholar, philosopher, historian and translator of the Bible--sitting calmly and reading a book balanced on the top of a rock pile, sitting in a deep state, with a metaphorical depiction of time and biography looming impossibly and invisibly behind him in the form of a mountain.
I believe that the scene that wind their way around the mountains are those from St. Jerome's life, displayed for all but not to him, shown as a chronological memory in simultaneous display.
The imagery of the mountain displays as much history and imagination as required by the viewer. It has a distinct Tower of Babel quality to it, though here the mountain very decidedly has no upper limit, no summit, the mountain disappearing into the north end of the painting, and actually seems to be getting larger and more dense as it ascends.
Jerome is serene, larger matters on his mind than a simple history of one life.
The saint is frequently shown in very stark surroundings, and occasionally appears in more formal and lush biblio-related scenes--as the man did, after all, serve his Pope in very advanced capacities in Rome for a number of years. But this I think is how we picture Jerome in a generalized way--except for the extraordinary mountain.
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post Part of our Strange Things in the Sky Department
When Worlds Collide wasn't so much about another world colliding with the Earth--it was another star, a "rogue star", that enters the solar system and heads directly towards the Earth. Luckily for a selected few, a billionaire astronomer sees the thing coming and decides to construct a spaceship to populate a friendly "planet" near Alpha Centauri. Oh well, its 1933, and perhaps anything was possible--after all, the Empire State Building (which is depicted in so many of these movie posters in a not-good way) was just finished in 1931, after two years of construction (!).
So the following are movie posters for the 1951 film version of the 1933 book--except for the first image, which is from the book.
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
This is a continuation of a series of posts in the Strange Things in the Sky Department.
This image of St. Augustine's City of God shows the Primum Mobile holding the walled city (Rome, or Romish) aloft, the artist distinguishing it from the earthly city:
Perspective drawing apparatus, from John Bates' encyclopedic The Mysteryes of Nature and Art : Conteined in foure severall Tretises, the first of Water Workes, the Second of Fyer Workes, the third of Drawing, Colouring, Painting, and Engraving, The fourth of divers Experiments, as wel serviceable as delightful: partly collected, and partly of the Authors Peculiar Practice, and Invention, printed in London " for Ralph Mab and are to be sold by Iohn Jackson and Francis Church at the Kings armes in Cheapside 1634". [Source: the fabulous Bibliodyssey blogsite.] This was a book that Isaac Newton owned and worked from when he was a teenager, using its useful recipes and instructions to build a number of bits, prankish and practical. (This city isn't actually floating, of course--it just looks that way.)
Here's a semi-famous illustration that appeared earlier in this blog--perfect here to offset the older "floating cities". This one depicts a floating or hovering or anti-gravity-something installation of a future Manhattan, existing peacefully above its former Earth-bound base, now overgrown with nature. The New Manhattan Air Island is many square miles of buildings, and reminds me of the mothership from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
I just don't know the story behind this image, though perhaps it is...well, I don't know. There's a whole lot of things that it could be, but then there's the Tall Ships on the top of mountains of ice and the air-breathing skaters in the foreground...I don't know:
These guys just seem to be in a disembodied space:
And this in a sort-of opposite way to the above, a disembodied sitter in a very articulated space:
I'm not sure what to make of these buggers, though it is very creepy looking...,perhaps its the bad-blue sky that just sets everything off badly:
This image from yet another ubiquitous Gernsback publication and shows (another!)
floating airpad/port for whatever sort of hovering vehicle that approaches. Interestingly there are a
number of skydivers using unisuits, which probably seems pretty attractive to skydivers today. Also
the roof decorations are unexpected!
And from the exploding planet series, here we see someone (is that Captain Starr of Space?) pushing the button to do, um, something:
JF Ptak Science Books Post 1494
It was this lovely engraving from Richard Bradley's A General Treatise of Husbandry and Gardening..., printed in London in 1721/2, that brought up the issue of structure in creation, and how that issue was in one way approached by the new tool in the scientific toolchest, the microscope.
"...the Contrivances of the Almighty Creator is as visible in the meanest Insect of Plant, as in the greatest Leviathan or the strongest Oak. To touch upon all the Wonders this Instrument shews us would be infinite"--William Molyneux, on the microscope, in his A Treatise of Dioptricks in Two Parts (1692, quotation fro the second edition of 1709 via Marjorie Nicholson's Science and Imagination, Cornell, 1956.
The question that the microscope---newly introduced and popularized by Robert Hooke in 1665 and Anton van Leeuwenhoek in 1674--was so able to address at this time was the question of the structure of things, and whether the Almighty Creator allowed for unrestrained creativeness or if the cosmos was subject to patterns and forms. The microscope was so tremendously nimble that it allowed its observers the luxury of finding "correct" answers on either/both sides of the issue, that arguments could be well made and sustained for variety and regularity. But of course all found the reason for either end of the argument deeply seated in the e hands of god, as seen in the lovely quote below by the great early microscopical popularizer, Henry Baker1.
But this is just the tiniest bit of a nod at the question of structure in the history of science, a search for the relationships between, well, things small and large: atomic, molecular, cellular, organism, population, ecosystem,solar system, universe. The issue of structure may be the only issue--perhaps if you were made to select one question to have answered, automatically, an answer for everything, it might be this issue of how things stand in relations to one another.
Which gets us to this 1721 engraving of a tree-covered hill, following the designs of a human creator, a re-animator of the natural landscape according to a theory of beauty, part of which hangs in the form of a triangle in the right-hand upper corner. A three-sided strategy of the relationships in nature, provided by a human vision. A very small appreciation of an attempt to recognize the relationships between things, and in this case, the beauty of trees and hills.
1. "The first Part of this Treatise discovers in the Particles of Matter composing Salts and saline Substances, Properties whose amazing Effects would surpass all human Belief or Conception, were we not convinced of their Truth by the strongest ocular Demonstration. That beautiful Order in which they arrange themselves and come together under the Eye, after being separated and set at Liberty by Dissolution, is here described and composed but one kind of figure, however simple, with Constancy and Regularity, we should declare it wonderful: What must we then fay, when we see every Species working as it were on a different Plan, producing Cubes, Rhombs, Pyramids, Pentagons, Hexagons, Octagons, or some other curious Figures peculiar to itself; or composing a Variety of Ramifications, Lines, and Angles, with a greater Mathematical Exactness than the most skilful Hand could . draw them?"
"Sensible of my own Ignorance, I pretend not to account how this is done: all I know is, that Chance or Accident cannot possibly produce Constancy and Order, nor inert Matter give Activity and Direction to itself. When therefore these Particles of Salts are seen to move in Rank and File, obedient to unalterable Laws, and compose regular and determined Figures, we must recur to that Almighty Wisdom and Power which planned out the System of Nature, directs the Courses of the Heavens and governs the whole Universe." -- Original, shorter quote of Henry Baker in his Employment of the Microscope (1753) found in Nicholson's book; the above, longer version is from the 1764 (and second) edition, found here.