A Daily History of Holes, Dots, Lines, Science, History, Math, the Unintentional Absurd & Nothing |1.6 million words, 7000 images, 3.6 million hits| Press & appearances in The Times, The Paris Review, Le Figaro, MENSA, The Economist, The Guardian, Discovery News, Slate, Le Monde, Sci American Blogs, Le Point, and many other places... 3,000+ total posts
I've seen a number of "found" USS Enterprise outlines in antique images recently: this one occurs in the May 1935 issue of Popular Science Monthly. This image shows a proposal for a versatile hangar for dirigibles: the airship could moor itself to a traveling mooring mast that looks like it could do a 360 on tacks around the landing area, and then brought down to a landing on the circular pad, which can be lowered to place the dirigible in an attached hangar. It looks as though multiple hangars could be attached to this complex.
Here's another view, from the cover--a non-"found" NCC-1701 design:
The days of the great airships were pretty numbered by this point, its future only 600 days away or so from crashing and burning along with the Hindenburg in May 1937.
For other related posts on this blog just enter "dirigible" in the Google search box at upper left.
This beautiful ad appeared in the middle of The Engineer, published in London on 14 July 1876. John Fowler & Co. sold all manner of steam machinery for agricultural and mining purposes, as we can see in the little drawings that illustrate the ad--and particularly the mining scene, which shows the Fowler machinery above and below ground. The original ad is about 5"x7"--the little mine shaft at bottom is only a few millimeters.
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:
There are a number of posts on this blog that have no real category, though they are joined by one simple principle--they look "straight" onto something, like straight up, straight down, and straight through. It isn't necessarily obvious, but these points of view are really pretty scarce in the history of antique prints. (Since there is no category you can search "straight" int he Google search box at left for other poss.) In this case, above, we have the gunner's eye view of the working of a machine gun, a great image published by The Illustrated London News in 1916.
The machine gun type isn't stated but I figured that it must be a water-cooled Vickers .303--from this vantage point your face wouldn't be more than a foot from the sight; the curved bits at front are hand grips, and the "trigger" (an oval button that you press in to activate the gun) would be between those two curved elements and just below--I think that you could've seen the trigger if it was drawn in, though for whatever reason it is not there. In any event those hand grips are less than 9 inches apart, so you can tell now that the view of the machine gun is from very close proximity.
Here's an unexpected find: a video of shooting a Vickers (without sighting mechanism) at nearly this exact perspective, found on youtube:
I came upon this interesting image in a wrist-bending/breaking volume of Scientific American, the 27 November 1869 issue (page 337), featuring something I never gave any thought to--a millstone sharpener. Once seen it makes perfect sense to me to keep the channels of the stone in good repair, and John Dickinson created this lovely apparatus to do just that, using industrial-grade diamonds on the grinding surface. The device won a medal in its presentation at the 1862 world's fair in London, and appeared in ads from that year in the agricultural-world's equivalent of the Scientific American, the American Agriculturalist. The exact illustration was used a few years later in an article on Dickinson's tool in The Manufacturer and Builder (volume 3, 1871, page 59), though this seems to have been a common practice, as I've noticed many times that SA reproduced foreign images without attribution. In any event, it was a smart invention, though the clientelle for it sounded as though they needed a bit of a "sell" for the sale:
"Millers who may be unacquainted with the nature of diamonds or their durability, it is reasonable to suppose, will be somewhat skeptical and incredulous as to the practicability of using them successfully as an economical application in dressing the lands of millstones."
Augustin Lajarrige ("un mecanicien de Marseille") devised this ingenious mechanism, an automatic page turner ("tourne-page automatique"), in 1887. It was made for someone playing the piano--the pianist would advance the pages back or forward by simply moving the bar with the leg left or right. It is a simple but ingenious and elegant idea.
La Nature: Revue des sciences et de leurs applications aux arts ..., Volume 15, page 157, 1887.
[See: La Nature, here: ]http://tinyurl.com/px4zl2b]
[Source: Scientific American, July 11, 1869; also [The full description of the apparatus (as seen in the American Phreonological Journal, September, 1869) can be read in the continued reading section, below.]
And so in 1869 came this odd Victorian appeal to a frosty blend of survivability and entertainment.The fellow in this woodcut was decked out in the very latest lifesaving apparatus for making one’s waxed-mustachioed way through disaster. The surviving member donned a very resistant, very heavy suit made of rubber, including a helmet (of some sort), all of which was made to make the wearer impervious to cold or heat./ Under the rubber suit was a floatation/buoyancy undersuit which seems to fit snug around the wear’s waistcoat. It looks as though the whole of the suit would increase the mass of the wearer by something like one-third. Most intriguing here is the little companion buoy (complete with a “Eureka” flag), which was outfitted with water, food, “reading material so that he may read the news to pass the time of day”, cigars, a pipe and tobacco, plus torches. Evidently, this was to keep the person afloat, alive, and entertained for days on end.
[Source: Scientific American via Google Books]
This magnificent 1877 non-SteamPunk telescoping india-rubber screw, invented by Traugott Beek (of Newark N.J.), is supposed to be waterproof, so that the wearer could put it on over evening clothing (as is the case in this illustration) and enjoy a spin in the surf before contemplating other Victorian nighttime reveries. It was said that the wearer could stow away a month's worth of food in the suit, somehow--I don't see how this could be, especially if there was a month's worth of water, which would like fitting in the suit with another (larger) person.
[Source: Scientific American, May, 1877, issue #18.]
Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose as Ms. Stein has said, though that doesn't necessarily apply to buckets and picks. Once upon a time there was a solid and universal need for many varieties of each one of these (exclusive of the not-elusive Ms. Hyacinth Bucket-pronounced-bouquet as the Major would say),and we get a taste for them in these pages of advertisements.
The first is for Hudson's hardware ("steel trucks, points, crossings, portable railway, steel buckets") and so on, presumably mostly for mining, and it appeared in The Engineer for July 4, 1884:
The ad has a superb aroma of engineering heavy finery.
The second is from the Engineering and Mining Journal, July 8, 1876, and the ad trumpets a "perfect, solid cast metal pick" for all sorts of segmented work. Different jobs, different surfaces, different environments, different people--different picks for the job.
"Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose."--G. Stein, (Sacred Emily, Geography and Plays)
"A rose is a rose is an onion."--E. Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls
By all measures, this window is of course a window. It is almost not a window because in the mass of the structure it is almost not there. But it certainly was--even if its height is great than ten times its width--when this cathedral at Asti was being built in the 13th century (and into the 14th). In any event, whatever the "is" might be here and in spite of the apparent isn'tness, it has a very appealing appeal.
--Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, found in Cesar Daly (editor), Revue Generale de l'Architecture et des Travaux Publics, ca. 1860 (not sure of the volume).
[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.]
On the heals of two water-related posts in the last two days (one of the waterless Jornada del Muerto in New Mexico and the other on the well at the Turin citadel as a reverse-tower) comes this fine image of a geological/hydrological cross section of London, from the Illustrated London News for July 20, 1929.
All elements of this collage are very (screen-filling) clickable, and sharp:
I've bumped into three interesting instances of using replacements for the actual equipment in preparing for war. When you think of the action and order and behavior expected of them, and then observe the materials they were given to prepare to do so, it is absolutely remarkable to think of how they responded, and of the enormous valor and courage with which all of this was accomplished.
Case A: Flight Simulator, 1911
Just three years after the Wright Brothers arrived in Europe to revolutionize European flying, and following an order of magnitude series of advancement and achievement, the British Navy was already beginning to train classes of sailors as aviators in dynamic flight-free devices. This idea of simulating flight enabled the training (and more importantly, the selection) of aviators before anybody actually got into a plane, speeding the process of determining who was fit for flight and who was not, quickening the British pace to form a fighting force in the air.
This interesting graphic appeared in The Illustrated London News for 29 July 1911, and was entitled "Jack Goes Aloft--New Style...Trying to Keep a Stationary Machine Steady in a Wind; Sailors Practicing with a Dummy Aeroplane". This was five months before the establishment of the Royal Naval Flight School, but more importantly, just a few months after the historic flight of Eugene Ely, who took off in his aircraft from the deck of the USS Pennsylvania in the Mare Island Navy Yard--of more profound interest perhaps is the fact that Ely landed his plane on the same restricted deck space. (In a way the primitive stopping mechanisms use by Ely are sort of in use today. ) I am sure that few naval people missed the significance of this event--I know that across the ocean Winston Churchill was instantly at work on the idea of using aircraft on ships. But it seems that after all of the initial successes in the U.S. that when everything was said and done, the Brits took the lead in modernizing their navy to include aircraft.
The moveable book (flapbook) has long been interesting to me--unfortunate though that in my own fields they weren't used very often. There are some very notable exceptions--early geometries would occasionally be published with many of the geometric illustrations made to pull out a little with the tug of a string to show you the construction in 3-D. Then of course there are the paper dissection manikins, where you can find nearly-life-sized paper anatomies with hundreds of movable/liftable flaps, and smaller examples of the body and specific organs that can be simple or not simple whatsoever. These were time-intensive efforts, and in their own way they provided a sort of pre-MRI MRI by revealing the various layers of 3-D objects with 2-D tools--and they're beautiful and captivating objects.
(And this example is for sale at the blog bookstore, here.)
This plate appears in Der Maschinenbau. Modelle.Zeichenerklärungen zu den Modellen des Werkes, by R. Georg, printed by Heinrich Killinger in Nordhausen in 1925. The major detraction here is an old 5-inch tear that has been repaired verso with aacid-free tape, otherwise in nice condition.
I've written a number of times on this blog about my interest in collecting the artwork of children--kid art from say before 1900--and how difficult it is to actually find examples. Most of that has been serendipitous, finding scribbles and drawings of notebooks, and ledgers, and free endpapers of schoolbooks, that sort of thing. There are a number of reasons for this scarcity--the greatest being lack of paper, and pencils, or paints; that, coupled with the stuff needing to survive multiple generations of house cleans and moves and so on, well, it just means that not a lot has survived.
[Source: Scientific American, September 13, 1890]
Lack of paper or paper being too expensive was a big deal, and so kids used slates, which means that very little has survived on the slate itself. And to further point out the ephemeral nature of slate-written/drawn material, I present the slate eraser sponge! It is a little bit of a thing that fits over the slate stylus and allows a really thorough erasure/sponging of anything on your slate. No only was the slate stuff gone, it was double-gone.
This is also an invention that is remarkably well nested in the dustbin of abandoned and unnecessary useful inventions that worked superbly for about two decades, and were never heard from again.
Life going on underground has always been very interesting to me--particularly so when a good tech story is accompanied by great art. This is certainly the case with the cover story for the September 15, 1890 issue of Scientific American, featuring the St. Claire Tunnel between Ontario and Port Huron, Michigan. This was the world's first "full size" (that is, large enough for a train) tunnel and spanned (?) 6,025' between tunnel portals and 2,290 of river width, making for a great technological achievement.
[The issue is too large for the scanner so it is reproduced in two scans with a gap in the middle.]
The Scientific American celebrates the meeting of the two tunneling halves, each just about to join their excavation efforts at midway under the river. It is interesting that the artist would include those 40 tiny figures at work around the "Great Shields", which were functioning as a sort of enclosure for the working going on to remove the earth. Better yet is the smallish inset at bottom depicting the scale of the venture--in Real Life those images of people in the inset are only 1mm tall.
This issue is available for purchase via the Blog Bookstore, here.
We have nearly 4000 Scientific American issues available, overall, some bound as half-year issues, some as single weeklies, from 1845-1930 or so. If you have any interest in this journal please send an email...