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
I couldn't resist this display found in a short work on the gold fields in Queensland, Australia. William Adams & Company furnished the necessaries for running oil rigs and various mining instruments. The gear is just nicely displayed and presented:
Source: The Goldfields of Queensland. Charters Towers Goldfield, by William Lees. Queensland, Outridge Printing Company, 1899. 24.5x18cm, (xii), 34pp. Numerous small inset throughout, including larger images of works, as well as birds-eye views of Charters Towers, Queensland, and four other full-page photo images, plus a full-page plan of the works. (The title page calls for “With Plan” and I'm pretty sure that the full-page plan is it; I can find no evidence of a folding plan or any such thing in the table of contents. The publication is also filled with many advertisements.
Retinal identification is here, and it is in the future; it was in the past's version of the future in the P.K. Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? in 1968 which was turned into the film Blade Runner in 1982. But long before any of this was Carleton Simon and Isidore Goldstein, who figured out that everyone has a unique display of veins in their retina. Of course this is not exactly as obvious as fingerprints, but evidently it was a whole new thing in 1936--highly interesting. ANd what struck me was the "retinal protractor" which was like a grid placed on the photograph of the retina onto which the veins would be plotted, from there it went to another step to assign numerical values.
Source: Carleton Simon. The retinal method of identification; a new system of classifying retinal patterns. Presented at the annual convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police at Kansas City,Mo.,September 21st to 24th, 1936. 11x8.5" cover/title, followed by 4 leaves of photographs showing the sections of the retina, examples of the veinous patterns, and a retina protractor explaining the sections of the retina in a common language for placement.
Dr. Simon--"Criminologist of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, New York Association of Chiefs of Police..." is the Simon of Simon & (Dr. Isidore) Goldstein, whose groundbreaking paper1 introducing the uniqueness of the patterns of retinal blood vessels and their use in identification, was published on September 15, just a week before this address. This publication may have been a handout for the address--it consists of one page of cover text and a separate four leaves of retinal pattern photographs with a cover sheet.
1. "One of the most accurate techniques for human identification is based on the uniqueness of the retina blood vessels pattern. The unique structure of the blood vessels in the retina pattern was first introduced in 1936 by Simon and Goldestein" . Simon C,, Goldstein, I., "Retinal Method of Identification", New York State J Med. 1936 Sep; 15-- noted in "Retinal Identification System using Fourier-Mellin Transform and Fuzzy Clustering" Hadi Jafariani and Hamid Tabatabaee, Indian Journal of Science and Technology, Vol 7(9), 1289–1296, September 2014.
There is an origin certainly for the reference to "shooting" fil or "shooting" a movie and such, and I think that it is fair to say that the following two illustrations of photographic innovations will explain that origin. The first is E. Enjalbert's "photo-revolver", a woodcut and explanation of which appeared in Scientific American (""A Photographic Revolver for Amateurs" ) May 17, 1884. It really is an ingenious thing: the lens of the camera was located in the barrel (#2) with the camera apparatus in section "H"; the photo-sensitive plates (life sized at #3), are both pushed forward and down with the action of the trigger/hammer. It is a snappy design. On the other hand I don't think I'd want to actually use the thing in an urban environment, as there might not be time for an explanation that "this is a ....".
(From the signature at bottom right of teh wood engraver this was no doubt published earlier in La Nature.)
And then there's the great Etienne Marey's "Fusil Photographique", as it appeared in La Nature in 1882, which was an early and significant step in the development of cinematography, though again a highly problematic and time-invasive explanation out in public might escape the user:
If there was any debate on the origin of the above-mentioned phrase, this might sway it.
I bumped into this robot in the pages of Illustrated London News for August 27, 1932. The idea of mechanical people had been around at least since the early 19th century, and by the time this one appeared i its gleaming glory in 1932, the word "robot" was around for a dozen years, invented in 1920 by Karel Capek for his book on the future called R.U.R. Actually the human-like forms created by Capek in this early scifi work were biotech, and not fully mechanized.) The form of the robot stretches back hundreds of years, in a way--if not the exactly the idea of a robot, but at least with the appearance of one. "Alpha" was anthropomorphic, but hardly what you'd call bio-mechanical, or even pretending to be so. It was created by Harry May of London, and was evidently 6'4" tall and weighed a ton (or two, perhaps), and was supposed to entertain and answer questions from the crowd when unveiled at the London Radio Exhibition of 1932. Mr. May kept the details of his creation secret, though no doubt the robot was operated offstage by confederates, the voice supplied by wireless. Still, Alpha was a major attraction, and kept people entertained, if not confused. In any event, it looked frightening as a vision of a possible 1930's future-vision.
[Source: http://davidbuckley.net/DB/HistoryMakers/Alpha1932.htm This is a very interesting blog by David Buckley, including a long chronological section on the developments of robots--Alpha appears on this list, which includes six or so good links for contemporary stories about the robot's appearance.]
The following images relating to chemistry were found in the illustration volumes of Abraham Rees' (1743-1825) great work, Cyclopædia; or, Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Literature. This was a massive undertaking for Rees, but his leadership and editorial skills were up to the task--in the end, 39 volumes were published containing nearly 40 million words, plus another six thick volumes contained the engraved illustrations to the monograph-length articles. They are marvelous images, full of detail, and beautifully designed. This fine example on electricity contains several gorgeous tiny details, including the following:
Well, this is not anywhere near the first image of a pulley, not anywhere close--I don't even know when that might have appeared in a manuscript in the 9th century or whatever--but it is certainly a very attractive gang of pulleys. It occurs in Robert Fludd’s (1574-1637), Utriusque Cosmi . . . Historia (1617), and in it I see Hero/Heron of Alexandria (10-70 ACE), who I always associate with the pulley, and of course with his famous inventions, which in some respect are early forms of 'robots". In this image, the pulley-robot of some complex means is operating the "drive element" and producing (still) the necessary energy to produce change. And--this is a fine image.
A Possible-reality from the visionary Robert Fludd
[Source: University of Utah, http://content.lib.utah.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/naturae/id/1587/show/1265/rec/1]
Robert Fludd’s (1574-1637), title page for his Utriusque Cosmi . . . Historia (1617) features this complicated astrological wheel with a Vitruvian-man-like image at the vortex of the imaged pulls and pushes of the cosmos. In addition to everything else, real and imagined, Rosicrucianism and astrology and puffy-birds, Fludd, who was an English physician, delved deeply into the real stuff of the world in this book in addition to all of the other make-believe--optics, the musical intervals, perspective drawing, hydraulic engineering, construction of lifting machines, military engineering and many other interesting, physical science topics. But this drawing, right there on the title page, reveals Fludd’s real interests and shows what governs what he does. Everything else, the math and and the physics, services this need. Of course the image is beautiful, which is why it is here, but it is also a deeply personal, exploitative, cover-all for the things that Fludd wanted to find.
But there is a lot of other interesting, and potentially-applicable, real-world stuff and proposals in the book as we can see in the exotic and wonder-full image of the high-Renaissance "tank" that leads this short post. I'm not so sure that this thing would actually move--I assume that it has wheels or something in the front part to help it move along, otherwise that weapon would go nowhere. Even if it was assumed to be mobile, I wonder about whether four horses is enough to move along something that size plus six canon and at least three men. Even with 5'/6' wheels, it seems not so likely that this would roll across a battlefield. All that said, this did exist in the realm of possibility, and Fludd had much else. Since I've been doing research on the first battlefield appearances of tanks, this one particular image caught my attention.
Here's an unusual (semi-rigid) airship designed by Enrico Forlanini (13 December 1848 – 9 October 1930, an Italian engineer, inventor and aeronautical pioneer), appearing in Technical World Magazine for May, 1915, and bearing the fetching caption "Another Type of Aircraft". It certainly was different, referred to here as the "flying cucumber", though I doubt the Italians thought that. In any even the airship went down in 1914 and was not a factor in the war.
In the last day or so I've been checking through some of my popular journals looking for references of the first usage of a tank in combat in WWI (which occurred in April, 1917). Popular Mechanics had a quick reference in their monthly issue for Map 1917, though now that I am into September 1917 for Scientific American I haven't found anything on the tank in its pages. (Still to come is the Illustrated London News which I do recall having a large piece on the tank in April, 1917; and also the Illustrirte Zeitung, which I also recall having something on the tank in their place quite quickly following the tank's appearance, which was an introduction to a new form of warfare that caught Germany very much by surprise.
[Popular Mechanics, August, 1917, pg 307]
It will no doubt be of interest to many that in August 1917, just four months after the first use of the tank that Popular Mechanics had a fairly detailed article for children of all ages on constructing a toy tank. Almost as quickly as a monthly magazine can report on an event, Popular Mechanics did so and then very quickly thereafter had a DIY project in its pages of the new innovation. I reprint the four-page article in full:
No doubt there exist many opportunities to mine the radio broadcasting past with the statistics in this publication, though for my purposes now, I'm just reproducing a few of its very engaging graphic displays of information. The document, The Good New Summer Time, a Probe of the Summertime Listening Audience of Today, published by the National Broadcasting Company, and printed in 1936, contains useful information regarding programming and advertising for the relatively new medium of radio. The standards for the graphics are both light and a little complex--for example, in the display immediately below/center in the montage, we see a comparison between summer and winter adult audiences, the data points plotted in units of a standing man and seated woman listening to the radio.
There really wasn't that much data to be displayed, though the designers managed to fill the page in a pleasing way. It seems, overall, that this was an uncommon effort to display a small amount of highly useful limited-distribution data in an engaging manner.
Continuing what has become a series of posts from 1917 (all this prompted by looking for early mentions of the first use of a tank in battle during WWI) we come to The Enormity section. There are others to come, but there is something extra here in measuring production in terms of tall buildings--in this case, the Woolworth Building. In 1917 this was the world's tallest building, and was so from 1911-1930, with 53 floors and 792' high, its neo-Gothic greatness replaced by the Bank of Manhattan (928') and then by the Chrysler Building, followed by the Empire State Building, and then the World Trade Center, and so on, which I mention just to put the Woolworth into perspective as a famous building capable of being used as a standard of measure. What our graphic from the Scientific American (January 6, 1917) as to show is the enormity of the newish American automobile industry. The large car is supposed to represent the amalgamation of all cars built in the U.S.--the striking thing about the graphic for me is the second car, which is the production for only the year 1916. In the background we see an enormous gold coin for the annual expenses of the car industry, and further back still the enormous cans of gas and oil used annually (which I guess were configured in terms of volume of the Woolworth Building). All-in-all, the visualization got its point across pretty effectively.
While looking through a volume of Scientific American (January-July 1917) for a technical reference on the newly battlefield-introduced tank ( I could find none) I stumbled upon this intriguing info-graphic for American Telephone and Telegraph. This of course is from at least seven decades before the concept of "wire" started to lose its shine in communications, and decades after the second "T"--for "telegraph"-- in "A.T.&T." lost most if not all of its meaning. This interesting half-page ad displays the total amount of telephone and telegraph wire and cable in the A.T.&T. system--enough to reach from the Earth to the Moon and back again, 40 times (which is about correct calculating from the perigee).
[Source: Scientific American, June 23 weekly issue.]
I wasn't looking for this--or anything else in particular--while browsing the year 1917 in Popular Mechanics, though when I came across it and noticed that tank was in parenthesis, it occurred to me that there was good reason for that. The "tank" was brand new on the battlefield when this issue of the magazine came out in May, 1917. The tank had made its first showing just weeks earlier in April, and had really only just come into its abbreviated name. The committee formed in February 1915 to spearhead the development of a new armored fighting vehicle was called the Landships Committee, and as one story goes, the vehicle was called a "tank" because of its resemblance to a water tank--also, it was intended to misdirect any information going the wrong way by not referring to it as a "landship", which would give away some of the secrecy. It should be noted too that it was the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, who established the committee. So what we see here on page 683 of the May 1917 issue of Popular Mechanics is a very early photograph of the tank in a mass distribution magazine.
The tank hit the battlefield pretty hard, and it evidently took the Germans by surprise--they certainly captured many more tanks than they produced, by far. During the war, from 1916-18, Germany produced only 20 tanks. In that same period, the U.S. produced 84, while the French constructed nearly 5,000 and Great Britain 3,800 or so. Germany was completely unprepared for heavy armored mobile combat--that would be a completely different story by 1939.
I've attached a photo of German soldiers with captured British tanks being hauled away on railroad flatbeds--no doubt these were photographic postcards. Seems to me highly plausible that Germany would employ more captured British tanks on the battlefield than they would German-made tanks.
[Source: wiki source-- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanks_in_World_War_I#/media/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-P1013-313,_Westfront,_erbeutete_englische_Tanks.jpg]
See this interesting table on tank production for WWI: http://landships.activeboard.com/t35439129/total-number-of-tanks-usedproduced-per-nation-1916-1918/
This invention/innovation looks coy and sweet today, but it actually addressed an issue in 1917. This was the year that "Hollywood production" in movies really begins, though there was already an explosion of movie houses in the U.S., "Hollywood" or not. Cinemas were plentiful and packed, and from the numbers I've seen already in 1917 50% of Americans were going to the movies several times a month--this number would top out in the 30's when it approach nearly 70%. So ushers standing at points throughout a movie house finding stray seats for people being held back by the doorman could have signaled the number of available seats with his lighted fingers, and moved the waiting line along more quickly than a lot of whispered back-and-forth strolls around the house.
The walking stick continued to be a "thing"--a gentleman's pursuit of gentlemanliness, of refinement, or culture, or style, and so on--deep into the 19th century. And as we can see in this sample from the Scientific American Supplement for November 26, 1892, people were interested not only in sticks but also in what other things the cane could do for them while perhaps aiding them in walking. Some ideas are sort of good, while others, not so. An example of the later might be the following--using your cane head as a cigar holder allowing you to smoke your stogie through the beak of a duck:
Other hidden additions to the cane were not such bad ideas, like the emergency supplies for a physician; and I guess if you going to carrying a cane for show or if you actually needed a cane to help your walk, having the cane serve another purpose was probably a good idea, or at the very least gave a cane-maker something to do beyond making a simple cane.
I did have a quick look at patents for walking sticks for 1875-1925 and found that there were a number of varied patents for walking sticks with umbrellas and stools lodged inside them, which makes sense. There were a number of stick-additions that you'd expect--like that for guns, booze holders, and rulers--and then a number of unexpected contrivances, like music stands, pool cues, fishing rods, soil testers, musical instruments, cameras, lamps, a combo gun-umbrella-fishing rod, and one of my favorites, the flag pole:
[Source, Google Patents: https://www.google.com/patents/US833320?dq=walking+stick&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj3xb3BlpvNAhUGTSYKHeJ6ADMQ6wEINDAD]