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WWI Photography Catalog

The Fine Print

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"Despite his protests at other scientists copying his ideas, it appears that Hooke was not above plagiarism himself, as the writer Brian J. Ford has pointed out. At the top of Scheme VIII, a plate depicting ice crystals drawn from life, Hooke depicts a group of snowflakes [shown below]. Ford claims that these images were not in fact drawn by Hooke, but copied from a book by the Danish scientist Thomas Bartholin (1616-1680), entitled De Nivis usu Medico Observationes Variae, published four years earlier in 1661. These images were the first illustrations of snowflakes which appeared to present them in magnified form. However, as most of these images bear little resemblance to ice crystals in nature, they appear to be stylised caricatures or artistic impressions of what snowflakes might actually look like under magnification. As Ford observes, despite Hooke’s complaint that contemporaries frequently misappropriated his work, his silent adoption of Bartholin’s snowflakes in Micrographia suggests how unstable the concept of intellectual property was in the early modern world as well as the variety of second-hand materials that contributed to the authority of an‚ objective scientific investigation."
[Univ. of Reading librarian, 2008]

Sorry: search on a few words from that spiel for the source pdf link (for some reason I can't actually extract the link from the google results page).
I'm not saying I agree or disagree; merely that I'd come across it before.

ps. I love the snowflake--fort design idea, but alas, the 'correlation and causation' maxim always gets in the way of a good theory.

John Ptak

No, you're right, PK, about Hooke and his borrowing. Perhaps he thought he was "owed" one for all of the stuff that had been "borrowed" from him over the years--real and imaginary, there was quite a bit in that later category. I don't know why he got so heavy-handed and sticky-fingered with Bartholin, but he did. Somewhere in this blog I've actually addressed that issue, with a bit of sympathy I think; but now I can't remember. He was a forever-sick man, seemingly without friends outside of the coffee house, as big as a stick, with not a good public demeanor, and not pretty, and with no unpaid-for love life. I do recall that as important as the man was in England at this time, and for so many decades, there wasn't a portait of him painted from life. Perhaps he felt "owed" on this one. I've tried to feel some sympathy for thi sman, but it is a hard road.

Ray Girvan

Palmanova is an amazing structure. I was brought up in a fortified town - see http://segalbooks.blogspot.com/2009/08/fortifications.html - though I didn't remotely appreciate the history at the time. The Palmerston forts built in southern England from around 1860 (worries about French invasion) did attempt to adjust fort design and tactics to new weapons technology. Whether it would have worked is uncertain. The similarly-designed Belgian fortresses didn't significantly impede German advance in World War 1 (they were vulnerable to the latest heavy mortars) which was why the French didn't bother to much defend the also similar Verdun forts.

John Ptak

Fascinating story! Growing up in NYC/Staten Island I didn't get a great big taste of this sort of history, though if you looked hard enough (on SI) you could find the old Dutch history. The Battery, though, and stuff like it, are long gone.

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