Category: Archive

Archive of favourited posts from various places.

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Take a guided tour of HMS Erebus

Last year Parks Canada released a minute of the video taken by the remote operated vehicle which found the HMS Erebus and a minute of the film taken by divers when they discovered the ship’s bell was included in a brief video about the recovery and analysis of the bell, but other than that, we’ve only had a few photographs of the wreck.

On Thursday, VIP visitors to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto got an unexpected treat when what they thought would be a few minutes of recorded footage of the new Erebus ice dive turned out to be a live broadcast of a dive to the wreck complete with narration by underwater archaeologist Ryan Harris. The ROM event was attended by government types like Treasury Board president Tony Clement and parliamentary secretary to the Minister of the Environment Colin Carrie and by an extremely lucky seventh grade geography class from University of Toronto Schools. After the video tour, they were able to ask questions about the ship to diver Marc-Andre Bernier.

Now Parks Canada has released a recording of that live stream so those of who are neither government officials nor in the seventh grade can get their first long, hard look at the wreck of the HMS Erebus. It shows Harris, supported by an off-screen Leading Seaman Caleb Hooper, moving from stern to bow pointing out areas and artifacts of interest like the bronze six-pound cannons, the tracks that allowed the crew to lift the screw propeller out of the water when ice was heavy, the quarterdeck, the ship’s very long tiller, the capstand, the remains of the mainmast and the port side bilge pump.

The quality of the picture is excellent, thanks in part to the two feet of ice on the surface that block waves and allow particulate matter to sink to the seafloor. There are moments when it’s a bit dark down there, what with it being 36 feet deep under a thick ice sheet, but you can still see what Harris is describing just fine. The video is just short of 10 minutes long (time totally flies, though, so don’t let that daunt you) and ends a little abruptly which I hope means there will be a part two released soon.

The dives only began last week because they were delayed by bad weather and are expected to continue through Friday. There’s a photo gallery of the Erebus base camp, the triangular holes cut into the ice sheet, the blocks of ice removed after being cut out and more here. Also, Parks Canada Archaeology tweeted this amazing picture of a tent shot from the hole in the ice.

Here’s the video about the HMS Erebus bell released in November 2014. It’s short but awesome:


By: The History Blog
Via: Feedbin Starred Entries

The R 101–a Great British Airship, 1929

JF Ptak Science Books  Quick Post                                                                                                            Follow Me on Pinterest 

The R 101 was one of the largest lighter-than-air airships ever created.  The ship was still about a year away from its maiden flight when this popular survey was published in the Illustrated London News on March 29, 1929–unfortunately this flight would also be its last, finding disaster over France on October 5, 1930. The airship was 777′ long, 140′ high, and had a volume of about 5 million cubic feet, and operated with a crew of 42–a big object.  

R 101 airship898 R 101 airship900

And the detail of the sleeping quarters:

R 101 airship899
And the text:

R 101 airship902


R 101 airship901

By: Ptak Science Books
Via: Feedbin Starred Entries

A Beautiful Naval Cross-Section of Superb Detail, 1851

JF Ptak Science Books   Quick Post

Ship cross section 1810906

J.G. Heck wrote and compiled a fascinating, complex, and magisterial work called The Iconographic Encyclopedia of Science, Literature and Art, which was published in America for the first time in 1851 following Spencer Baird’s translation from its original German (Bilder atlas zum conversations lexicon…)

The key to his work is the amount of data displayed on each of the 500 engraved plates illustrating this work and the way in which it is arranged.  The design and layout of the 30,000 items on these 500 plates was a work of genius, and for my money it is easily the best-presented complex means of the display of data and objects that was published in the 19th century.   

In this sample (on one sheet of paper) we see three views of a naval war ship (of at least 24 guns) showing above-deck fore and aft, and then a fantastic cutaway/cross-section showing the four decks below deck.  To my experience the technical cut-away is not a common thing to encounter in the 19th century 9or before), and this one happens to be tight, very compact, very detailed, and for all of that quite small.  The entire print measures 12×9″, with the cross section being only about 2.5″ tall.  

I’ve concentrated on one figure at the center-bottom of the engraving, a man four decks down who seems to be shoveling out the horse stalls.  In the print he’s about 1/4″ tall, but as you can see scanned in high resolution it turns out that the artist/engraver gave some fair amount of effort to this tiny figure, which is an impressive act of craftsmanship. He even has a collar:

Ship cross section 1810907


And the full engraving:

Ship cross section 1810903

And the detail of the fore/aft sections:

Ship cross section 1810904

Ship cross section 1810905



By: Ptak Science Books
Via: Feedbin Starred Entries