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How High is Blue? (1851)

JF Ptak Science Books   Quick Post

What struck me in this technical illustration is the cross-section of the ocean of air, and the attempt to depict the characteristics of the atmosphere in receding qualities of blueness. This seems a natural thing to attempt, but I can’t really remember seeing anything quite like this from the mid-19th century–sure there there are images showing the height of the atmosphere, but I just can’t recall the point being made in shades of blue. The image itself is a large detail from “Illustrations of Natural Philosophy, Pneumatics”, a colored lithograph by John Philipps Emslie, and made in 1851.  This copy is from the Wellcome Collection, London, and try as I might I have not yet been able to find out in what book (if any) in which this work was published. Emslie was very active, and composed a number of complicated technical and data visualization efforts like this one, but I can’t yet find publication details.  In the meantime, I’m posting this, concentrating on the atmosphere.


RIP Cassini: A Space Art Obituary

“Cassini Spacecraft Makes its Final Approach to Saturn” (artist’s rendering courtesy NASA)

After almost 20 years of collecting data on the sixth planet, the Cassini spacecraft plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere on September 15, leaving behind a wealth of photos and data, the most exciting of which point to the possibility of life on Enceladus, one of its many moons. As a tribute to Cassini and the valuable information it found on its mission, we decided to compile a timeline of its most significant events and discoveries, juxtaposed with the outer-space-related artworks created here on Earth in that same period of time.


Cassini (with the Huygens probe attached) is launched from Cape Canaveral aboard a Titan IVB/Centaur rocket early on the morning of October 15.


Environmentalists Proclaim Great Pacific Garbage Patch a Country, Design National Identity

Passport for Trash Isles, designed by Mario Kerkstra and illustrated by Jurgen Willbarth (all images courtesy Trash Isles)

It’s a mass of garbage roughly as large as France that floats in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean, formed over years as ocean currents gather plastics and other debris from around the world in one spot. And now, environmentalists have launched a creative campaign to have The Great Pacific Garbage Patch recognized as an official country as a means to get it cleaned up.

On World Oceans Day, the Plastic Oceans Foundation and British entertainment website LADbible submitted an application for nationhood to the United Nations, claiming that world leaders would have to cooperate to eradicate the floating pollution as per the UN’s environmental charters. As their proposal is still under consideration, the team is creating everything an official country needs, from a currency and passport to a flag and stamps. All designed products illustrate grim scenes of environmental degradation and proudly bear the name of the proposed nation: The Trash Isles.


This Nurse Paints With a Syringe in Her Free Time

Nurses have to use syringes all day long, so it’s no wonder that when nurse Kimberly Joy Mallo Magbauna decided to start painting during her free time, she opted to use a tool she had already mastered at work. 

Her cool creations require filling syringes up with paint and then squeezing it onto the canvas in thin, controlled splatters. The results are beautiful, intricate and entirely unique. 

You can see more of her work on her Facebook page or at Bored Panda.

Via Incredible Things

By: Neatorama
Via: Feedbin Starred Entries

Black and White Photographs by Laurence Bouchard

Un jeu d’ombre peut en dire long sur le contexte d’une photographie. Et ça, la photographe Laurence Bouchard l’a bien compris. Implantée au Japon, elle scrute le moindre mouvement des passants, du salarymen au policier, et interprète leur histoire avec une clairvoyante subjectivité.

By: Fubiz Media
Via: Feedbin Starred Entries

Earliest Known Zero Symbol Identified in Ancient Indian Manuscript

Deatil of the Bakhshali manuscript, with a dot used in the bottom line, a placeholder that is recognized as the earliest zero symbol (courtesy Bodleian Libraries/ University of Oxford)
Deatil of the Bakhshali manuscript, with a dot used in the bottom line, a placeholder that is recognized as the earliest zero symbol (courtesy Bodleian Libraries/ University of Oxford)

Radiocarbon testing has revealed that an Indian manuscript thought to date to the 9th century is actually centuries older and contains the earliest known zero symbol. The discovery was first reported by the Guardian on September 13, which noted that hundreds of zeroes are included on the 70 pieces of birch mark that make up the Bakhshali manuscript.

The analysis was commissioned by the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries, where the Bakhshali manuscript has been housed since 1902. The mathematics manuscript, now dated to the 3rd or 4th century, was found in 1881 in a field of the Bakhshali village, in today’s Pakistan. It’s believed that the text, inscribed in a version of Sanskrit, was a practice manual for Silk Road merchants. Next month, a folio from the manuscript will go on view at the Science Museum in London as part of Illuminating India: 5000 Years of Science and Innovation.