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1838: The first photograph of a human being…(credit Mashable )   1 comment

1838: The first photograph of a human being.

1838

The first photograph of a human being

by Amanda Uren

This picture, the earliest known photograph to include a recognizable human form, was taken in Paris, France, in 1838 by Louis Daguerre. The human in question is standing in the bottom-left of the photograph, on the pavement by the curve in the road.  He is having his boots shined.

1838

IMAGE: PUBLIC DOMAIN VIA WIKIPEDIA

I have seized the light. I have arrested its flight.
LOUIS DAGUERRE, 1839

The exposure time for the image was around seven minutes, and although the street would have been busy with traffic and pedestrians, it appears deserted. Everything moving was too fast to register on the plate.

The exception is the man at the lower-left who sat still long enough to appear in the photograph. The person cleaning his boots is also visible, although not as distinctly.

It has been speculated that instead of a shoeshine boy, the man stood at a a pump. However, comparison with another image taken by Daguerre of the same spot at noon reveals boxes used to hold brushes and polishes.

Like every Daguerreotype — the first publicly announced photographic process, and named after Daguerre — the photograph was a mirror image.  Here is the image reversed back to show the view as Daguerre saw it:

IMAGE: PUBLIC DOMAIN VIA WIKIPEDIA

The street is the Boulevard du Temple, part of a fashionable area of shops, cafés and theaters. It was nicknamed the “Boulevard du Crime” because of the many crime melodramas playing in its theaters. It later lost many of these when Baron Haussmann, under the instructions of Napoleon III, remodeled and modernized Paris, removing the narrow, dark and dangerous streets of the medieval city and replacing them with parks and open spaces. This process began in 1853.

While the man having his boots shined and the person doing the shining are the most recognizable human figures, a very detailed examination of the photograph reveals other possible people:

The man having his boots shined, and the person doing the shining

IMAGE: PUBLIC DOMAIN VIA WIKIPEDIA

Two women and a cart or pram near the shoeshine boy

IMAGE: PUBLIC DOMAIN VIA WIKIPEDIA

A child’s face in the window of the white building

IMAGE: PUBLIC DOMAIN VIA WIKIPEDIA

A child and a dog, on the opposite side of the street

IMAGE: PUBLIC DOMAIN VIA WIKIPEDIA

Vaguer images of other people, also on the other side of the street

IMAGE: PUBLIC DOMAIN VIA WIKIPEDIA

…and also the image of a rug hanging from a balcony

IMAGE: PUBLIC DOMAIN VIA WIKIPEDIA

These ephemeral figures are hard to see because the original image photographic plate itself measured only 6.5 inches by 8.5 inches.

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Posted November 5, 2014 by arnoneumann in History, Photography

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The Greatest Maps in History, Collected in One Fantastic Book | WIRED   Leave a comment

The Greatest Maps in History, Collected in One Fantastic BookThe Greatest Maps in History, Collected in One Fantastic Book | WIRED.

Maps are more than a measure of space; they are also records of how humans have understood, examined, and reconsidered the earth throughout history. In his new book, Great Maps, Jerry Brotton uses over 60 milestones to guide us through our cartographic heritage.

“A map is about space, but it is also an object in time,” said Brotton, a professor of Renaissance studies at Queen Mary College in London. They tell stories: how far-reaching the borders were of a great civilization, or what another culture believed about Earth’s place in the cosmos. For Brotton, some of the most fascinating map stories are about how humans have solved complex cartographic problems.

For instance, measuring space is an innovation we often take for granted, but it was a problem solved over great swaths of time and in several different cultures. No matter when or where they were born, sailors have always needed tools to help them travel safely from one place to another, and this has consistently been one of the biggest motivators for creating accurate methods of measurement. In the west, this evolved with Ptolemaic lines of latitude and longitude, compasses, and lines of bearing like those in the Carte Pisan (image 11 in the gallery). Other cultures had their own, no less ingenious ways of solving the challenges of ocean navigation, such as the stick charts that Pacific Islanders used to colonize hundreds of remote islands (image 5).

Brotton explains that he took special care in choosing the maps in his book so he could emphasize the importance of these stories. “When you make a book called Great Maps, there is a central spine of maps that people in the field expect to see,” he explains, listing Ptolemy‘s and Mercator‘s maps as canonical examples. “But alongside those I wanted to tell other stories,” he says. In this a way, Great Maps is a broader, illustrated successor to Brotton’s last book of cartographic history, A History of the World in 12 Maps. The recurring theme in both is that maps, in a addition to showing geographic information, also betray the values and biases of their makers.

“European maps are known for being more objective and scientific than the other great mapping cultures,” he said, which is a by-product of the European nations’ colonial ambitions. “But Islamic culture was much less concerned with colonizing new territory, and their maps emphasize a consolidation of the empire and its cultural ideas.” Similarly, Chinese and Korean cultures were relatively insular, and their maps tend to focus on cultural harmony. Because the landscape was believed to affect this harmony, those cultures’ maps paid special attention to the arrangement of rivers and other natural features, Brotton says.

Each culture had its own word for these tools that look at the world from above. In the West, ‘map,’ comes from the Latin ‘mappa,’ which means cloth or napkin. In Arabic a map is ‘surah’ —a figure—and in Chinese it’s ‘tu’—usually meaning a diagram. “All these words describe slightly different manifestations of what we in the modern west designate as a map,” he said. “And, they’re all connected to how those cultures view the world.” “

Posted October 13, 2014 by arnoneumann in History, Maps

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Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris (January 29–May 4, 2014) – YouTube   Leave a comment

Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris (January 29–May 4, 2014) – YouTube.

“Widely acknowledged as one of the most talented photographers of the nineteenth century, Charles Marville (French, 1813–1879) was commissioned by the city of Paris to document both the picturesque, medieval streets of old Paris and the broad boulevards and grand public structures that Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann built in their place for Emperor Napoleon III. This exhibition presents a selection of around one hundred of his photographs.

Marville achieved moderate success as an illustrator of books and magazines early in his career. It was not until 1850 that he shifted course and took up photography—a medium that had been introduced just eleven years earlier. His poetic urban views, detailed architectural studies, and picturesque landscapes quickly garnered praise. Although he made photographs throughout France, Germany, and Italy, it was his native city—especially its monuments, churches, bridges, and gardens—that provided the artist with his greatest and most enduring source of inspiration.

By the end of the 1850s, Marville had established a reputation as an accomplished and versatile photographer. From 1862, as official photographer for the city of Paris, he documented aspects of the radical modernization program that had been launched by Emperor Napoleon III and his chief urban planner, Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann. In this capacity, Marville photographed the city’s oldest quarters, and especially the narrow, winding streets slated for demolition. Even as he recorded the disappearance of Old Paris, Marville turned his camera on the new city that had begun to emerge. Many of his photographs celebrate its glamour and comforts, while other views of the city’s desolate outskirts attest to the unsettling social and physical changes wrought by rapid modernization.

Haussmann not only redrew the map of Paris, he transformed the urban experience by commissioning and installing tens of thousands of pieces of street furniture, kiosks, and Morris columns for posting advertisements, pissoirs, garden gates, and, above all, some twenty thousand gas lamps. By the time he stepped down as prefect in 1870, Paris was no longer a place where residents dared to go out at night only if accompanied by armed men carrying lanterns. Taken as a whole, Marville’s photographs of Paris stand as one of the earliest and most powerful explorations of urban transformation on a grand scale.

By the time of his death, Marville had fallen into relative obscurity, with much of his work stored in municipal or state archives. This exhibition, which marks the bicentennial of Marville’s birth, explores the full trajectory of the artist’s photographic career and brings to light the extraordinary beauty and historical significance of his art.

http://www.CharlieRose.com

 

Posted March 18, 2014 by arnoneumann in History, Paris, Photography

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Lost and Found: The Secrets of Archimedes reveals texts from the ancient world discovered by conserving and imaging The Archimedes Palimpsest   Leave a comment

“Discoveries in The Archimedes Palimpsest

Archimedes, in his treatise The Method of Mechanical Theorems, works with the concept of absolute infinity, and this Palimpsest contains the only surviving copy of this important treatise. He claims that two different sets of lines are equal in multitude, even though it is clearly understood that they are infinite. This approach is remarkably similar to 16th- and 17th-century works leading to the invention of the calculus.

Also found only in the Palimpsest is Archimedes’ Stomachion.  It is the earliest existing western treatise concerning combinatorics. It is thought that Archimedes was trying to discover how many ways you could recombine 14 fixed pieces and still make a perfect square. The answer is high and counterintuitive at 17,152 combinations. Combinatorics is critical in modern computing.

In addition to Archimedes’ works, six other erased books of history and philosophy were discovered. Twenty pages of the Palimpsest were created from the erased texts of ten pages from a manuscript containing speeches by Hyperides, an Athenian orator from the golden age of Greek democracy. Twenty-eight pages were from the erased text of 14 pages containing a Commentary on the Categories of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. Aristotle’s Categories is a fundamental text to western philosophy. This commentary survives nowhere else.

When the Palimpsest was imaged at SSRL, the name of the scribe that erased Archimedes’ writings was discovered on the first page of the Palimpsest. His name was Johannes Myronas, and he finished transcribing the prayers on April 14, 1229, in Jerusalem.

via Lost and Found: The Secrets of Archimedes, opening at the Walters Oct. 16, 2011, reveals texts from the ancient world discovered by conserving and imaging The Archimedes Palimpsest.

AN : an arduous task and facinating story and exhibit at The Walters Art Museum in Balimore Maryland,USA. Innovation that goes back to Archimedes time (0212 BC ) and 1229 AD and 1998 AD :

“Archimedes lived in the Greek city of Syracuse in the third century B.C. He was a brilliant mathematician, physicist, inventor, engineer and astronomer. In 10th-century Constantinople (present day Istanbul), an anonymous scribe copied the Archimedes treatise in the original Greek onto parchment. In the 13th century, a monk erased the Archimedes text, cut the pages along the center fold, rotated the leaves 90 degrees and folded them in half. The parchment was then recycled, together with the parchment of other books, to create a Greek Orthodox prayer book. This process is called palimpsesting; the result of the process is a palimpsest.

On Oct. 28, 1998, The Archimedes Palimpsest was purchased at Christie’s by an anonymous collector for two million dollars. It is considered by many to be the most important scientific manuscript ever sold at auction because it contains Archimedes’ erased texts.

“The collector deposited the Palimpsest at the Walters for conservation, imaging, study and exhibition in 1999, but many thought that nothing more could be recovered from this book. It was in horrible condition, having suffered a thousand years of weather, travel and abuse,” said Archimedes Project Director and Walters Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books Will Noel. “Detailed detective work and the serendipitous discovery of important documents and photographs allowed us to reconstruct what happened to the Palimpsest in the 20th century, when it was subject to appalling treatment and overpainted with forgeries. A team of devoted scholars using the latest imaging technology was able to reveal and decipher the original text.”

Before imaging could begin, the manuscript had to be stabilized. Conserving the manuscript took 12 years, including four years just to take the book apart due to the fragile nature of parchment damaged by mold and a spine covered in modern synthetic glue.

“I documented everything and saved all of the tiny pieces from the book, including paint chips, parchment fragments and thread, and put them into sleeves so we knew what pages they came from,” said Abigail Quandt, Walters senior conservator of manuscripts and rare books. “I stabilized the flaking ink on the parchment using a gelatin solution, made innumerable repairs with Japanese paper and reattached separated folios.”

In 2000, a team began recovering the erased texts. They used imaging techniques that rely on the processing of different wavelengths of infrared, visible and ultraviolet light in a technique called multispectral imaging. By employing different processing techniques, including Principal Components Analysis, text was exposed that had not been seen in a thousand years.

By 2004, about 80% of the manuscript had been imaged. The most difficult pages left were covered with a layer of grime or 20th-century painted forgeries. These leaves were brought to the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL), one of the most advanced light laboratories in the world, where a tiny but powerful x-ray beam scanned the leaves. The x-rays detected and recorded where beams bounced off iron atoms, and since the ink of the Palimpsest’s under text is written with iron, the writing on the page could be mapped. This enabled scholars to read large sections of previously hidden text.”

http://goo.gl/swzPb

Posted December 14, 2012 by arnoneumann in History, Mathamatics

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Dura-Europos, a Melting Pot at the Intersection of Empires – NYTimes.com   Leave a comment

“In its time and place, the ancient city of Dura-Europos had much in common with today’s most cosmopolitan urban landscapes. Religious, linguistic and cultural diversity characterized much of the city’s life for more than 500 years, starting at the outset of the third century B.C. in what is now Syria.

Greek, Aramaic, Latin, Parthian, Middle Persian and Hebrew — all of these languages were used concurrently throughout the society, according to inscriptions and graffiti uncovered by archaeologists. A temple altar epitomizes the multiculturalism: The inscription is in Greek, and a man with a Latin name and a Greek-titled office in the Roman army is shown presenting an offering to Iarhibol, a god of the migrants from the old Syrian caravan city of Palmyra.

New Yorkers would have felt at home in the grid pattern of streets, where merchants lived, scribes wrote and Jews worshiped in the same block, not far from a Christian house-church as well as shrines to Greek and Palmyrene deities. Scholars said the different religious groups seemed to maintain their distinct identities.

An exhibition of prized and quotidian artifacts from Dura-Europos, “Edge of Empires: Pagans, Jews, and Christians at Roman Dura-Europos,” is on view through Jan. 8 at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. The objects — notably art from antiquity’s best-preserved synagogue, and evocative photographs of the buried city’s excavations — are on loan from the Yale University Art Gallery.

“As a city of extraordinary cultural diversity,” said Jennifer Y. Chi, an archaeologist and the exhibition’s chief curator, “Dura-Europos has great resonance for the modern world, where multiculturalism shapes the very nature and quality of daily life.” “

via Dura-Europos, a Melting Pot at the Intersection of Empires – NYTimes.com.

Posted December 20, 2011 by arnoneumann in History

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