Tag Archives: history

Leonardo Da Vinci needs a job

I can also make a kind of cannon which is light and easy of transport, with which to hurl small stones like hail, and of which the smoke causes great terror to the enemy, so that they suffer heavy loss and confusion.

Job application for an engineering position in the 15th century. By the way, the application was accepted.

Ole Roemer and the Speed of Light

Roemer knew that the true orbital period of Io could have nothing to do with the relative positions of the Earth and Jupiter. In a brilliant insight, he realized that the time difference must be due to the finite speed of light. That is, light from the Jupiter system has to travel farther to reach the Earth when the two planets are on opposite sides of the Sun than when they are closer together. Romer estimated that light required twenty-two minutes to cross the diameter of the Earth’s orbit. The speed of light could then be found by dividing the diameter of the Earth’s orbit by the time difference.
more on amnh.org

How to calculate the speed of light using observations from a simple telescope.

Beware the Alan Turing fetish

Sure, Turing was damned important (I wouldn’t have campaigned for recognition if I didn’t think so), and his contributions to computer science, AI, code-breaking and morphogenesis were massive. But to think his death is somehow why Silicon Valley isn’t in Britain is a mistake.
more on blog.jgc.org

It’s good to know that there are more places than Poland and Berlin afflicted with the Silicon Valley complex.

US Air Force’s 1950s supersonic flying saucer declassified

The aircraft, which had the code name Project 1794, was developed by the USAF and Avro Canada in the 1950s. One declassified memo, which seems to be the conclusion of initial research and prototyping, says that Project 1794 is a flying saucer capable of “between Mach 3 and Mach 4,” (2,300-3,000 mph) a service ceiling of over 100,000 feet (30,500m), and a range of around 1,000 nautical miles (1,150mi, 1850km).

The target specs of this unrealized flying vessel are more outrageous than its shape.

To My Old Master

Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.

A letter written in 1865 by an emancipated slave to his former master. It feels now like it’s from a different universe.

Cosmonaut Crashed Into Earth ‘Crying In Rage’ : Krulwich Wonders…

On launch day, April 23, 1967, a Russian journalist, Yaroslav Golovanov, reported that Gagarin showed up at the launch site and demanded to be put into a spacesuit, though no one was expecting him to fly. Golovanov called this behavior “a sudden caprice,” though afterward some observers thought Gagarin was trying to muscle onto the flight to save his friend. The Soyuz left Earth with Komarov on board.
more on npr.org

Moving story of Vladimir Komarov, a soviet cosmonaut.

Steve Heller hunts down a Nazi graphics standards manual

Published in 1936, The Organizationsbuch der NSDAP (with subsequent annual editions), detailed all aspects of party bureaucracy, typeset tightly in German Blackletter. What interested me, however, were the over 70 full-page, full-color plates (on heavy paper) that provide examples of virtually every Nazi flag, insignia, patterns for official Nazi Party office signs, special armbands for the Reichsparteitag (Reichs Party Day), and Honor Badges. The book “over-explains the obvious” and leaves no Nazi Party organization question, regardless of how minute, unanswered.

Axiological concerns aside, distinctive brands are not born accidentally.