Categories
History

Ghosts and the Society for Psychical Research

Sometime in the mid 1770s the German scholar Georg Christoph Lichtenberg predicted with a certain degree of optimism: Our world will yet become so intricate that it will be as ridiculous to believe in a god as it is nowadays to believe in ghosts.[1] Although Lichtenberg investigated electrical phenomena and is credited with discovering “Lichtenberg […]

Categories
Collections

Pre-Modern High Tech

Last month the Washington Post ran a short article by Erin Blakemore on medieval scientific instruments, “Think smartphones are astonishing? Discover the ‘high tech’ devices of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.” It was a little light on details, but nicely highlighted Epact, an on-line collection of pre-modern scientific instruments. It is easy while away […]

Categories
History

Chambers Full of Snakes

Thumbing through a couple early modern collections of secrets always turns up strange and fascinating techniques and recipes. Some seem obviously useful, such as how to make a candle burn under water or make one burn forever. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, recipes to treat wounds and restore health are common. We find numerous recipes about curing various […]

Categories
Exhibitions

Astronomy and Printing

The Printing Museum in Tokyo has what looks to be an amazing temporary exhibit right now on astronomy and print, aptly named “Astronomy and Printing. In search of new world vision.”[1] The exhibit brings together nearly 100 printed objects stretching from the 1450s to the 1870s.[2] In addition to showing an impressive range of items, […]