Categories
Press and Pop Culture

Alexa’s Flat Earth Joke

It has been too long since I complained about a reference to the flat earth. Conveniently, Amazon ran an ad during the Super Bowl for their Alexa™ “smart speaker” that used the flat earth as a joke. The ad opens with Ellen DeGeneres asking her Alexa to turn the temperature down in the house as […]

Categories
Quotation

Finding Ourselves

There are a thousand insidious ways in which you can come to identify with the object of study. … It’s reassuring, because identifying with something, no matter how it happens, offers a kind of relief. But it’s dangerous because this mirroring of the self stunts the imagination, inhibits the mind and stifles curiosity by confining […]

Categories
Historical Expertise

Myth vs. History

In a recent NY Times opinion piece Hallie Lieberman laments the persistence, prevalence, and perniciousness of a particular historical myth, i.e., the story of the invention of the vibrator as told in The Technology of Orgasm. The standard story is, according to Lieberman: A mutton-chopped, bow-tie-clad doctor stands in an operating theater, where the silhouette […]

Categories
Quotation

Encounter with death

…history remains first and foremost an encounter with death. A. Farge, The Allure of the Archive, 8

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Quotation

Archival Research

I am reminded of how much the setting for my archival research has become entwined with the discoveries I made at its tables. N. Zemon Davis, “Forward,” The Allure of the Archive (Yale, 2013), xiii.

Categories
Research

Byzantine Astrolabe (sort of)

In a fragment on the astrolabe attributed to John Kamateros are a handful of interesting diagrams illustrating the various parts of an astrolabe. Here is the diagram showing the rete. There is also diagram illustrating the plate, and two showing different views of the back of the instrument.

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Press and Pop Culture

Galileo In Vienna

In Vienna’s 13th district stands a beautiful Jugendstil building, the Galileihof. Designed by and built by Emil Reitmann in 1905, the building appears to have been renovated not long ago. Vienna is strangely committed to Galileo. In addition to the Galileihof, on the other side of town is the Galileigasse, which has a beautiful relief […]

Categories
Museums

Portrait of a Mathematician

The label identifies this painting as a portrait of Pierre Joseph de Rivaz, an 18th-century “Swiss mathematician, inventor and historian.” Rivaz is not particularly famous, and seems to be better known for his inventions than his mathematical achievements. Nonetheless, the label claims this is a “Portrait of a Mathematician.” Although there seems to be some […]

Categories
Literature & Scholarship

Don’t Try Pre-Modern Medicine at Home!

Yvette Hunt’s new translation of the Medicina Plinii is a welcome addition to the history of medicine, particularly for those who don’t have the linguistic training to read it in Latin.[1] I can imagine it finding a place in the unit on medicine in my Introduction to the History of Science. [2] While the text […]

Categories
Press and Pop Culture

Jimmy Kimmel & Galileo

A couple nights ago Jimmy Kimmel aired a segment that followed “Jake Byrd” at last fall’s Flat Earth Conference in Dallas. In true “Jake Byrd” fashion, he is quick witted and irreverent. But I am not particularly interested in Byrd’s performance or the content of the segment itself.1 I am more interested in Jimmy Kimmel’s […]