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Press and Pop Culture

Newton Again, and Again, and Again

Two recent stories on Isaac Newton seem to point once again to our undying fascination with all things Newton. On the one hand, a pair of articles in The Guardian announce and then report on the auction of some partially burnt notes on measuring Egyptian pyramids. We are given a glimpse into the mind of […]

Categories
Historical Expertise

Art & Fear & Columbus

Perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not, Art & Fear. Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by Bayles and Orland contains a lot of useful information for professors and teachers and anybody trying to encourage others to think and express themselves creatively.[1] The book does a nice job bringing the process of making art out of […]

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Research

Aphorism 75 and the Challenges for a Critical Edition

Critical editions are incredibly handy. They transform historical artifacts into an easily read, generic version of some text. They smooth out differences between versions, they correct grammar, and they normalize orthography. The labors of intrepid and tireless editors save us untold time and energy.[1] But those same labors, those efforts to efface differences and to […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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.

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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 […]