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Posts Tagged ‘atlas

“Few things are more enjoyable than lingering over the atlas and plotting a trip”*…

 

atlas of outer space

 

I’m excited to finally share a new design project this week! Over the past year and a half I’ve been working on a collection of ten maps on planets, moons, and outer space. To name a few, I’ve made an animated map of the seasons on Earth, a map of Mars geology, and a map of everything in the solar system bigger than 10km…

Data visualizer extraordinaire Eleanor Lutz has announced “An Atlas of Space.”

Follow her progress on her blog Tabletop Whale, or on Twitter or Tumblr.

[TotH to Kottke]

* J. Maarten Troost

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As we see stars, we might spare a thought for Daniel Kirkwood; he died on this date in 1895. Kirkwood’s most significant contribution came from his study of asteroid orbits. When arranging the then-growing number of discovered asteroids by their distance from the Sun, he noted several gaps, now named Kirkwood gaps in his honor, and associated these gaps with orbital resonances with the orbit of Jupiter.  Further, Kirkwood also suggested a similar dynamic was responsible for Cassini Division in Saturn’s rings, as the result of a resonance with one of Saturn’s moons.  In the same paper, he was the first to correctly posit that the material in meteor showers is cometary debris.

Kirkwood also identified a pattern relating the distances of the planets to their rotation periods, which was called Kirkwood’s Law. This discovery earned Kirkwood an international reputation among astronomers; he was dubbed “the American Kepler” by Sears Cook Walker, who claimed that Kirkwood’s Law proved the widely held Solar Nebula Theory.  (In the event, the “Law” has since become discredited as new measurements of planetary rotation periods have shown that the pattern doesn’t hold.)

Daniel_Kirkwood source

 

“The Bible shows the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go”*…

 

cellarius-seasons-banner-1024x689

 

Harmonia Macrocosmica (1660), an atlas of the stars from the Dutch Golden Age of cartography, maps the structure of the heavens in twenty-nine extraordinary double-folio spreads. We are presented with the motions of the celestial bodies, the stellar constellations of the northern hemisphere, the old geocentric universe of Ptolemy, the newish heliocentric one of Copernicus [as above], and Tycho Brahe’s eccentric combination of the two — in which the Moon orbits the Earth, and the planets orbit the Sun, but the Sun still orbits the Earth. The marginal area of each brightly coloured map is a hive of activity: astronomers bent over charts debate their findings, eager youngsters direct their quadrants skywards, and cherubs fly about with pet birds in tow…

northern stars

The Northern Stellar Hemisphere of Antiquity

More marvelous maps of the heavens at “The Celestial Atlas of Andreas Cellarius (1660)

* Galileo (quoting a librarian at the Vatican)

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As we look to the stars, we might recall that it was on this date in 1843 that Sir William Rowan Hamilton conceived the theory of quaternions.  A physicist, astronomer, and mathematician who made important contributions to classical mechanics, optics, and algebra, he had been working since the late 1830s on the basic principles of algebra, resulting in a theory of conjugate functions, or algebraic couples, in which complex numbers are expressed as ordered pairs of real numbers.  But he hadn’t succeeded in developing a theory of triplets that could be applied to three-dimensional geometric problems.  Walking with his wife along the Royal Canal in Dublin, Hamilton realized that the theory should involve quadruplets, not triplets– at which point he stopped to carve carve the underlying equations in a nearby bridge lest he forget them.

 source

 

Written by LW

October 16, 2018 at 1:01 am

“All things are metaphors”*…

 

For much of the 17th century, Europeans believed that California was an island.  Indeed, readers who have suffered through your correspondent’s explanation of scenario planning know that a 17th century map in which California is depicted as an island, very like the one above, figures into the talk as an example of the way that incorrect maps– cartographical or mental maps– are hard to change and often lead us astray.

But as this appreciation of Stanford’s collection of California maps points out, there may be a deeper truth to the depiction:

The fact that a number of explorers knew that California was not an island was not enough to nip the idea in the bud. Yet it would be a shame to think of the idea as simply an error, a cartographical crease which needed ironing out. Even though maps may be presented as accurate, they cannot escape their metaphorical nature. They reflect much more than physical geography. That California was mapped as an island for so long speaks to its separateness. The writer Rebecca Solnit, a student of the Stanford maps, has argued that, “An island is anything surrounded by difference.” The state contains around 2,000 plant species found nowhere else. Its borders comprise dizzying mountains, harsh deserts and immense ocean. It has been home to the Gold Rush, the psychedelic era, the silicon boom. In several ways then, California is an island…

More (and more marvelous maps) at “Maps Showing California as an Island.”

* Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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As we remember that “the map is not the territory,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1570 that Gilles Coppens de Diest at Antwerp published Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum— a collection of 53 maps that is generally agreed to have been the first modern atlas.

Interestingly (for reasons explained in the article linked above), Ortelius’ maps, which pre-date the charts in the Stanford collection, portray California more accurately.

Title page from a 1606 edition

source

 

Written by LW

May 22, 2018 at 1:01 am

“It is wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago”*…

 

A page from Anna Heermans’ 1875 project, A Hieroglyphic Geography of the United States

These pages… tell little stories about the New England states and New York, in picture form. Published by E.P. Dutton & Co., a company that then specialized in juvenile texts, the pictorial atlas was intended for children’s use—an attempt to bring life to geographical information through imagery.

A rebus (the broad name for this type of writing system) replaces words, or parts of words, with pictures. To take one example, from the New Hampshire page:

Translation: “Mt Washington, the most elevated peak, is 6,234 feet high. The summit is an acre of comparatively level ground, upon which is the Tip Top House.”

More (and larger) examples, and a discussion their significance in the history of geographical education, at the redoubtable Rebecca Onion’s “Go Ahead, Try to Decode This 19th-Century Rebus Atlas of New England.”

* Dan Quayle, who might have avoided the gaffe had he paid more attention in geography class… or not.

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As we consult our maps, we might recall that it was on this date in 1919 that the first transcontinental air race in the U.S. got underway.  63 planes set out from Roosevelt Field on Long Island, vying to be the first to reach San Francisco, 5,400 miles away.  The winner, Belvin W. Maynard, an Army Lieutenant and Baptist preacher from North Carolina, reached the Presidio in his Havilland DH-4 (Named “Hello Frisco”) in just over three days. He and his two-man crew rested and serviced the plane for another three days; and then returned to Long Island in just under four days.  The victory made Maynard such a celebrity that the Army assigned him to PR and recruiting duty, and his native Winston-Salem named its first airfield for him.

Soon thereafter, however, Maynard fell afoul of the Army.  While delivering a series of both lectures and sermons in New York in November of 1919, the Flying Parson averred that many military airmen were accustomed to flying drunk, and that drunkenness had been the cause of the twelve deaths during a recent aerial derby.  In a sermon just days later, he condemned the women of New York for their lack of clothes and frivolous lifestyles.  The Army yanked him off of the publicity trail and discharged him.

 source

 

Written by LW

October 8, 2014 at 1:01 am

“A map does not just chart, it unlocks and formulates meaning; it forms bridges between here and there, between disparate ideas that we did not know were previously connected”*…

Just one of the scores of maps available at the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab’s Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States.

And as a (more global) bonus: Edward Quin’s 1830 Historical Atlas in a Series of Maps of the World as Known at Different Periods, with an Historical Narrative, featuring 21 plates that visually depicted what Quin called “the world as known at different periods.”  Dramatic clouds cover the “unknown,” rolling back slowly as time moves on.

output_UHrvyZ.gif.CROP.original-original

Click the image above or here for an enlarged and animated version of the  GIF that runs through the plates in sequence, from 2348 B.C., “The Deluge” (Quin, not unusually for his time period, was a Biblical literalist) through A.D. 1828, “End of the General Peace.”

* Reif Larsen, The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

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As we travel through time, we might recall that it was on this date in 1861 that New York City Mayor Fernando Wood, a “Copperhead” (sympathizer of the incipient Confederate cause), suggested to the New York City Council that New York secede and declare itself a free city, to continue its profitable cotton trade with the Confederacy.  Wood’s Democratic machine was concerned to maintain the revenues (which depended on Southern cotton) that maintained the patronage that provided its electoral margins.

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Written by LW

January 6, 2014 at 1:01 am

I was blind, but now I see…

Louisiana, bordering ‘Part of Mexico’ (later Texas) and ‘Arkansaw’

In 1825, the blind Frenchman Louis Braille developed a way for the sightless to read text. Improving on a flawed system of “night writing” originally commissioned for Napoleon’s army, he created a set of letters composed of six dots, which can be raised or not to denote the different letters of the alphabet.  Twelve years later, in America, an Atlas was published for the blind, a collection of 28 state maps composed of raised lines and dots.  As Frank Jacobs observes at Strange Maps:

The link between blindness and cartography makes more sense than one might think: spatial awareness – knowing where things are without necessarily seeing them – is a trait overdeveloped in blind people, making them especially sensitive to the geo-distributive [3] aspect of maps. As was apparent when blind children were taught to read these raised-relief maps in 1830s Boston:

“They soon understood that sheets of stiff pasteboard, marked by certain crooked lines, represented the boundaries of countries; rough raised dots represented mountains; pin heads sticking out here and there, showed the locations of towns; or, on a smaller scale, the boundaries of their own town, the location of the meeting-house, of their own and of the neighboring houses, and the like; and they were delighted and eager to go on with tireless curiosity. And they did go on until they matured in years, and became themselves teachers, first in our school, afterwards in a private school opened by themselves in their own town.”

The tactile maps shown here are taken from the Atlas of the United States Printed for the Use of the Blind, published in 1837. This precious, curious edition had a minuscule print run: no more than 50 copies were produced, for the New England Institute for the Education of the Blind [4]. Only five copies now survive…

Read more at Strange Maps; and see scans of the entire atlas at the extraordinary David Rumsey Map Collection.

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As we feel our way, we might send nihilist birthday greetings to Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche; he was born on this date in 1844.  A philosopher, poet, composer, cultural critic, and classical philologist, Nietzsche is probably best remembered for his concepts of the “death of God”, the Übermensch, the eternal recurrence, the Apollonian and Dionysian dichotomy, and the will to power… which, among them, have had an extraordinary impact on thinkers as diverse as  Martin Heidegger and Ayn Rand on the one hand, and Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida on the other.

When someone hides something behind a bush and looks for it again in the same place and finds it there as well, there is not much to praise in such seeking and finding. Yet this is how matters stand regarding seeking and finding “truth” within the realm of reason. If I make up the definition of a mammal, and then, after inspecting a camel, declare “look, a mammal’ I have indeed brought a truth to light in this way, but it is a truth of limited value.

– Über Wahrheit und Lüge im außermoralischen Sinn (On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense), 1873

 source

Written by LW

October 15, 2012 at 1:01 am

Starry, starry night (with jam)…

Sticking with the “handmade” theme of yesterday’s post, the extraordinary work of Catherine McEver, “Embroidered Wonder Bread“:

Catherine volunteers answers to two questions sure to be on readers’ lips:

How do you embroider Wonder Bread? Very, very carefully. How long do they last? I have a couple of slices that are over four years old that look just like new.

See more of her beautified bread here— and browse a wide variety of “art, textiles, and oddities” on her site Stuff You Can’t Have.

(TotH to GMSV)

As we try to find those thimbles, we might recall that it was on this date in 1570 that Gilles Coppens de Diest at Antwerp issued Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum– a collection of 53 maps that is generally agreed to have been the first modern atlas.

The World, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

Abraham Ortelius

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