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Posts Tagged ‘William Smith

“Eloquence is a painting of the thoughts”*…

 

San Callisto bread and fishes__1542403117405__w800

Fish and loaves fresco from the Catacombs of St. Callixto, Rome, c. 200. Christian iconography appeared in the first third of the third century. It quickly developed a clear vocabulary—an image of a fisherman represented Jesus Christ and the apostles, a fish under a breadbasket represented communion, and the superimposed Greek letters Χ (chi) and Ρ (rho), sometimes called the Christogram or monogram of Christ, represented Christ himself (Χ and Ρ are the first two letters in the Greek word for Christ, Christos). Early Christians used these and other symbols in mural paintings, catacomb frescoes, and sarcophagi carvings to label deceased Christians. Sixteen popes are buried in the catacombs of San Callixto, located on the Appian Way in Rome.

 

Although Éric de Grolier, the so-called Father of Information Systems in France, coined the term infographic in 1979, the history of the graphical representation of information stretches back much further. The history of the visualization of information is intrinsically tied to the history of human cognition, of technology, and of art and design. Human beings have used visuals for so many things: to communicate ideas and stories; to represent space, time, and the cosmos; to extrapolate and compare sets of data; to show connections and disparities; to teach complex concepts or succinctly display information. Visualizations—maps, diagrams, graphs—make arguments for how we should understand the world, and thereby teach us how to understand, organize, and make sense of complicated reality. These simplified versions of the world allow us to see things that are usually unseen: the borders between political jurisdictions, the hierarchy of an organization, or the relationship between the mortal plane and the afterlife…

A fascinating history of the visual expression of ideas: “Instead of Writing a Thousand Words, Part One: Ideas, Part Two: Maps, and Part Three: Data.”

* Blaise Pascal

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As we show, not tell, we might recall that it was on this date in 1796, at the Swan Inn in Dunkerton (England), that William Smith, a self-educated geologist, wrote in a single sentence his discovery of the mode of identifying strata by the organized fossils respectively imbedded therein (the theory of of stratigraphy)– now an axiomatic fact of modern geological knowledge.  He went on to publish (in 1799) the first large-scale geological map of the area around Bath, Somerset.

William_Smith_(geologist) source

 

Written by LW

January 5, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Beneath all the wealth of detail in a geological map lies an elegant, orderly simplicity”*…

 

This year is the 200th anniversary of the publication of William Smith’s extraordinary map, “A Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales with part of Scotland“– the first geological map to identify the layers of rock based on the fossils they contained rather than on their composition.

Smith revolutionized the study of geological time and the order of the succession of life, and established the founding principles for geological surveys worldwide; accordingly, he is considered the “Father of Stratigraphy.”  And as he helped British geology become a science, he is also known as the “Father of English Geology.”

More at “Two centuries of map-making – from William Smith’s survey to satellites,” and at the British Natural History Museum’s page on William Smith.

* Tuzo Wilson (one of the fathers of the theory of plate tectonics)

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As we think about the land in three (nay, four) dimensions, we might spare a thought for William Morris Davis; he died on this date in 1934.  A geographer, geologist, and meteorologist, his most substantial contribution was probably the development of geomorphology, the scientific study of landforms and their evolution.  Specifically, he described a “geographic cycle,” or “cycle of erosion,” explaining the way in which rivers create valleys and elevate land masses.  When Davis retired from Harvard in 1911, the study of landscape evolution was dominated by his theories. Since then, several facets of his theory have been superceded (in part by plate tectonics thinking, as advanced by Tuzo Wilson), though the evolutionary orientation of his theory still informs the field.

Davis was a founder of the Association of American Geographers in 1904, and heavily involved with the National Geographic Society in its early years.  He is considered the “father of American geography”; his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts is a National Landmark.

 source

 

Written by LW

February 5, 2015 at 1:01 am

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