This photograph of Marie Curie can be found on postage stamps all over the world. But there’s one problem, this isn’t a picture of Marie Curie.
Image courtosey of Frontczak
It’s actually a photo of Susan Marie Frontczak, taken by Paul Schroder in 2001. Frontczak is a professional storyteller, writer and actor who for 14 years has made a living portraying Marie Curie on stage. It’s an authentic-looking photo. Frontczak and Schroder made a serious effort to reproduce the look of that era, get… »
Researcher baffled by document written by artillery master Franz Helm featuring pictures of jetpacks strapped to cats and doves
You’re a 16th century German prince plotting to crush a peasant rebellion, or perhaps you’re leading an army against the Ottoman Empire or settling a score with a rival nobleman. What’s a guy looking for a tactical edge to do?
The answer, of course, is rocket cats.
Fanciful illustrations from a circa-1530 manual on artillery and siege warfare seem to show jetpacks stra… »
My feed is full of stories about “three-parent babies” and whether they are a eugenic threat. Predictably, Art Caplan, the Neil deGrasse Tyson of bioethics, features prominently. A report on CNN quotes him heavily and he wrote an op-ed that was picked up by several news outlets. Caplan, more diplomatic than nuanced, says the technique could be scary […]
Listen to Big Science – Collider exhibition event by sciencemuseum: Historians Lisa Jardine and Jon Agar took part in a lively conversation about science and society since World War 2. This was part of the… | Explore the largest community of artists, bands, podcasters and creators of music & audio.
As Dr.Strangelove passes its 50th anniversary, William Thomas suggests that directorStanley Kubrick took his characters and their ideas about nuclear strategyseriously, making his comedy all the darker
As Dr. Strangelove passes its 50th anniversary, William Thomas suggests that director Stanley Kubrick took his characters and their ideas about nuclear strategy seriously, making his comedy all the darker
By Jennifer Park In Robert Allott’s edited prose commonplace book, Wits Theater of the Little World (1599), he introduces a section on beauty with this line: “Cleopatra writ a booke of the preseruation of womens beauty.” Today’s post is an … Continue reading →
Notoriously, on the wedding night of the celebrated art critic, John Ruskin and Effie Gray in 1848, Ruskin was so repelled by the sight of his bride’s body that he was unable to consummate the marriage. Effie Gray explained in a letter of five years later “he had imagined women were quite different to what he saw I was, and that the reason he did not make me his Wife was because he was disgusted with my person”. Although we’ll never get to the bottom, so to speak, of the reasons for Ruskin’s re… »
I have had the privilege of spending the past two weeks working with one of Britain’s foremost historians. He is 92 now, and though frail of constitution his mind is absolutely fine. I am amazed at how well he remembers people and events dating back sixty, seventy, sometimes even eighty years. “I suffered from every conceivable illness before the age of ten, which got rid of them for the rest of my life”, he told me the other day, and indeed his health is remarkable. He enjoys his meals and dri… »
People often say that early modern men and women didn’t drink water because it was dangerous. Medical writers were clearly worried about the safety of drinking water. But it was not just dirt that they feared, but the possibility of swallowing creatures that would then live inside the body. John Archer’s medical book described the…
By Serena Trowbridge, Birmingham City University
One of my favourite modules to teach is Literature and Psychology, a third-year module which focuses on Victorian literature and reads it in the light of contemporary psychological thought. It is popular with students, though many find it much further removed from their A-level Psychology than they anticipated! The students examine ideas about character formation in nineteenth-century poetry and prose, and place them in the context of philosophic… »
Below is the provisional programme for the conference, there is the potential that some changes will be made before the conference dates. If you would be willing to chair a panel (other than your own) please email email@example.com with details of the panel you would like to chair. Day 1 9:00- 9:30: Registration 9:30-11:00: Session…
Peter Anstey writes … Two years ago on this blog I addressed the ‘Straw Man Problem‘ for the distinction between experimental and speculative philosophy. The apparent problem, according to some critics of the ESD, is that there were no speculative philosophers in the early modern period. In my response to that problem I listed The [...]
This is the fourth in History Matters’ series of blogs for LGBT History Month. All of the blogs will appear here as they are posted.
In his 1932 book The Cloven Hoof the British writer Taylor Croft set out a common ‘line of defence’ offered by ‘homosexual’ men: ‘homosexuality and creative or other high human abilities are almost inseparable.’ Croft thought this was a ‘gross exaggeration’ but had much sympathy for the idea. ‘There are many historical precedents for it,’ he argued, ‘and homosexual »
By Rebecca Earle Have you encountered a reference to potatoes from before 1800? I’m interested in all early modern potatoes and would be delighted if you could alert me to any references, however fragmentary. You can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org … Continue reading →
Covers of the three books
A previous post allowed me to get over excited about a tiny phrenology book, this time I have three small books (triple excitement).
The Little Mineralogist, the Little Geologist, and First Lessons on Natural Philosophy have no publication dates but a search on COPAC gives us estimated dates ranging from 1830-1850. All three are under 15 cm tall with two of them (the Littles) looking a bit plain, though all of them do have plates inside.
The Little Mineralogist runs th… »
The nineteenth-century introduced a tremendous number of treatments boasting cures for irremediable deafness. Some of these cures were advised by aurists (specialists of the ear); others were tested home remedies or marketed as proprietary nostrums. Below is a list of some of the most extreme measures that were once popular treatments: 1. MERCURY The use … Continue reading →
For some years we have been compiling posts based on our analysis of the statistics of use of the various archive collections we hold (2012, 2011, 2010) and in spite of the upheavals due to building works that began in the second half of 2013, usage of these materials remains very healthy, although numbers of visitors to the Rare Materials Room during its period in exile on the 5th floor (and the necessity for booking a place) did show some degree of decline.
Wallace-Cowell Theatre Trailer ( … »
Recently, I found myself doing a little seat dance in the British Library when I came across a fascinating series of letters (Sloane MS 4076) from 1715, written by apothecary William Lilly about the Countess of Suffolk, Henrietta Howard. Historians of medicine, of course, are generally loathe to engage in retrodiagnosis, but sometimes it’s just […]
In the 1900s, A.O. Leonard of New York City engaged in a mail-order business selling his “Invisible Antiseptic Ear Drums,” which he claimed could cure deafness. Artificial eardrums were quite popular during the turn of the century, particularly in the United States; numerous companies advertised and sold all sorts of eardrums as cures for deafness. … Continue reading →
“We have found the secret of life!” So Francis Crick exclaimed, bursting into the Eagle pub in Cambridge, exactly sixty-one years ago. He and his partner, James Watson, had just solved the structure of DNA. The only eye-witness account is from the historical farce The Double Helix, written more than a decade after the fact […]
To celebrate our 20th anniversary, we commissioned this special portrait of the man himself! (There’s also a version without the shameless plug.)
The Friends of Charles Darwin were officially founded 20 years ago today, on 2nd March, 1994.
On that date, my co-founder, Fitz, and I posted a letter to the Chief Cashier of the Bank of England, in which we drew the bank’s attention to a ‘glaring omission’: Charles Darwin had been overlooked on their bank notes! We pointed out that Darwin’s image ‘wo… »
Cities have always been a magnet to migrants. In 2010, a tipping point was reached for the first time when, according to the World Health Organization, the majority of the world’s population lived in cities. By 2050, seven out of 10 people will have been born in – or migrated to – a city. One hundred years ago, that figure was two out of 10.
Bernard Lightman’s “Ideology, Evolution and Late-Victorian Agnostic Popularizers” in Moore’s History, Humanity and Evolution (1989) deserves special mention. He argues that agnosticism was presented as a religious creed that had evolved out of Christianity by agnostic propagandists such as Charles Albert Watts (1858-1946), William Stewart Ross (1844-1906), Richard Bithell (1821-1902), Frederick James Gould (1855-1938), Samuel Laing (1811-97), and others.
In the 1880s and 1890s, Victorian agnos… »
In Henry Fielding’s 1749 picaresque History Of Tom Jones, A Foundling, the eponymous hero, laid up in bed having been brained by a bottle in a fight, is attended by the barber Little Benjamin – ‘one of the pleasantest barbers that was ever recorded in history’. First, Benjamin provides Tom with a shave; then, he turns his attention to Tom’s head-wound.
‘I find you have more trades than one,’ Tom exclaims.
‘A surgeon,’ the barber gravely corrects him, ‘is a profession, not a trade.’
Confused, Tom »
One of the joys of being both part of the Digital Humanities community and an early riser is brushing one’s teeth at 6.30 am, checking one’s email, and seeing the days Humanist Discussion Group messages dribble into one’s inbox. Humanist was established by Willard McCarty in 1987 and each morning…
Histories of science and technology provide many examples of accidental discovery. Researchers go looking for one thing and find another. Or, more often, they look for one thing, find something else but don’t realize it until someone points it out in a completely different context. The serendipitous “Eureka!” is the most exciting of all.
Take the microwave oven. Its inventor, Percy Spencer, was not trying to discover a quick, flameless way to cook food. He was working on a magnetron, a vacuum t… »
Jason Rosenhouse is a mathematician and science blogger who has been very actively engaged in the American dispute between scientists and creationists for a number of years. Unlike many of his fellow warriors for science Jason has displayed a remarkable openness and tolerance for the thoughts and beliefs of the creationists. He attended creationist’s lectures and meetings over a number of years listening to what they have to say, engaging in non-provocative discussions with other attendees and … »