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Irina T.

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Rene Descartes | Queen Christina of Sweden

"In Sweden—where, Descartes said, in winter men’s thoughts freeze like the water—the 22-year-old Christina perversely made the 53-year-old Descartes rise before 5:00 am to give her philosophy lessons, even though she knew of his habit of lying in bed until 11 o’clock in the morning. She also is said to have ordered him to write the verses of a ballet, The Birth of Peace (1649), to celebrate her role in the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years’ War. The verses in fact were not written by Descartes, though he did write the statutes for a Swedish Academy of Arts and Sciences. While delivering these statutes to the queen at 5:00 am on February 1, 1650, he caught a chill, and he soon developed pneumonia. He died in Stockholm on February 11. Many pious last words have been attributed to him, but the most trustworthy report is that of his German valet, who said that Descartes was in a coma and died without saying anything at all."
According to/Excerpted from
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Rene-Descartes

Image via Wikipedia Commons
Queen Christina (at the table on the right) in discussion with French philosopher René Descartes. (Romanticized painting by Nils Forsberg (1842-1934), after Pierre Louis Dumesnil"
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christina,_Queen_of_Sweden
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♥
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Irina T.

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Ban la ai

Irina T.

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Aurora Borealis

"This beautiful phenomenon has never been seen in European countries to the southward of London; at least not in modern times; and yet when we reflect upon the phenomena in early times, to which superstition affixed the appellation of showers of fire, fiery swords, etc., even as far south as Jerusalem, it is scarcely possible to doubt that they have been seen farther south than they appear at present.
In Scotland, the Aurora Borealis was unknown previous to the commencement of the eighteenth century, when the Northern Lights were supposed to be prophetic of the intestine troubles that followed the Hanoverian succession. The same superstition prevails in the northern parts of England, where it is confidently asserted that they never were seen until the execution of the Earl of Derwentwater in 1715, with which event it is not doubted but they were in some degree connected.
A living traveler relates a curious fact connected with their appearance in the southern states of North America, which shows with what avidity the imagination raises a superstition on natural phenomena. “In the autumn of 1789,” he says, “I was at Norfolk in Virginia, where a frequent subject of tea table gossip was a prophecy, printed in New England, stating that the world was to be destroyed by fire, on a specific day in November in that year; a prophecy which, absurd as it was, actually made a deep impression even on those who professed to laugh at it.
It happened on this very day that I crossed Elizabeth River, and stopped in Portsmouth to spend the evening at a house where there was a large party of both sexes. There the prophecy became the subject of conversation; and the day being nearly past, the whole party were speedily becoming most courageous philosophers. All at once, our ears were assailed by loud murmurs outside. We rushed to the door, and were much astonished at finding the whole population of the place in the street; the greater part of them on their knees, and uttering the loudest lamentations.
Attracted by the brilliancy of the heavens, I raised my eyes upwards, and observed a very vivid Aurora Borealis casting its coruscations over more than half the hemisphere. On turning around, I saw the whole party on their knees, and evidently in great trepidation.
The scene was certainly awful, yet I could not restrain a burst of laughter; when my friends, with the utmost horror, begged me to desist, and not draw the wrath of offended heaven upon them.
With difficulty I at length persuaded some of them to listen to me, when I assured them that all they saw was a common phenomenon in more northern latitudes. I also endeavored to convince some of the strangers nearest to me that there was no cause for alarm; but I could gain no converts. I succeeded, however, in drawing my own party back into the house, where I was considered something more than human, for relieving their minds from the horrors which assailed them. Towards midnight, the Aurora dispersed, as did the fears of the good people of Portsmouth. On crossing the ferry to Norfolk I found that the same species of alarm had also existed there to a considerable extent, and was as happily extinguished”.
Excerpted from
The Percy anecdotes. Collected and edited by Reuben and Sholto Percy. Verbatim reprint of the original ed., with a pref. by John Timbs, Published 1868
https://archive.org/details/percyanecdotesco02perc

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“The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and Aurora Australis (Southern Lights) are the result of electrons colliding with the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere. (Protons cause faint and diffuse aurora, usually not easily visible to the human eye.) The electrons are energized through acceleration processes in the downwind tail (night side) of the magnetosphere and at lower altitudes along auroral field lines. The accelerated electrons follow the magnetic field of Earth down to the Polar Regions where they collide with oxygen and nitrogen atoms and molecules in Earth’s upper atmosphere. In these collisions, the electrons transfer their energy to the atmosphere thus exciting the atoms and molecules to higher energy states. When they relax back down to lower energy states, they release their energy in the form of light. This is similar to how a neon light works. The aurora typically forms 80 to 500 km above Earth’s surface.”
SPACE WEATHER PREDICTION CENTER /NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/phenomena/aurora
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
More at:
Aurora – The magnificent northern lights
http://proteus.space.noa.gr/~daglis/images/pdf_files/other_pubs/recorder.pdf
Wiki:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurora
Image:
Frederic Edwin Church's 1865 painting "Aurora Borealis"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurora#/media/File:Church_1911.4.1.jpg

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+r m c k I don't recall my mention of God.
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Irina T.

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Grand Canyon

"The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself. The resources of the graphic art are taxed beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features. Language and illustration combined must fail. The elements that unite to make the Grand Canyon the most sublime spectacle in nature are multifarious and exceedingly diverse. The Cyclopean forms which result from the sculpture of tempests through ages too long for man to compute, are wrought into endless details, to describe which would be a task equal in magnitude to that of describing the stars of the heavens or the multitudinous beauties of the forest with its traceries of foliage presented by oak and pine and poplar, by beech and linden and hawthorn, by tulip and lily and rose, by fern and moss and lichen. Besides the elements of form, there are elements of color, for here the colors of the heavens are rivaled by the colors of the rocks. The rainbow is not more replete with hues. But form and color do not exhaust all the divine qualities of the Grand Canyon. It is the land of music. The river thunders in perpetual roar, swelling in floods of music when the storm gods play upon the rocks and fading away in soft and low murmurs when the infinite blue of heaven is unveiled. With the melody of the great tide rising and falling, swelling and vanishing forever, other melodies are heard in the gorges of the lateral canyons, while the waters plunge in the rapids among the rocks or leap in great cataracts. Thus the Grand Canyon is a land of song. Mountains of music swell in the rivers, hills of music billow in the creeks, and meadows of music murmur in the rills that ripple over the rocks. Altogether it is a symphony of multitudinous melodies. All this is the music of waters."
Excerpted from The Exploration of the Colorado River and its canyons by John Wesley Powell

More at:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wesley_Powell
"John Wesley "Wes" Powell (March 24, 1834 – September 23, 1902) was a U.S. soldier, geologist, explorer of the American West, professor at Illinois Wesleyan University, and director of major scientific and cultural institutions. He is famous for the 1869 Powell Geographic Expedition, a three-month river trip down the Green and Colorado rivers, including the first known passage by Europeans through the Grand Canyon."


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I saw it when I was a child years ago & didn't enjoy the beauty because I was afraid of heights!
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Irina T.

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E. S. Curtis (1904): Canon de Chelly – Navajo. Seven riders on horseback and dog trek against background of canyon cliffs."
Image source Wikipedia
https://goo.gl/IMJX4s
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Nice
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Irina T.

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Robert Ridgway | Hummingbirds

”Of all the numerous groups into which the birds are divided there is none other so numerous in species, so varied in form, so brilliant in plumage, and so different from all others in their mode of life. Inhabitants exclusively of the tropical and temperate portions of America, they constitute the most charming element in the wonderfully varied bird-life of the New World. Buffon considers the Humming Bird "of all animated beings . . . the most elegant in form and brilliant in color. The stones and metals polished by art are not comparable to this gem of nature. She has placed it in the order of birds, but among the tiniest of the race — maxime miranda in minimus; she has loaded it with all the gifts of which she has only given other birds a share. Agility, rapidity, nimbleness, grace, and rich attire all belong to this little favorite. The emerald, the ruby, and the topaz glitter in its garb, which is never soiled with the dust of earth, for, leading an aerial life, it rarely touches the turf even for an instant. Always in the air, flying from flower to flower, it shares their freshness and their splendor, lives on their nectar, and only inhabits those climates in which they are unceasingly renewed."
[…]
It is not the naturalist alone, however, who has been attracted by the wonderful beauty of Humming Birds. The demand for them is great for purely ornamental purposes, and though this has vastly added to their destruction it has, as a fortunate recompense, enabled naturalists to become better acquainted with them, the Immense number of specimens often contained in milliners' and taxidermists' stocks frequently yielding species which otherwise would scarcely have become known to science. " Both Frenchmen and Belgians," says Mr. Gould, “have proceeded to South America to procure supplies of these birds, and dealers from those countries have established themselves in some of the cities of that part of the world for the like purpose. From Sta. Fe de Bogota alone many thousands of skins are annually sent to London and Paris, and sold as ornaments for the drawing-room and for scientific purposes.”
Excerpted from The humming birds by Ridgway, Robert, 1850-1929, published 1892
https://archive.org/details/hummingbirds00ridg

Robert Ridgway (July 2, 1850 – March 25, 1929) was an American ornithologist, the first full-time curator of birds at the United States National Museum.
”Men are judged commonly by two criteria--by what they do and by what they are. In any adequate estimate, it is not sufficient to recount what a man has accomplished, because his personal qualities so greatly influence his activities. No one who knew Robert Ridgway could fail to be impressed by his personality. In scientific work his outstanding traits were his insight, his industry, and his accuracy.His broad knowledge of birds and his familiarity with their characters, in the gaining of which his drawing of birds greatly aided him, were as remarkable as his judgment, and enabled him to see almost at a glance what others less fortunate must needs discover by study. It was no unusual occurrence, when he was unpacking or examining new collections of birds, as they were received at the United States National Museum, for him to pick up a strange specimen and at once say that it was a new species, or that it was a new subspecies; and he was right in almost every case.”
Robert Ridgway: A Memorial Appreciation by Harry C. Oberholser, April 1933
http://vertebrates.si.edu/birds/hall_of_fame/InMemoriamPDFs/Ridgway.pdf

Image: Painting by Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904)
Cattleya Orchid and Three Brazilian Hummingbirds, 1871
Source (Wikipedia Commons, PD USA) https://goo.gl/LFQExs

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Lovely
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Irina T.

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Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington

#onthisday December 28, Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (28 December 1882-22 November 1944), was born in Kendal, England. A gifted astronomer who investigated the motion and evolution of stars, he also made important contributions to the theory of general relativity. In 1919 he led an eclipse expedition to Principe Island that confirmed Einstein’s theory that gravity will bend the path of light. Eddington was an outstanding expositor of physics and astronomy famous for being able to explain complicated concepts in lay terms.

”Are Space and Time Infinite? I suppose that everyone has at some time plagued his imagination with the question, Is there an end to space? If space comes to an end, what is beyond the end? On the other hand, the idea that there is no end, but space beyond space for ever, is inconceivable. And so, the imagination is tossed to and fro in a dilemma. Prior to the relativity theory the orthodox view was that space is infinite. No one can conceive infinite space; we had to be content to admit in the physical world an inconceivable conception — disquieting but not necessarily illogical. Einstein's theory now offers a way out of the dilemma. Is space infinite, or does it come to an end? Neither. Space is finite but it has no end; "finite but unbounded" is the usual phrase. Infinite space cannot be conceived by anybody; finite but unbounded space is difficult to conceive but not impossible. I shall not expect you to conceive it; but you can try.”
Keep trying … ;-)
Excerpted from
The nature of the physical world by Eddington, Arthur Stanley, Sir, 1882-1944
https://archive.org/details/natureofphysical00eddi
More at:
http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Eddington.html
Image:
One of Eddington's photographs of the total solar eclipse of 29 May 1919, presented in his 1920 paper announcing its success, confirming Einstein's theory that light "bends"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Eddington#/media/File:1919_eclipse_positive.jpg
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Beautiful
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Irina T.

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"Many of these efforts were, predictably, spectacular failures. An early shipment of camels to Australia, to help travelers cross the arid interior, was met with tragedy when bad weather killed all but one (that camel, named Harry, lived a life of celebrity until he accidentally killed his owner, John Horrocks, by headbutting a gun while Horrocks was cleaning it). Ostriches similarly failed to thrive there. The founders of the British Acclimatization Society, who believed that the country’s growing food crisis could be solved by the introduction of exotic fish and big game, threw an enormous banquet every year from 1860 to 1865, featuring tables piled high with German boar, Syrian pig, East African eland, and Australian kangaroo. But they never successfully imported anything more impressive than the North American gray squirrel, which haunts them to this day."
In the 19th century, dozens of Acclimatization Societies wanted to stock Europe with exotic beasts—and the colonies with tame ones.
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Interesting but very dumb hippopotamus are very unpredictable they can turn on you in a flash there teeth can cut you in half bit one bite.
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Irina T.

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Charles and John Deane | Pioneering diving engineering | XIX century

"Desperate to find a way out of poverty, he began sketching an extraordinary new device that would make him rich. Like his ancestors, Charles had a passion and talent for engineering, and he knew that the greatest danger to ships at sea was not water but fire. So he devised an “Apparatus to extinguish Fire in its origin”—a copper helmet riveted to a leather or canvas jacket and fitted with a hose that delivered fresh air from a pump. On his patent application, Charles described his helmet as a
"Machine to be Worn by Persons Entering Rooms or other Places filled with Smoke or other Vapour, for the Purpose of Extinguishing Fire or Extricating Persons or Property therein.”
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Wow
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Irina T.

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"While Leibniz made groundbreaking contributions towards the modern binary number system as well as integral and differential calculus, his role in the history of computing amounts to more than the sum of his scientific and technological accomplishments. He also advanced what we might consider a kind of “computational imaginary” — reflecting on the analytical and generative possibilities of rendering the world computable."
Three hundred years after the death of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and seven hundred years after the birth of Ramon Llull, Jonathan Gray looks at how their early visions of computation and the “combinatorial art” speak to our own age of data, algorithms, and artificial intelligence.
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