A Daily History of Holes, Dots, Lines, Science, History, Math, the Unintentional Absurd & Nothing |1.6 million words, 7500 images, 4 million hits| Press & appearances in The Times, Le Figaro, MENSA, The Economist, The Guardian, Discovery News, Slate, Le Monde, Sci American Blogs, Le Point, and many other places... 4,200+ total posts
This cover design decorates a pamphlet from the Australian Constitutional League of Sydney, written towards the end of WWII, and visualizes a post-war Australia in terms of free enterprise vs. socialism. Needless to say the pamphlet took a dim view of the prospects for a Socialist Australia. From my brief read of the little pamphlet, the Utopianopolis on the "myth" side of the future belongs to what the Socialists could never deliver; on the right side, the "reality" part, as socialism "promises everything" but "fails in everything".
This photo is so filled with dread and sadness, a squad of English soldiers posing with their volunteer-made cloth gas masks. The image appeared in the August, 1915 issue of Popular Mechanics, and showed the state of gas protection for infantry as it existed in the earliest stages of gas warfare in WWI. Popular Mechanics addressed the issue of poison gas in an earlier (monthly) issue, but it really wasn't until this present issue where there was a series of articles/photos relating to poison gas protection. The first employment of poison (chlorine) gas occurred a few months earlier on 22 April 1915 against the French by the Germans at Ypres, in Belgium, and it turned out to have a ripping and widely disastrous effect on the French lines in what would be the first and only major offensive launched by the Germans that year. .
"From my mother's sleep I fell into the State, And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze. Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life, I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters. When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose."--Randall Jarrell, formerly of the USAAF
Jarrell explains the poem so: "A ball turret was a plexiglas sphere set into the belly of a B-17 or B-24 and inhabited by two .50 caliber machine guns and one man, a short small man. When this gunner tracked with his machine guns a fighter attacking his bomber from below, he revolved with the turret; hunched upside-down in his little sphere, he looked like the fetus in the womb. The fighters which attacked him were armed with cannon firing explosive shells. The hose was a steam hose."--(Wiki)
I used to think that the belly gunner (in a ball turret) in a B-17 (or B-25, or PB4Y-1) was about the most dangerous/wrenching position to be in an aircraft--that is, until I saw this illustration in the January 1917 issue of Popular Mechanics:
This was just a bad place to be, in a 14'-long bomb-like aluminum casing, hanging from a 3000' 3/8" cable suspended from a Zeppelin, trying to relay the positions of whatever you could find, and with people shooting at you. At least, though, the observer had a woolen mattress on which to lie (so says the caption).
Well, this is not anywhere near the first image of a pulley, not anywhere close--I don't even know when that might have appeared in a manuscript in the 9th century or whatever--but it is certainly a very attractive gang of pulleys. It occurs in Robert Fludd’s (1574-1637), Utriusque Cosmi . . . Historia (1617), and in it I see Hero/Heron of Alexandria (10-70 ACE), who I always associate with the pulley, and of course with his famous inventions, which in some respect are early forms of 'robots". In this image, the pulley-robot of some complex means is operating the "drive element" and producing (still) the necessary energy to produce change. And--this is a fine image.
A Possible-reality from the visionary Robert Fludd
[Source: University of Utah, http://content.lib.utah.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/naturae/id/1587/show/1265/rec/1]
Robert Fludd’s (1574-1637), title page for his Utriusque Cosmi . . . Historia (1617) features this complicated astrological wheel with a Vitruvian-man-like image at the vortex of the imaged pulls and pushes of the cosmos. In addition to everything else, real and imagined, Rosicrucianism and astrology and puffy-birds, Fludd, who was an English physician, delved deeply into the real stuff of the world in this book in addition to all of the other make-believe--optics, the musical intervals, perspective drawing, hydraulic engineering, construction of lifting machines, military engineering and many other interesting, physical science topics. But this drawing, right there on the title page, reveals Fludd’s real interests and shows what governs what he does. Everything else, the math and and the physics, services this need. Of course the image is beautiful, which is why it is here, but it is also a deeply personal, exploitative, cover-all for the things that Fludd wanted to find.
But there is a lot of other interesting, and potentially-applicable, real-world stuff and proposals in the book as we can see in the exotic and wonder-full image of the high-Renaissance "tank" that leads this short post. I'm not so sure that this thing would actually move--I assume that it has wheels or something in the front part to help it move along, otherwise that weapon would go nowhere. Even if it was assumed to be mobile, I wonder about whether four horses is enough to move along something that size plus six canon and at least three men. Even with 5'/6' wheels, it seems not so likely that this would roll across a battlefield. All that said, this did exist in the realm of possibility, and Fludd had much else. Since I've been doing research on the first battlefield appearances of tanks, this one particular image caught my attention.
Here's a map the meaning of which was destined to be understood by even the most casual observer. It appeared on a propaganda leaflet distributed by the U.S. 8th Army and shows the Allied bombing campaign against Germany from 29 March to 4 April, 1945. (Most of the action depicted here looks to be the U.S.A.A.F., though I haven't gone through each and every bombing location. I do know that in the last two weeks of the war that the Soviets used about as much bomb tonnage on Germany as was used by the Allies over the preceding two years.) The red lines show the destination of bombing raids, of which there are many for a seven day period, and for my reckoning this is not a complete listing.
Perhaps this leaflet would have been even more provocative if it represented the number of planes on average that would participate in one of these missions, which would of course would be in general hundreds of aircraft. For example, for the raid on Hamburg on March 30 there were over 530 aircraft involved; and for the same location on the next day, another 469. Also there were another five raids on Hamburg over the week following this one depicted, including one on April 8/9 with 440 aircraft. Also this week of raids takes place right after and before other series of massive raids, including a mission over Berlin on February 3 1945 involving 1000 B-17s and 575 Mustangs, followed 11 days later by the bombing of Dresden, which was followed three weeks later by incredible bombing of Tokyo. And later, on April 14, more than 2200 aircraft would take to the air. As impressive and scary as this leaflet looks, it doesn't really begin to approximate the amount of damage inflicted on Germany from the air. (One last example--the large raid on Crailsheim, where I happen to have been born, destroyed about 80% of the small city.)
The title Eine Woch ueber Deutschland ("One Week Over Germany") must have been disturbing for a soldier to read--particularly with the corollary at bottom, which stated that there was no German response so far as bombing England in retaliation was concerned. By this point, the German soldier knew the situation was FUBAR, though I do not know if there is a good German translation for that.
This leaflet was dropped on German forces by the R.A.F. and the U.S.A.A.F. soon after the breakout of the Battle of the Bulge/Ardennes in the end of January 1945, which is one of the two failures that this propaganda sheet screamed about. It is a little odd though that in the map it would show the German offensive at its worst for the U.S. troops, with the bulge extending far west and Bastogne being surrounded. Yet the leaflet told of the German losses of its failed offensive ("Operation Watch on the Rhine") though it did not show the progress of the month-long battle on the map, which should have shown the battle line back to its more-or-less original position by 25 January. In describing the catastrophe of the German position in the east (leading with the loss of "380,000 soldiers") the date of 24 January is mentioned, which supports the late January estimate for a printing date. This was of course the Vistula-Oder Offensive. which saw the Soviet Army advance more than 300 miles in a month, right to the Oder, only 40-odd miles from Berlin. In that campaign the German Army Group A was just about killed--of the 450,000 soldiers in retreat along this long and disastrous front during the month of January, the overwhelming majority were casualties, including nearly 300,000 killed. The wounded and other survivors became POWs. The bottom line of course was that the winter of 1945 for the German soldier was bitter and deadly, and was leading nowhere except defeat--there was no doubt what lay ahead after seeing that map of the Eastern Front.
I'd hate to have been in some Wehrmacht hellhole foxhole in March 1945 and have this fall on me from the sky--I imagine there was little doubt that even the lowest ranking soldier knew that they were in the grip of some enormous vise.
I've been looking at early flying machines--real and imagined--and came upon this at the Library of Congress. There is very little information provided there, and I can't find anything useful online, so I'm going with this being a poster for J.M. Gaites' "musical farce comedy" The Air Ship, which was copyrighted in 1898. The cover shows a "Fly Cop" making a rather forward advance on a young woman with babies in a basket fashioned as a part of the stern of a delicate self-propelled flying machine. The cop is attached to a min-dirigible that has a small fan for its propulsion, as does the remorseful-looking butcher bringing up the rear to the scene. And the whole thing takes place high over Manhattan, looking to be well north of midtown, and probably 3k feet high. Looking south over the island we see the rivers (and a hint of the Brooklyn Bridge) and then in the harbor a suggestion of the Statue of Liberty.
I stumbled upont his fantastic illustration depicting nearly four dozen early balloons, many of which are a mystery to me. The image comes from the Library of Congress site, though the origin, title, and even the date of the engraving are unknown. It is known as "Balloons, airships, and other flying machines designed with some form of propulsion" though the title was bestowed by the library--one thing for sure is that it was engraved by "E. Morieu, and was printed between 1880-1905.
Source: Library of Congress [https://catalog.loc.gov/vwebv/search?searchCode=STNO&searchArg=2002722676&searchType=1&recCount=10]
Somebody at the LC identified some of the airships, as follows:
"Single sheet with 45 numbered illustrations; lacking identification key.- no. 18 shows a collapsible Montgolfier balloon from 1784; no. 23 is the design for a glider balloon as described in "Reflections on the aerostatic sphere," 1783 (September); no. 24 depicts Jean-Charles (l'avocat) Thilorier's plan for transporting troops across the English Channel to invade England, ca. 1800; and no. 32 shows the dirigible balloon glider used by Charles Guillé for an attempted ascension in Paris, November 13, 1814."
Also, I know for sure that the last figure, #45, at bottom right, is a steam-powered balloon railway...
There's another fine image of fantastical airships below, also from the LC, and published in Puck, volume 59, no. 1509 (1906 January 31)--this shows the airships of the near future putting the Panama Canal out of business:
Source: Library of Congress: https://www.loc.gov/resource/ppmsca.26030/?loclr=pin