Monday, June 30, 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Aristarkh Lentulov

mental_floss made the following post today on the weekly series "Feel Art Again" about the Russian artist Aristarkh Lentulov (b 1882 - d 1943).

I had not heard or seen anything by this artist, but the painting they showed is quite impressive & I intend to do much more research on Mr. Lentulov.

more paintings can be found here:

Monday, June 23, 2008

1543: Henry VIII & Katherine Parr

In July of 1543, King Henry VIII married his 6th and last wife, Katherine Parr. Katherine Parr was one of the two wives to survive Henry VIII, the other being Anne of Cleves. After Henry's death in 1547, Katherine Parr went on to marry Thomas Seymour. Their relationship reportedly started to bloom in 1543, but was halted due to Henry VIII's interest in Katherine.

-all links are to wikipedia

Copernicus, Vesalius, & the Scientific Revolution

Nicolaus Copernicus was born in 1473 and died May 24, 1543. Legend has it that the first printed copy of De revolutionibus orbium coelestium was placed in Copernicus's hands on the very day he died, allowing him to take farewell of his opus vitae (life's work). He is reputed to have woken from a stroke-induced coma, looked at his book, and died peacefully. The De revolutionibus is the first instance of a computational heliocentric model, with the Sun at the center of the solar system/universe (prior models for heliocentrism were philosophic and not mathematical in nature). His assumptions:

1) There is no one center of all the celestial circles or spheres.
2) The center of the earth is not the center of the universe, but only of gravity and of the lunar sphere.
3) All the spheres revolve about the sun as their mid-point, and therefore the sun is the center of the universe.
4) The ratio of the earth's distance from the sun to the height of the firmament is so much smaller than the ratio of the earth's radius to its distance from the sun that the distance from the earth to the sun is imperceptible in comparison with the height of the firmament.
5) Whatever motion appears in the firmament arises not from any motion of the firmament, but from the earth's motion. The earth together with its circumjacent elements performs a complete rotation on its fixed poles in a daily motion, while the firmament and highest heaven abide unchanged.
6) What appear to us as motions of the sun arise not from its motion but from the motion of the earth and our sphere, with which we revolve about the sun like any other planet. The earth has, then, more than one motion.
7) The apparent retrograde and direct motion of the planets arises not from their motion but from the earth's. The motion of the earth alone, therefore, suffices to explain so many apparent inequalities in the heavens.

The publication of De revolutionibus orbium coelestium in 1543 is cited as the beginning of the Scientific Revolution.

A second important scientific publication from 1543 was De humani corporis fabrica, by Andreas Vesalius. This is one of the most influential books in human anatomy & Vesalius is often refered to as the father of human anatomy. "His work is associated with a decisive break with medieval practices. Previously, the teaching of human anatomy derived primarily from texts and dissections were performed as a support for their authoritative opinion. The anatomy lesson consisted of reading by a lector accompanied by a dissection by a barber-surgeon whose work was directed and indicated by an explicator. In essence, the knowledge and practice of anatomy were discrete categories. Vesalius, by contrast, combined commentary and dissection to produce an anatomy based on experience and direct observation rather than on authority (1)." Of note, Vesalius' anatomy was in conflict with the established veiws based on Galen's research, and corrected many of the errors inherit in Galen's views.

A copy of the book can be found here:

- all links are to wikipedia except as noted.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville was a colonizer, born in Montreal, Quebec and repeated governor of French Louisiana, appointed 4 separate times during 1701-1743. Most importantly, Bienville was the co-founder of the city of Mobile, Alabama (1702) and the founding father of New Orleans, Louisiana (1718).

Monday, June 02, 2008

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–1809), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founding Fathers for his promotion of the ideals of republicanism in the United States.
He also went to the same college that I did: The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg. There is a statue of him there. Go figure.