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Naturalis Historia

"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."
Naturalis Historia was written by Pliny the Elder between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger.
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification.
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 16, 2013 - 24 comments

Mannequins and the peculiar morgue between Paris and Rome

Because who is perfect? Disabled mannequins will be eliciting astonished looks from passers-by on Zurich's Bahnhofstrasse today. Between the perfect mannequins, there will be figures with scoliosis or brittle bone disease modelling the latest fashions. One will have shortened limbs; the other a malformed spine. The campaign has been devised for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities by Pro Infirmis, an organisation for the disabled.

Busty Mannequins and an Inflated Sense of Beauty in Venezuela In Venezuela, women are confronted with a culture of increasingly enhanced physiques fueled by beauty pageants and plastic surgery. - The New York Times [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 5, 2013 - 26 comments

Five Feet of Books

"During his days as Harvard’s influential president, Dr. Charles W. Eliot made a frequent assertion: If you were to spend just 15 minutes a day reading the right books, a quantity that could fit on a five-foot shelf, you could give yourself a proper liberal education. Publisher P. F. Collier and Son loved the idea and asked Eliot to compile and edit the right collection of works. The result: a 51-volume series of classic works from world literature published in 1909 called Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf, which would later be called The Harvard Classics." (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 11, 2013 - 89 comments

The Association of Religion Data Archives: Churchgoers give far less than they think

"Parting with treasure easier said than done: Churchgoers give far less than they think" is the latest feature article from the Association of Religion Data Archives, which "strives to democratize access to the best data on religion." The site includes a browsable archive of religious survey data, a quick statistical roundup, international religious profiles, feature articles on topics like the rise of Mormons, Muslims and nondenominational churches in the USA ("nondenominational and independent churches may now be considered the third largest religious group in the country...Only the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention are larger"), links to sources like the 2010 U.S. Religious Census, a Religion Research Hub (with tutorials and helpful advice on best practices when theorizing, conceptualizing and measuring religious behavior) and lots more.
posted by mediareport on Aug 30, 2012 - 25 comments

Yesterday's Tomorrow Today!

The BBC broadcasted the science and technology showcase show Tomorrow's World (titles on piano) on 7 July 1965 on BBC1, it ran for 38 years until it was cancelled at the beginning of 2003. Unlike the boosterism of US science programs, Tomorrow's World was more famous for it's live stunts and wry outlook ( James Burke experiences the "convenient" office of the future and the future of home gardening and crushing ennui). The BBC has an archive of episodes and clips for UK visitors, everyone else will have to be content with clips concerning Home Computers, New Banking, Nellie The School Computer, The Elliot Light Pen, Mobile Phones, and Moog Synthesizers.
posted by The Whelk on Nov 26, 2011 - 17 comments

I. WAS. PROMISED. FLYING. CARS!

PopSci: Archive Gallery: From Chicago to Shanghai, 138 Visionary Years of World's Fairs [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 21, 2010 - 5 comments

How to operate the first digital computer.

Learn how to operate the world's first fully electronic digital computer in this helpful instructional video. No, not ENIAC - the Atanasoff Berry Computer. Here's an operator's manual. More information about the reconstruction.
posted by loquacious on Aug 13, 2010 - 24 comments

We could see such people - no longer as mythical figures, but alive - as alive as their work

"The people whose stories you watch on Peoples Archive are leaders of their field, whose work has influenced and changed our world as we know it." The archive includes talks by luminaries such as Hans Bethe, Benoit Mandelbrot, Donald Knuth, Quentin Blake, Stan Lee and many others.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Mar 5, 2010 - 12 comments

"Science is an integral part of culture"

The Unofficial Stephen Jay Gould Archive, an online library dedicated to the Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002). Includes an excellent selection of videos. And The Official Stephen Jay Gould Archive [still under development], which includes two of his books and his Harvard course online. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Aug 26, 2008 - 40 comments

Gloria in electronica

The University of South Carolina recently completed an ambitious survey of all medieval texts in the state for an exhibit at the university library. All the works were scanned and archived electronically. However, not only can you view the texts online, you can hear the university's chorus sing (MP3) the musical manuscripts. [more inside]
posted by 1f2frfbf on Mar 18, 2008 - 8 comments

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