Towards the end of the 1800s, there were three primary American groups competing to invent technology to record and play back audio. Alexander Graham Bell worked with with Charles Sumner Tainter and Chichester Bell in at their Volta Laboratory in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., while Thomas A. Edison worked from his Menlo Park facilities, and Emile Berliner worked in his independent laboratory in his home. To secure the rights to their inventions, the three groups sent samples of their work to the Smithsonian. These recordings became part of the permanent collections, now consisting of 400 of the earliest audio recordings ever made. But knowledge of their contents was limited to old, short descriptions, as the rubber, beeswax, glass, tin foil and brass recording media are fragile, and playback devices might damage the recordings, if such working devices are even available. That is, until a collaborative project with the Library of Congress and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory came together to make 2D and 3D optical scanners, capable of visually recording the patterns marked on discs and cylinders, respectively. [more inside]
Anything but clear. It is well known that panes of stained glass in old European churches are thicker at the bottom because glass is a slow-moving liquid that flows downward over centuries. Well known, yes, but long known to be wrong. Scientists still disagree about the nature of glass, and researchers continue to try to understand its dual personality . [more inside]
The art of perfume and snuff bottles: Chinese snuff bottles and more, a variety of types, painted inside and about that technique. About snuff and its use in China. Images on Flickr, at Christie's. Perfume bottles, the history of perfume bottles and perfume. Beautiful glass bottles painted inside by disabled Burmese artist, U Nyo Lay.
Historic Glass Bottles. Bill Lindsey of the BLM created a tremendous resource to assist you in identifying and dating most utilitarian glass bottles and jars produced in the United States and Canada between the early 1800s and 1950s. Check out information on glassmaking, bottle dating, and bottle types. Of particular interest to me are the pages on liquor, wine, and beer bottles.