Archive for the ‘Photography & Multimedia’ Category

Time and Tisza = living on the river

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010
Mayflys on the Tisza River, Silas 2009

GIANT Mayflys on the Tisza River, Silas 2009

I just listened to a wonderful interview of Susan Silas, by Will Corwin of, on the occasion of the opening of her exhibit, Helmbrecht’s Walk. It is at the Hebrew Union College Museum on One West 4th Street, NYC, and will be up for the academic year ending in June 2010.

She talks about the walk, of course, but also covers decaying birds and giant mayflys on the Tisza River in Hungary, all apropos of time passing. My dad often swam in the Tisza when he lived in Szolnok and worked at the Cukorgyar (beet sugar factory) before WWII. He always had plenty of sweets to treat the girls on the beach.

Makes me anticipate even more Sean Carroll’s book, From Eternity to Here, due out this week. Then I’ll have the art and science of time covered.

Wishing everyone a sweet New Year!

Ritxi = Psychopomp Via Calacas

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009


Mystery Mathematicians by Eisenstaedt = D. Blackwell

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

As we guessed, some of the uncaptioned photographs by Life Magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt are indeed of famous mathematicians. We’ve identified 3. Here is the first.

David Blackwell, is perhaps the world’s most famous black mathematician. While the Rao-Blackwell theorem may be his most important, his favorite paper is On an Equation by Wald, written while teaching at Howard University, where he taught for 10 years after a postdoc at the Institute for Advanced Study with the likes of Einstein and Von Neumann in 1941 at age of 22. That appointment included nomination as a Visiting Fellow at Princeton, causing controversy and opposition from the University adminstration. Perhaps that is why he only applied to teach at black colleges.

In 1954 things had changed sufficiently to where he could move to the new Statistics department at UC Berkeley. In 1965, a year after these photos were taken, he became the first black elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He co-wrote a classic textbook that is still in print. There is a wondeful interview from 2002 online. Professor Blackwell is actively retired in Northern California with his large family. Next April 24th he celebrates his 90th birthday.

Mystery Math Portraits by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life = unpublished book

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Time Magazine has already opened its archives, and now Time/Life and Google have an index to Life Magazine‘s photographs. This is great news, because Life chronicled and portraited America in photographs; and no one better than the great photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt. He gave us “the kiss” and Marilyn Monroe.

Apparently, in 1962/3 mathematician/computer scientist Dr. John G. Kemeny was preparing a math book using Eisenstaedt’s portraits of famous scientists. There are over 30 in the archives, including a famous picture of Kurt Godel, a great shot of the wonderful Stanislaw Ulam, and some other facinating portraits.

But who are they?  Is that Eugene Wigner? The captions don’t say. I invite elucidation.

Candid Cameras = First Light

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Birthday Pictures

For their third birthday, Lia and Alan both got real digital cameras. Alan’s first shot was of Dad crawling in front of the lens. Lia, the art’tist, preferred taking pictures of the Wiggles birthday cake – featuring the Big Red Car – her feet – I show her best shot omitting the rest of the series – and her Mom – at least a part of her – dancing.

Blue Moon, Bishop’s Ring, Cloud Iridescence = By Budapest

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

blue moon, Bishop's ring, cloud iridescence

Tonight is the second full moon of the month.  In 1946 Sky & Telescope magazine mistakenly created the myth that this moon is called a blue moon.  They have recently corrected that to say what the Maine Farmer’s Almanac really said – that the third full moon in a season with four full moons is called blue.  The almanac picked that nominalism simply because they needed an extra name.  After all, the monthly full moons all had a name:

  • January – Wolf moon
  • February – Ice moon
  • March – Storm moon
  • April – Growing/Flower moon
  • May – Hare moon
  • June – Mead moon
  • July – Hay moon
  • August – Corn moon
  • September – Harvest moon
  • October –  Hunter’s moon
  • November – Snow moon
  • December – Winter moon

But sometimes the moon really appears blue, like on May 20-21 in Hungary when fine dust from the Sahara desert blew over the country.  Ágnes Kiricsi, whose Hungarian/English blog is Atmospheric Optics (not to be confused with the UK’s Atmospheric Optics website), captured the scene over Budapest.  Her friend, Noli, captured an equally rare event with the same cause, a solar Bishop’s ring as well as an iridescent cloud (which has nothing to do with Saharan sands, but is very pretty).

Happy Birthday Donot != Mr. Wizard !?

Monday, July 10th, 2006

Mr. Wizard Then and Now

It’s Don Jeffrey Herbert’s (aka Mr. Wizard) birthday today.  He created Watch Mr. Wizard for NBC in 1951 and Mr. Wizard’s World for Nickelodeon in 1983.  One of his early books, Mr. Wizards Experiments for Young Scientists, was illustrated by Dan Noonan, who also helped Walt Kelly illustrating Pogo.  Here Egbert Elephant and his friends celebrate “Donot’s” birthday.

Happy Birthday Donot

Albinos, Templars, DaVinci’s Last Supper, Nazis = Threads of History

Monday, June 19th, 2006

Spools of Thread 

Dr. Lynette Davidson writes a great article, What do Templars, the Jesus Family and DaVinci have to do with Nazis?, about how bad history, even fictionalized, has real consequences.

But do Knight’s Templar, as seen in their heyday and in the 1930’s, suffer?

Templar 1100s     Templar 1930s

Does DaVinci’s Last Supper suffer from being repainted, or from modern interpretations?  The artwork at the top is

“A life sized rendering of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper constructed from 20,736 spools of thread strung onto aluminum ball chain. When seen with the aid of optical devices, the spools of thread coalesce into realistic images of Christ and his disciples.”

Below is the repaired version along with a detail showing before and after of JohnMary.  The third picture is an ad showing a sacred feminine version that was banned in Milan.

Last Supper  before and after


As for albinos, Karen Jordan, Lexi’s mom, says this about the stereotypical depiction of albinos in books and movies:

One more evil albino makes things just a little harder for my daughter and many others.

The face of albinism

Incidentally, athough albinos usually do have some vision impairment, their eyes are only red, like everyone else’s, in flash pictures.