Nov 1, 1512
The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, one of Italian artist Michelangelo’s finest works, is exhibited to the public for the first time.
Michelangelo Buonarroti, the greatest of the Italian Renaissance artists, was born in the small village of Caprese in 1475. The son of a government administrator, he grew up in Florence, a center of the early Renaissance movement, and became an artist’s apprentice at age 13. Demonstrating obvious talent, he was taken under the wing of Lorenzo de’ Medici, the ruler of the Florentine republic and a great patron of the arts. After demonstrating his mastery of sculpture in such works as the Pieta (1498) and David (1504), he was called to Rome in 1508 to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel—the chief consecrated space in the Vatican.
Michelangelo’s epic ceiling frescoes, which took several years to complete, are among his most memorable works. Central in a complex system of decoration featuring numerous figures are nine panels devoted to biblical world history. The most famous of these is The Creation of Adam, a painting in which the arms of God and Adam are stretching toward each other. In 1512, Michelangelo completed the work.
After 15 years as an architect in Florence, Michelangelo returned to Rome in 1534, where he would work and live for the rest of his life. That year saw his painting of the The Last Judgment on the wall above the altar in the Sistine Chapel for Pope Paul III. The massive painting depicts Christ’s damnation of sinners and blessing of the virtuous and is regarded as a masterpiece of early Mannerism.
Michelangelo worked until his death in 1564 at the age of 88. In addition to his major artistic works, he produced numerous other sculptures, frescoes, architectural designs, and drawings, many of which are unfinished and some of which are lost. In his lifetime, he was celebrated as Europe’s greatest living artist, and today he is held up as one of the greatest artists of all time, as exalted in the visual arts as William Shakespeare is in literature or Ludwig van Beethoven is in music.
Sistine Chapel ceiling opens to public. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 2:55, November 1, 2011, from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/sistine-chapel-ceiling-opens-to-public.
NEW YORK (KABC) — The Statue of Liberty turns 125 Friday, and the iconic structure is being celebrated with a high-tech facelift.
Internet-connected cameras have been installed around the torch to offer a different view of New York City.
The city will be hosting festivities all day to commemorate the Statue of Liberty’s dedication on Oct 28, 1886.
The ceremony includes the swearing in of 125 new citizens, a poem reading by Sigourney Weaver and 12-minute Macy’s Fireworks display choreographed to patriotic music.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
(Copyright ©2011 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
in the November 2011 issue of National Geographic
The Staffordshire Hoard, as it was quickly dubbed, electrified the general public and Anglo-Saxon scholars alike. Spectacular discoveries, such as the royal finds at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, had been made in Anglo-Saxon burial sites. But the treasure pulled from Fred Johnson’s field was novel—a cache of gold, silver, and garnet objects from early Anglo-Saxon times and from one of the most important kingdoms of the era. Moreover, the quality and style of the intricate filigree and cloisonné decorating the objects were extraordinary, inviting heady comparisons to such legendary treasures as the Lindisfarne Gospels of the Book of Kells.
Once cataloged, the hoard was found to contain some 3,500 pieces representing hundreds of complete objects. And the items that could be securely identified presented a striking pattern. There were more than 300 sword-hilt fittings, 92 sword-pommel caps, and 10 scabbard pendants. Also noteworthy: There were no coins or women’s jewelry, and out of the entire collection, the three religious objects appeared to be the only nonmartial pieces. Intriguingly, many of the items seemed to have been bent or broken. This treasure, then, was a pile of broken, elite, military hardware hidden 13 centuries ago in a politically and militarily turbulent region. The Staffordshire Hoard was trilling and historic—but above all it was enigmatic.
Read more online here: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/featurehub
The photos below can be viewed in the November 2011 issue of National Geographic http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/11/gold-hoard/clark-photography
©Robert Clark/National Geographic
On a farm near his home Terry Herbert shows off the metal detector that led him to the gold. “I just couldn’t stop the items from coming out of the ground,” he says. He received half the treasure’s assessed value of almost $5.3 million.
©Robert Clark/National Geographic
A figure pocked with nail holes may represent a horse—or a bear, or a boar, or even a wolf. Just 1.6 inches high, it was made by a master goldsmith who knew how to heat the metal almost to melting point to attach the tiny swirls. All artifacts owned by: Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery; Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent.
©Robert Clark/National Geographic
A strip of gold once studded with a gem bears the same biblical quotation in Latin on each side: Moses’ declaration, translated above, as the Israelites journeyed out of Sinai. The object may have decorated the arm of a cross prized by recent converts to Christianity. All artifacts owned by: Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery; Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent.
Also, on October 29, the National Geographic Museum will open an exhibit on the hoard featuring pieces from the collection! In addition, ‘Lost Gold: War, Treasure, and theMystery of the Saxons’ has just been published- the trailer can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1p6dPOQ_AY
Has anyone built a better mousetrap?
By Mary Bellis, About.com Guide
The Little Nipper slams shut in 38,000s of a second and that record has never been beaten. This is the design that has prevailed until today. This mousetrap has captured a sixty percent share of the British mousetrap market alone, and an estimated equal share of the international market.
James Atkinson sold his mousetrap patent in 1913 for 1,000 pounds to Procter, the company that has been manufacturing the “Little Nipper” ever since, and has even erected a 150-exhibit mousetrap museum in their factory headquarters.
American, John Mast of Lititz, Pennsylvania received a patent on his similar snap-trap mousetrap in 1899.
Austin Kness had an idea for a better mousetrap back in the 1920s. The Kness Ketch-All Multiple Catch mousetrap doesn’t use bait. It catches mice alive and can catch several before it needs to be reset.
Did you know that the Patent Office has issued over 4400 mousetrap patents, however, only about twenty of those patents have made any money? Catch a few of the different designs for mousetraps in our mousetrap gallery.
Continue > Gallery of Historical Mousetraps1
A special thanks goes to Michael A Beaven for his consultation on this article.
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U.S. Naval Academy
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U.S. Naval Academy
The U.S. Naval Academy was founded in 1845 by the Secretary of the Navy, George Bancroft, in what is now historic Annapolis, MD.
The United States Naval Academy strives to accomplish its mission to develop midshipmen “morally, mentally, and physically.” The Naval Academy gives young men and women the up-to-date academic and professional training needed to be effective naval and marine officers in their assignments after graduation.
The Universal Newsreel about the opening of the Naval Academy in 1845.
By CHRISTOPHER BONANOS
Published: October 7, 2011
October 7, 2011
The Man Who Inspired Jobs
By CHRISTOPHER BONANOS
IN the memorials to Steven P. Jobs this week, Apple’s co-founder was compared with the world’s great inventor-entrepreneurs: Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell. Yet virtually none of the obituaries mentioned the man Jobs himself considered his hero, the person on whose career he explicitly modeled his own: Edwin H. Land, the genius domus of Polaroid Corporation and inventor of instant photography.
Land, in his time, was nearly as visible as Jobs was in his. In 1972, he made the covers of both Time and Life magazines, probably the only chemist ever to do so. (Instant photography was a genuine phenomenon back then, and Land had created the entire medium, once joking that he’d worked out the whole idea in a few hours, then spent nearly 30 years getting those last few details down.) And the more you learn about Land, the more you realize how closely Jobs echoed him.
Both built multibillion-dollar corporations on inventions that were guarded by relentless patent enforcement. (That also kept the competition at bay, and the profit margins up.) Both were autodidacts, college dropouts (Land from Harvard, Jobs from Reed) who more than made up for their lapsed educations by cultivating extremely refined taste. At Polaroid, Land used to hire Smith College’s smartest art-history majors and send them off for a few science classes, in order to create chemists who could keep up when his conversation turned from Maxwell’s equations to Renoir’s brush strokes.
Most of all, Land believed in the power of the scientific demonstration. Starting in the 60s, he began to turn Polaroid’s shareholders’ meetings into dramatic showcases for whatever line the company was about to introduce. In a perfectly art-directed setting, sometimes with live music between segments, he would take the stage, slides projected behind him, the new product in hand, and instead of deploying snake-oil salesmanship would draw you into Land’s World. By the end of the afternoon, you probably wanted to stay there.
Three decades later, Jobs would do exactly the same thing, except in a black turtleneck and jeans. His admiration for Land was open and unabashed. In 1985, he told an interviewer, “The man is a national treasure. I don’t understand why people like that can’t be held up as models: This is the most incredible thing to be — not an astronaut, not a football player — but this.”
The two men met at least twice. John Sculley, the Apple C.E.O. who eventually clashed with Jobs, was there for one meeting, when Jobs made a pilgrimage to Land’s labs in Cambridge, Mass., and wrote in his autobiography that both men described a singular experience: “Dr. Land was saying: ‘I could see what the Polaroid camera should be. It was just as real to me as if it was sitting in front of me, before I had ever built one.’ And Steve said: ‘Yeah, that’s exactly the way I saw the Macintosh.’ He said, If I asked someone who had only used a personal calculator what a Macintosh should be like, they couldn’t have told me. There was no way to do consumer research on it, so I had to go and create it and then show it to people and say, ‘Now what do you think?’”
The worldview he was describing perfectly echoed Land’s: “Market research is what you do when your product isn’t any good.” And his sense of innovation: “Every significant invention,” Land once said, “must be startling, unexpected, and must come into a world that is not prepared for it. If the world were prepared for it, it would not be much of an invention.” Thirty years later, when a reporter asked Jobs how much market research Apple had done before introducing the iPad, he responded, “None. It isn’t the consumers’ job to know what they want.”
Land, like Jobs, was a perfectionist-aesthete, exhaustively obsessive about product design. The amount he spent on research and development, on buffing out flaws, sometimes left Wall Street analysts discouraging the purchase of Polaroid stock, because they thought the company wasn’t paying enough attention to the bottom line. (When a shareholder once buttonholed Land about that, he responded, “The bottom line is in heaven.”)
His supreme achievement, the folding SX-70 camera of the 1970s, was as covetable a luxury object in its moment as the iPod was 30 years later. At the touch of a hand, it collapsed down to a flat, clean pocketable prism, beautifully finished in brushed chrome and leather. One source says he spent $2 billion — and those are 1960s and early-1970s dollars — on developing the camera and its film. Jobs saw, and Jobs understood: “Not only was he one of the great inventors of our time but, more important, he saw the intersection of art and science and business and built an organization to reflect that.”
And Land was, like Jobs in 1985, all but forced out of the company he’d built. In the mid-’70s, Land threw himself behind a doomed project called Polavision. It was an instant 8-millimeter home-movie system, and a gorgeous bit of technology, and it also took more than a decade to get out of the labs and into stores. By the time it did, it was dead on arrival, clobbered by Sony’s burgeoning Betamax video cameras.
For the first time, Land had spent a fortune and failed to deliver, and colleagues began to question his infallibility. His board had long been hinting that he needed to put a succession plan in place, and, at 70, Land was coaxed into ceding his chairmanship. For the first time, he had to get his research budgets approved, and he chafed at his lack of autonomy. He couldn’t exactly be fired — he was far too knitted into his company’s structure, both financially and spiritually — but, as one colleague put it, “He liked winning, and when in the end he didn’t win all the time, it became very difficult for him.” After a frustrating couple of years, he quit Polaroid in 1982, soon selling all his stock. He even skipped the company’s 50th-anniversary bash five years later.
After their founders departed, both Polaroid and Apple slowly began to lose their edge, their innovation machines gradually cooling down and falling behind other technology companies’. Apple lost a huge amount of its head start to Microsoft and the cheap-PC business; at Polaroid, one-hour photo labs and then digital photography began to encroach, helped along by some management decisions that ultimately backfired. By 1996, Apple was up against a wall, and called its founder back in, who immediately began to perform one of the great turnarounds in business history. (By the time things started to get really tough at Polaroid, there was no going back to the source; Land died in 1991, at 81.)
Polaroid still exists, but it is nothing like the cauldron of innovation that Land and his colleagues built. Since 2001, the company has declared bankruptcy twice and been sold three times. One of the former C.E.O.’s is now serving a 50-year prison sentence for fraud. The company’s newest owners appear to be making a promising move toward the future again, but few people are expecting Polaroid to be the extraordinary scientific think tank, pumping out ideas and profits in tandem, that it once was — or that Apple is. Here’s hoping that Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s new C.E.O., is paying very close attention to the Polaroid cautionary tale.
Christopher Bonanos is an editor at New York magazine. His book about the history of Polaroid will be published next year.