Trailblazing 18th-Century Mathematician Émilie du Châtelet, Who Popularized Newton, on Gender in Science and the Nature of Genius – Brain Pickings

Émilie du Châtelet (Portrait by Maurice Quentin de La Tour)

A century before Ada Lovelace became the world’s first computer programmer, a century before the word “scientist” was coined for the Scottish polymath Mary Somerville, another woman of towering genius and determination subverted the limiting opportunities her era afforded her and transcended what…

Source: Trailblazing 18th-Century Mathematician Émilie du Châtelet, Who Popularized Newton, on Gender in Science and the Nature of Genius – Brain Pickings

June 10, 1793: At the Zoo | Wretched Richard’s Almanac

Originally created as a royal herb garden in the 1600s, the Jardin des Plantes opened in 1793. During the following year a ménagerie was added, the world’s first and, still in existence, toda…

Source: June 10, 1793: At the Zoo | Wretched Richard’s Almanac

Why Did the Viking Trading Town of Kaupang Totally Disappear? – ThorNews

The first trading towns in Scandinavia were established at the same time as the first Viking raids took place on the British Isles and the continent: Birka in Sweden, Hedeby and Ribe in Denmark and Kaupang in Norway.

“Kaupang”, which translates from “kaupangr” in Old Norse to “market” or “trading place” in English, was strategically placed in a narrow bay in Sikiringssal by the outlet of the Oslo Fjord, five kilometers northeast of Larvik in Vestfold.

Excavations confirm that the town was established in the years 780-800 AD, and for unknown reasons was abandoned about year 930.The trading place was divided into many small plots with…

Source: Why Did the Viking Trading Town of Kaupang Totally Disappear? – ThorNews

Unique Finds: Unknown Photographs by Explorer Roald Amundsen Discovered

Unique: Unknown historical photographs owned by Roald Amundsen has recently been discovered inside this chest. (Photo: Follo Museum)

Thousands of photographs – some new motifs and some of better quality than publicized images, documents and lectures. 80 years after the Norwegian state took over polar explorer Roald Amundsen’s home Uranienborg outside Oslo a very special chest has been discovered.

On November 22 earlier this year, director at Follo Museum, Henrik Smith found his way into a storage room inside the old house.

– As previous conservator-restorer, I am triggered to open all sealed boxes to see if they may contain objects of importance that require different storage conditions, says Henrik Smith to newspaper Aftenposten.

– At the back of the room, covered by documents and vinyl records, stands a chest. I clear my way to reach it, and to my amazement, the inscription…

Source: Unique Finds: Unknown Photographs by Explorer Roald Amundsen Discovered

What Happened To Medieval Battlefields After the Fighting Was Over?

History Wench

It looks much like you’d expect: there was a lot of opportunistic looting after a battle. Sometimes, if the armour was old or broken, and the victorious army didn’t want to lug it home to recycle the materials, it might be left on the bodies. You see this at the graveyard from the Battle of Visby (1361), whose archaeological excavation found a number of bodies buried in old, outdated armour that apparently wasn’t worth saving. In some cases, the valuable pieces were chopped off the dead and carried away; the recently discovered Staffordshire hoard (7th century) contains bits of gold that were broken off swords, a helmet, and other things most likely looted from a battlefield, carried off to a crossroads, and buried for later recovery (this is the most recent interpretation, at least). Of course, the victors could upgrade their own equipment from those that had died. In fact, the 9th…

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June 15, 1937: Reefer Madness | Wretched Richard’s Almanac

Originally posted on Wretched Richard’s Almanac.

In 1937, Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act which levied a tax of one dollar on anyone who dealt commercially in marijuana. The bill had been written using the slang term “marihuana” throughout, obscuring the fact that it covered the plant’s legitimate uses in medicine, where it was broadly known as cannabis and in the fiber industry as hemp. The Act did not itself criminalize their possession, but regulations and restrictions on the sale of cannabis as a drug had been around since the previous century. In effect, the bill made it impossible for anyone to deal with call it what you will in any form.

Conspiracy theorists (remember them?) maintained that business tycoons Andrew Mellon, Randolph Hearst, and the Du Pont family were behind passage of the Act as a way to reduce the size of the hemp industry. Hemp had become a very cheap…

via June 15, 1937: Reefer Madness | Wretched Richard’s Almanac.

But gentlemen marry brunettes

SCRATCH POST

Once upon a time, long, long ago, longer than the first BB creams, or plastic surgery, longer ago than the film of How To Marry a Millionaire, longer even than the age of Flappers and their shingle bobs, when Anita Loos wrote Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and its sequel, But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, longer than when unstoppable American heiresses married into the British and European aristocracy, longer ago than universal suffrage and universal education, at a time when the only universally accepted truth for a woman’s fate was in the marriage market, there lived two beautiful, but very poor, dark-haired sisters known as the Gunning Beauties.

They became A-list celebrities of their day, Cinderellas who escaped from genteel poverty in Ireland – so poor that they had to try earning a living on the stage – to social ascendancy in England through marriage to aristocrats – fine, if you…

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Foreshades of Grey (11)

SCRATCH POST

 or, Behind the Rococo Clock Face

detaildetail of Boucher’s 1756 portrait of Madame de Pompadour

Among the learned books in Madame de Pompadour’s library, there was a unique volume about the rivers of France which had been written, and some of it printed, many years before by a diligent and inquisitive eight year old boy, based on his lessons in geography and typography.

Louis XV’s Cours des principaux fleuves et rivières de l’Europe (Courses of the Principal Rivers and Streams of Europe), written in 1718, which the adult man gave to his mistress as a token of the conscientious king that the playboy of Versailles had once wanted to be, survives in the Bibliothèque nationale.

The little print shop, which was built for Louis XV in the Tuileries nearly sixty-five years before Marie Antoinette’s fantasy-farm was installed at Le Petit Trianon, had a serious educative purpose to instill…

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Foreshades of Grey (6)

SCRATCH POST

or, The Royal Stag

The king’s promiscuity was an affair of state. It made government vulnerable to abuse from the wrong kind of woman pushed on him by a court faction, with domestic or foreign policy agendas, a scenario as familiar to modern republics as autocracies of any time. He was very lucky to find the rational, loyal and responsible Madame de Pompadour, or rather, that she introduced herself to him.

louis XV

Nattier, Portrait of Louis XV of France, 1745. Oil on canvas The Hermitage, St. Petersburg
He was known as the handsomest man at Versailles; he was also the most libidinous and depressed. Here, portrayed in the year he moved his new mistress Madame d’Étioles, into Versailles, he looks disconcertingly like a chubby Dan Stevens, but Ryan Gosling would be better casting to convey his enigmatic emotional isolation.

He needed but was not obsessed with sex; he spent far…

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FGM and the Demise of Foot Binding – a Repost

toritto

the illusion

Foot binding –

“the custom of binding the feet of young girls painfully tight to prevent further growth. The practice likely originated in the Southern Tang Dynasty in Nanking but spread to upper class families and eventually became common among all classes. The tiny narrow feet were considered beautiful and to make a woman’s movements more feminine and dainty. Although reformers challenged the practice, it was not until the early 20th century that footbinding began dying out, partly from changing social conditions and partly as a result of anti-foot binding campaigns.

Foot-binding resulted in lifelong disabilities for most of its subjects and some elderly Chinese women still survive today with disabilities related to their bound feet” – from Wikipedia.

Foot binding first appeared in the upper classes and nobility and it seems fairly clear that it was intended to show that the daughters of the wealthy would be…

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Mediterranean Diet an Ancient Greek Invention, University of Exeter Study Says | ChaniaPost.eu

Ancient Greek doctors were the ones who invented the infamous Mediterranean diet, as Hippocratic physicians used rich flavors in food in order to treat their patients, a new study from the British University of Exeter revealed, according to the Daily Mail.

The experts at the University of Exeter studied texts of ancient Greek doctors and found that they believed rich flavors could improve the food’s nutritional potency, while one of them, Galen of Pergamon, prescribed food recipes containing garlic and onions to patients. According to the same study, their work laid the principals of modern Mediterranean cooking, considered among the world’s healthiest. At the same time, ancient Greek philosopher Plato wrote about the importance of food in health, while Hippocrates said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

As Professor John Wilkins, an expert on Greek Culture at the University of Exeter, explained to Daily Mail, ancient Greek physicians “take flavor as a measure of nutritional potency because that property of astringency in unripe apples or pungency in onions…

via Mediterranean Diet an Ancient Greek Invention, University of Exeter Study Says | ChaniaPost.eu.