Monday, September 9, 2013

Photograpy, Photograpi* (for Photography, Photographi*)

Today in 1839, England's Sir John Herschel created the first photographic glass-plate negative. He even coined the word photography from the Greek for "drawing with light" (unaware that H√©rcules Florence had come up with the French word photographie several years earlier). Besides being an experimental photographer, as well as an inventor, Herschel was also a mathematician, an astronomer, and a chemist. He was into things like color blindness and ultraviolet rays. A sampling of his many accomplishments includes the following: he originated the "Julian Day" system for use by astronomers; he named seven moons of Saturn and four moons of Uranus; he designed a "practical contact lens" in 1823; he wrote "A preliminary discourse on the study of natural philosophy" as part of Dionysius Lardner's Cabinet Cyclop√¶dia (an effort that inspired Charles Darwin with a "burning zeal" to also make a contribution); he won many prestigious medals, awards, and accolades; he published a compilation of his own and his father's works called A General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters; and, oh yeah, in his spare time, he fathered twelve children. He was a scientific superstar. In 1834, after he and his wife Margaret had traveled to South Africa for reasons astral, Herschel suddenly found himself looking the other way—and stopping to smell the flowers. Happily out of the spotlight for a few years, Herschel photographed Cape Town's plant life with a camera lucida, while Margaret filled in the details. Together they produced 131 highly regarded botanical drawings, many of which were collected and published in 1996 as Flora Herscheliana. John Herschel once wrote: "Words are to the Anthropologist what rolled pebbles are to the Geologist—battered relics of past ages often containing within them indelible records capable of intelligent interpretation..." With that image in mind, please attend to the proper spelling of these photographic words, typos for which were discovered 43 (plus nine) times in OhioLINK and 295 (+ 364) times in WorldCat.

(Sir John Herschel, by Julia Margaret Cameron, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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