Friday, March 30, 2012

Officer and Laughing Girl (by Vermeer)

'Officer and Laughing Girl'  by Johan Vermeer, 1655-1660.

If you want to super zoom click here.

More paintings by Vermeer at the Google Art Project.

next episode: Monsieur Lefebre

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

blog birthday

why stop at one if you can eat four?

Today I celebrate the 3rd anniversary of this blog!

next episode: Vermeer

Monday, March 26, 2012

Clark Gable & Gene Tierney

Clark Gable and Gene Tierney, 1953

Clark Gable endorsed 2012 Favorite Classic Movie Actress candidate Gene Tierney with the following statement:

“Congratulations to Gene on her victories last week and to all the candidates for a hard fought , thoughtful tournament so far. We face huge challenges, and we need an actress who works to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to watch great movies. Gene Tierney is by far the most qualified candidate in this race, therefore I’m endorsing Gene Tierney for the Favorite Classic Movie Actress of 2012!”

next episode: blog birthday

Saturday, March 24, 2012

McMurdo Station

McMurdo Station. In the background Observation Hill (source)

McMurdo Station is a U.S. Antarctic research center located on the southern tip of Ross Island. It is operated by the United States through the United States Antarctic Program (USAP). The station is the largest community in Antarctica, there are approximately 1000 residents in the summer (November-February) and fewer than 200 residents in the winter.

British explorer Robert Falcon Scott first established a base close to this spot in 1902 and built Discovery Hut, still standing adjacent to the harbor at Hut Point. The United States officially opened its first station at McMurdo on Feb. 16, 1956.

The annual outdoor IceStock music festival on New Years Day (source)

The primary focus of the work done at McMurdo (nicknamed ‘Mac-Town’ by its residents) is science, but most of the residents are not scientists, but station personnel who are there to provide support for operations, logistics, information technology, construction, and maintenance.

Dormatory buildings (source)

Close to McMurdo is a very high hill called Observation Hill (750 ft/230m), nicknamed Ob Hill. It is a volcanic cone. On the hill there is a big wooden cross that serves as a memorial for Robert Falcon Scott and his South Pole expedition team members.

In the background the Royal Society (mountain) Range (source)

Temperatures during the dark winter months at McMurdo Station have dropped as low as −59 °F (−51 °C). December and January are the warmest months, with average highs at 30 °F (−1 °C) and 31 °F (−1 °C) respectively


next episode: Gene

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ross Island

Ross Island.  McMurdo Sound is visible to the left. Green=ice shelf.

Ross Island is an island formed by four volcanoes in the McMurdo Sound. It is about 45 miles wide and about 25 miles off the coast of the Antarctic mainland. Because of the persistent presence of the ice sheet, the island is sometimes taken to be part of Antarctica. Sir James Clark Ross discovered it in 1841, and it was later named in honor of him by Robert F. Scott. 

The Earth’s southernmost active volcano, Erebus (3,794 m/12,448 ft), as well as the dormant volcano Terror (3,230 m/10,597 ft), are situated on the island. They were named by Ross after his ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. 

Scott’s 1911 hut (built for the ill-fated Terra Nova expedition) at Cape Evans, with Erebus in the background (source).

Ross Island has been used as a base for a hundred years because it has a large amount of rocky, snow-free land and it is the farthest-south land in Antarctica accessible by ship (although open ocean doesn't reach McMurdo every year). It was the base for many of the early expeditions to Antarctica. Huts built by Scott's (1902, 1911) and Shackleton's (1908) expeditions are still standing on the island, preserved as historical sites.

The nose of the Barne Glacier on Ross Island (located between Shackleton's and Scott's 1911 hut).
It is from the front of glaciers like this that icebergs calve off (source).

Antarctica's largest science base, the United States' McMurdo Station, as well as New Zealand’s Scott Base are located on the island’s south shore.

next episode: McMurdo Station

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

McMurdo Sound

McMurdo Sound (looking South) (source

The southern-most solid ground of Antarctica that is accessible by ship is reached via the McMurdo Sound. It extends about 35 miles (55 km) long and wide and it is about 800 miles (1.300 km) away from the South Pole. To the east is Ross Island located.

McMurdo Sound (top=North, dotted blue = coastal/bay ice, darker blue = ice shelf) 

The sound is named after Lt. Archibald McMurdo of HMS Terror, who first charted the area in 1841 under the command of British explorer captain James Clark Ross.

red dot = McMurdo Sound (top: Australia & N-Zealand, right: S-America)

British explorers Ernest Shackleton and Robert Scott built bases on the sound's shoreline as jumping-off points for their overland expeditions to the South Pole. Scott's team froze to death while returning from the South Pole. He hoped his expedition would be the first to reach the pole, but when they got there on January 17, 1912, they found a tent with a note in it from the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. Amundsen made it to the South Pole just 34 days before Scott, on December 14, 1911.

An Emperior Penguin at Beaufort Island (by cherieann2003)

Beaufort Island is the small island at the northern entrance to the McMurdo Sound, it is a protected area due to its site as a penguin rookery.

next episode: Ross Island

Monday, March 19, 2012

Antarctica Without Ice Sheet

Deglaciated Antarctic Topography: Antarctica without ice (source)

Beneath the ice of Antarctica there is a continent of mountain ranges, deep valleys, plains, and inland seas, for the most part invisible but for a few features that stick out above the ice.

The map shown above shows Antarctica without its ice sheet. It takes into account the so-called isostatic rise of the land surface that would occur after the weight of the ice was removed, and a sea level rise by an amount equal to the volume of the water locked up as ice.

Antarctica compared in size with the USA.

next episode: McMurdo Sound

Friday, March 16, 2012

Virtual Reassembly of the Titanic Wreckage.

A virtual reassembly of the Titanic wreckage.

On April 15, exactly 100 years after the Titanic sank, the History Channel will air a special about new discoveries on the sinking of the Titanic.

An American expedition team used two robot vehicles to scan the ocean bottom day and night with sonar cameras, moving at 3 mph back and forth in a grid pattern. The robots emitted sound pulses and registered the echoes. The results were converted into 130.000 high-resolution digital images. When stitched together they provide a detailed map of the Titanic disaster debris field.

When the ship began to sink it split apart and the two halves settled almost half a mile apart. The digital images now reveal that the stern rotated like a helicopter blade, smashing into the sea floor 2.5 miles down at considerable speed. The bow, on the other hand, plunged straight down and landed relatively gently. source & more info.

Artist impression of the bow (source).

next episodes: Antarctica week !

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

William Munro

William Munro’s unit in the Crimea: (FLTR) Major Leckie; Major Hudson; Lieutenant-Colonel Tinley; Major Strachan; Lieutenant-Colonel Munro; Sergeant Major Jobberns. Photo by Roger Fenton, 1855.

William Munro (1818-1880) was born in Druids Stoke, Gloucestershire in 1818. He entered the 39th Regiment of Foot as an ensign in 1834. He was promoted Lieutenant in 1836, Captain in 1844, Mayor in 1852 and Lieutenant Colonel in 1853.

His unit arrived at Balaclava, Crimea on New Year's Eve 1854. They immediately moved into the siege-lines around Sebastopol. Although there were periodic sorties, the bulk of their time was spent in the trenches. They left the Crimea in May 1856. In 1878 he achieved the rank of a General.

Munro was also a botanist. During the military expeditions he collected and studied many plants. He was a experienced agrostologist and considered to be the greatest authority in the study of grasses. In 1886 he published a study describing all the 219 bamboo species then known. Munro also gave his name to a number of plants.

next episode: Hoop Dress Sisters part III

Friday, March 9, 2012

Gorilla Sideburns

Cornelius Vanderbilt (left) and Lobo the Gorilla.

The Sepia Saturday theme for this week is facial hair. I’ve always been fascinated by the 19th century extravagant sideburns (named after American Civil War general Ambrose Burnside). I think it’s a pity they went out of style. Luckily gorillas still think they are fashionable. Even the females appreciate them! Shown here is Lobo, a female gorilla residing in the Apenheul Primate Park.

A prime example of sideburn lovers are the Vanderbilt family. During the Gilded Age they were one the richest families on Earth. Their fortune was founded by Cornelius, who at the age of 16 started a ferry service between Staten Island and Manhattan.

William H. Vanderbilt (Harper's weekly, December 1885).

His son William Henry Vanderbilt, frequently called a blatherskite by his father, managed to double the fortune, making him the richest man in the world (peak wealth: $231.6 billion).

next episode: William Munro

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Elsje Christiaens (by Rembrandt)

Elsje Christiaens Hanging on a Gibbet, by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1664 (Havemeyer Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).

In the spring of 1664, Elsje Christiaens (or Christians) was an 18-year old Danish girl who left her home in Denmark to seek a new life in booming Amsterdam where she wanted to make a living as a maid. She found a room in a boarding house on the Damrak. After two weeks she still hadn’t found a job and she couldn’t pay the rent. She got into an argument with the landlady who threatened to take Elsje’s few belongings away. The argument escalated when the landlady grabbed a broom and Elsje grabbed an axe that was lying around. Elsje hit the landlady who fell into the cellar and lay dead.

Elsje panicked and jumped into the water of the Damrak. Bystanders helped her out of the water and she was brought before the city magistrates who questioned her. After her confession she was sentenced to death by strangling at a garrote while being hit on the head by the murder weapon. She was executed at the central Dam square. Her body was displayed “to be digested by the air and the birds” at the gallow field outside the city. It hung on a gibbet, together with the axe, to deter others. There she was drawn by the then 57-year old Rembrandt.

next episode: ?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Maude Fealy Day !

"Miss Fealey is a Colorado girl, having graduated from the Denver Stock Company. She comes of a theatrical family, and is the youngest actress in America playing leading rôles. She is now leading woman in the E. S. Willard Company." .

- The Theatre Magazine, May 1903 -

Maude was born March 4, 1883. She passed away at the age of 88 in 1971 (the year I was born BTW).

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Waterloo Veteran of the Month: Monsieur Moret

Seated in a grand hussar uniform is Monsieur Moret of the 2nd Regiment of 1814-15.

These remarkable photographs provide probably the only surviving images of veterans of the Grande Armée and the Guard actually wearing their uniforms and insignia, although some of the uniforms have obviously been recut by tailors of the 1850s. Each is a formal portrait of an individual gentleman photographed in a studio.


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