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Archive for the ‘Discovery’ Category

Donkey-Elephant Display Base, ca. 1956

Donkey-Elephant Display Base, ca. 1956. Cornell University Library, Rare & Manuscript Collections, Susan H. Douglas Political Americana Collection

Take a deep breath, the presidential debates are finally over. But brace yourselves, we still have a couple of weeks of campaigning left until the actual elections. Why the negative tone? Well, the Washington Post reported that “59 percent of Americans are sick and tired of the election”–and that was way back in July! And we’re not just sick and tired, we’re also stressed: in a more recent poll by the American Psychological Association, 52 percent of American adults said the upcoming election is a significant source of stress.

Can we interest you in a tour of more innocent days from Cornell University’s Political Americana Collection in Shared Shelf Commons? Days in which campaigns featured such lighthearted items as songs like “Grant is the Man,” promoting Ulysses S. Grant, or “Let’s O-K, I-K-E,” about Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower.

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Hablot Knight Browne, The London Stereoscopic Company; The Ghost in the stereoscope; 1856 - 1859. Image and original data provided by Rijksmuseum: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl

Hablot Knight Browne, The London Stereoscopic Company. The Ghost in the stereoscope, 1856 – 1859. Image and original data provided by Rijksmuseum: http://www.rijksmuseum.nl

In 1862, amateur photographer William H. Mumler of Boston took a self-portrait in his studio, unaware of a ghostly apparition lurking directly behind him. It wasn’t until he viewed the resulting image of a pellucid arm draped casually across his shoulder that he realized the camera must have exposed the lingering spirit of his deceased cousin. With this eerie, novel image, Mumler, a jewelry engraver by trade, became the first of many photographers to claim having photographed a spirit. Photographs like Mumler’s provided timely evidence that spirits of the deceased freely interacted with the world of the living–a discovery he would milk for profit within the framework of the Spiritualist movement.

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The Christian festival of Michaelmas, also known as the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, is celebrated in many parts of the world on September 29.

Michaelmas celebrates the story of Saint Michael defeating Satan, which is often depicted in the motif of Saint George and the Dragon, Saint George being the Archangel Michael’s earthly counterpart. The earliest depictions of this story go all the way back to the 10th century. The images of Saint George fighting the dragon in the Artstor Digital Library span centuries. (more…)

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We invited Stanton Belford, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology at Martin Methodist College, to tell us about his three Marine Biology collections in Shared Shelf Commons: Red Sea, Trinidad, and Key Largo.

Bearded fireworm

Bearded fireworm (Hermodice carunculata). From the Martin Methodist College Marine Biology Collection: Trinidad

Before describing the marine biology digital collections, I would like to mention I first became interested in marine science thanks to my high school teacher, who allowed us to experience informal science education with the reefs as our classroom. Here I saw a kaleidoscope of colors bursting through the ocean’s blue: corals, fishes, invertebrates, all hidden underwater, just waiting for my eager eyes to discover them.

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 Southworth & Hawes, Early Operation Using Ether for Anesthesia, late spring 1847. Image and original data provided by The J. Paul Getty Museum

Southworth & Hawes, Early Operation Using Ether for Anesthesia, late spring 1847. Image and original data provided by The J. Paul Getty Museum

In 1846, dentist William T. G. Morton assembled a group of doctors in the operating theater at Massachusetts General Hospital, a sky-lit dome located on the hospital’s top floor. As the doctors watched from the dome’s stadium seating, Morton waved a sponge soaked in a mysterious substance called Letheon inches from his patient’s face. The patient quickly lost consciousness and remained completely still as a surgeon removed a tumor from his neck. Upon waking, the patient declared to his astonished audience that he had felt no pain. This surgery marked the first time the effective and safe use of anesthesia was demonstrated publicly, ending centuries of agonizing pain during surgery. It would also quickly spiral into a dramatic controversy surrounding Letheon’s discovery.

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Bhaja Caves, Caves 6 & 7; 2nd c. BCE-1st c. CE; Maharashtra, India. Image and original data provided by David Efurd © David Efurd

Bhaja Caves, Caves 6 & 7; 2nd c. BCE-1st c. CE; Maharashtra, India. Image and original data provided by David Efurd © David Efurd

Professor David Efurd’s collection of nearly 10,000 photographs of Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain art and architecture was recently released in the Artstor Digital Library. We were particularly impressed by the variety and complexity of the rock-cut cave temples he photographed, and he was kind enough to answer our questions.

Artstor: What is the importance of caves as the sites of some of these temples, as opposed to more typical, free-standing temples?

David Efurd: Regarding Buddhist caves, monks appear to have lived in natural caves and rock-shelters since the time of the Buddha. In fact, texts describe the Buddha as spending nights in caves at a variety of locations in northeastern India. Over time, simple shelters were enlarged by cutting away stone, and masonry walls may have been added to the front to make them more architectural.

In western India, these Buddhist sites are a bit later, perhaps dating from the second century BC at the earliest. Unlike the caves the Buddha lived in, they do not appear to be natural caves that were enlarged. Rather, they were carved deeply into outcroppings of stone or cliffs and tend to be architectonic, meaning that they resemble the interior spaces of architecture, despite being hewn into stone. Few free-standing buildings and monasteries from this period survive, so these caves provide crucial insight into a tradition of architecture that has all but disappeared. Rock-cut or cave architecture from this period draws upon both this early tradition of living in natural caves and the later monastic complexes consisting of residential buildings and places for instruction and worship. (more…)

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By Joseph Costello, Medical Librarian, Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine

Head of Laocoon, c. 100. Foto Reali Archive, National Gallery of Art, Department of Image Collections.

Head of Laocoon, c. 100. Foto Reali Archive, National Gallery of Art, Department of Image Collections.

Prompt: Imagine the human expression of anguish. An amalgamation of stories, artwork, and social interactions blend together and you have your general concept of the human expression: anguish. The concept of anguish is correct to you since it is, after all, your portrayal; the anguish concept is a component in the overall conceptual framework you have constructed to assess emotional expressions. How accurate are you? In other words, how accurate are your visual detection skills of anguish or other emotions, how generalizable?

Accurate interpretation of facial expressions—the aggregate of minute facial movements we make, i.e. micro expressions—is believed to be associated with increased emotional intelligence. Researchers have shown that facial expressions can be generalized and successfully be a part of empathy training. Similarly, modern medicine generalizes the human body to find the distribution of values which in turn help generate a normal range.

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