The ESP Timeline (one of the site's most popular features) has been completely updated to allow the user to select (using the timeline controls above each column) different topics for the left and right sides of the display.
New Left Column
New Left Column
New Right Column
New Right Column
Painting by Jacob von Ruisdale: The Jewish Cemetery is an oil on canvas painting. It is an example of Dutch Golden Age painting and is now in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts. This painting was documented by John Smith in 1835, who wrote: "This grand and affecting picture exhibits the ruins of a church and convent upon the summit of a hill, occupying the whole extent of the view in the second distance, the declivity of which presents a cemetery, interspersed with large stones. On the foreground are a broken tree lying across a rapid stream, a tomb of black marble, with an inscription on it; a row of three sarcophagi extending along the front; and on the left stands a cluster of large umbrageous trees, the verdant hues of whose foliage is contrasted by the leafless trunk of a beech. Three persons in black are seen near a small tomb on the side of the hill, musing amidst the tombs. The grandeur and solemnity of the scene is strikingly enhanced by rolling stormy clouds, in which may be perceived the evanescent colours of a rainbow.
Foundation of the Royal Society, London, for the promotion of mathematical and physical science.
Painting by Charles Le Brun: The Family of Darius Before Alexander represents the scene when the Queen of Persia is kneeling at the feet of Alexander the Great.
Robert Boyle publishes The Sceptical Chymist helping to transform alchemy into chemistry. Though an alchemist himself with his own cache of secret notebooks, Boyle begins writing up experiments for use by others.
Painting by Rembrandt: The Syndics of the Drapers Guild
(no entry for this year)
(no entry for this year)
German physician Otto von Guericke pieces together bones from different species to make a fossil "unicorn."
Painting by Frans Hals The Governors of the Almshouse is a regents' group portrait of five regents and their servant painted by Frans Hals in 1664 for the Oude Mannenhuis in Haarlem, the Netherlands. It forms a pendant with the Regentesses of the Old Men's Almshouse. Though it is no longer known which name belongs with which face, the regents portrayed were Jonas de Jong, Mattheus Everzwijn, dr. Cornelis Westerloo, Daniel Deinoot and Johannes Walles. Frans Hals painted them in his "loose style", with rough brush strokes. The painting is traditionally dated 1664, though no archival evidence has yet been found to confirm this. The date is chosen as the middle of the term that the sitters served as regents. Though the paintings as pendants seem to belong together, they did not hang together, and as was the case in the St. Elisabeth hospital across the street, they probably each hung in a separate regents' meeting room; the one for the ladies in the ladies' meeting room and the one for the men in the men's meeting room.
In his private museum in Rome, Virgilio Romano exhibits a Hippopotamus major canine tooth found in Pleistocene gravels along the Via Nomentana.
Thomas Willis publishes The Anatomy of the Brain and Nerves.
Isaac Newton discovers that white light is composed of different colors.
Painting by Rembrandt The Jewish Bride
Robert Hooke observes cork under a microscope and uses the word cells to describe the tiny chambers that he sees. He publishes drawings of these cells, of fleas, and of other small creatures, in his book Micrographia.
Le Journal des Savants is first published in France, and Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society is first published in England.
Painting by Jacob von Oost: The Painter's Studio
Gravity is discovered.
Painting by Jan Vermeer: The Art of Painting is one of Vermeer's most famous. In 1868 Thoré-Bürger, known today for his rediscovery of the work of painter Johannes Vermeer, regarded this painting as his most interesting. Svetlana Alpers describes it as unique and ambitious; Walter Liedtke "as a virtuoso display of the artist's power of invention and execution, staged in an imaginary version of his studio ..." According to Albert Blankert "No other painting so flawlessly integrates naturalistic technique, brightly illuminated space, and a complexly integrated composition." Many art historians think that it is an allegory of painting, hence the alternative title of the painting. Its composition and iconography make it the most complex Vermeer work of all.
Niels Stensen (Steno) describes his dissection of the head of a giant white shark and correctly identifies shark teeth, still generally thought (despite arguments to the contrary from Rondelet and Colonna in the preceding century) to be serpent tongues.
(no entry for this year)
Natural historian John Somner finds woolly rhino teeth near Canterbury in Kent, and figures they might be the remains of a sea monster. As he will die before he can publish his conclusions, his brother William will print his article A Brief Relation of Some Strange Bones There Lately Digged Up In Some Grounds of Mr. John Somner.
Francesco Redi publishes Esperienze Intorno alla Generazione degli Insetti (Experiments on the Generation of Insects), which is regarded as his masterpiece and a milestone in the history of modern science. At the time, prevailing wisdom was that maggots arose spontaneously from rotting meat. Redi took six jars and divided them into two groups of three: In one experiment, in the first jar of each group, he put an unknown object; in the second, a dead fish; in the last, a raw chunk of veal. Redi covered the tops of the first group of jars with fine gauze so that only air could get into it. He left the other group open. After several days, he saw maggots appear on the objects in the open jars, on which flies had been able to land, but not in the gauze-covered jars. In the second experiment, meat was kept in three jars. One of the jars was uncovered, and two of the jars were covered, one with cork and the other one with gauze. Flies could only enter the uncovered jar, and in this, maggots appeared. In the jar that was covered with gauze, maggots appeared on the gauze but did not survive. Knowing full well the terrible fates of out-spoken thinkers such as Giordano Bruno and Galileo Galilei, Redi was careful to express his new views in a manner that would not contradict theological tradition of the Church; hence, his interpretations were always based on biblical passages, such as his famous adage: omne vivum ex vivo ("All life comes from life").
Jan Swammerdam dissects a caterpillar for Cosimo de Medici, demonstrating that the butterfly wings already exist inside the caterpillar's body. A year later, he will publish Historia Insectorum Generalis.
Robert Hooke presents a lecture to the Royal Society claiming that earthquakes, not the biblical flood, have caused fossils to be found on mountaintops and buried in stone.
Painting by Willem Kalf: Still Life with a Chinese Porcelain Jar is a sumptuous still life displaying the sort of costly wares that flowed through the Netherlands during its heyday as a trade center. In Still Life with a Chinese Porcelain Jar, Kalf selected an array of precious objects with which to showcase the wealth and refinement of the Netherlands and his own skills as a painter. Everything is expensive, imported, or both. The citrus fruit, glassware from Venice, and Chinese porcelain jar are evidence of Dutch sailors' enterprise. Local talent is displayed by Dutch silver and a rummer, or wineglass, with a cherub holding a cornucopia at its base. They stand on a marble tabletop with a carelessly crumpled oriental rug. Amid all that luxury is a lesson: a ticking watch on the silver platter reminds the viewer that such earthly riches are fleeting, and worth far less than eternal salvation. The carefully balanced composition, rich colors, and warm tonalities make this painting an object of beauty as well as moral edification.
Niels Stensen (Steno) publishes Forerunner, showing diagrammatic sections of the Tuscany area geology, making the important point that sediments are deposited in horizontal layers.
Brandt discovers phosphorus.
In the early 1990's, Robert Robbins was a faculty member at Johns Hopkins, where he directed the informatics core of GDB — the human gene-mapping database of the international human genome project. To share papers with colleagues around the world, he set up a small paper-sharing section on his personal web page. This small project evolved into The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project.
In 1995, Robbins became the VP/IT of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA. Soon after arriving in Seattle, Robbins secured funding, through the ELSI component of the US Human Genome Project, to create the original ESP.ORG web site, with the formal goal of providing free, world-wide access to the literature of classical genetics.
Although the methods of molecular biology can seem almost magical to the uninitiated, the original techniques of classical genetics are readily appreciated by one and all: cross individuals that differ in some inherited trait, collect all of the progeny, score their attributes, and propose mechanisms to explain the patterns of inheritance observed.
In reading the early works of classical genetics, one is drawn, almost inexorably, into ever more complex models, until molecular explanations begin to seem both necessary and natural. At that point, the tools for understanding genome research are at hand. Assisting readers reach this point was the original goal of The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project.
Usage of the site grew rapidly and has remained high. Faculty began to use the site for their assigned readings. Other on-line publishers, ranging from The New York Times to Nature referenced ESP materials in their own publications. Nobel laureates (e.g., Joshua Lederberg) regularly used the site and even wrote to suggest changes and improvements.
When the site began, no journals were making their early content available in digital format. As a result, ESP was obliged to digitize classic literature before it could be made available. For many important papers — such as Mendel's original paper or the first genetic map — ESP had to produce entirely new typeset versions of the works, if they were to be available in a high-quality format.
Early support from the DOE component of the Human Genome Project was critically important for getting the ESP project on a firm foundation. Since that funding ended (nearly 20 years ago), the project has been operated as a purely volunteer effort. Anyone wishing to assist in these efforts should send an email to Robbins.
With the development of methods for adding typeset side notes to PDF files, the ESP project now plans to add annotated versions of some classical papers to its holdings. We also plan to add new reference and pedagogical material. We have already started providing regularly updated, comprehensive bibliographies to the ESP.ORG site.
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