Category Archives: Science and Technology

“Photography helps people to see”-Berenice Abbott

By Johna Till Johnson

Photographs by Berenice Abbott

pike_and_henry_street_by_berenice_abbott_in_1936

Pike and Henry Street by Berenice Abbott, 1936

It was one of those Facebook memes that occasionally goes around. “Let’s fill Facebook with art! Like if you want to participate, and I’ll give you an artist to post on your Facebook page.”

The poster, David, is a longtime friend with wide-ranging artistic interests and great taste, so I signed up. Besides, we can all use a little art in the dark days of February, right?

David assigned me Berenice Abbott. I’d never heard of her—though even a photography newbie like me immediately recognized some of her iconic NYC photographs. I spent a delighted evening reviewing her life and work and reading her brief Wikipedia biography. If you haven’t heard of her, I encourage you to do so, too–she was one of the great 20th-century artists of the “realist” school. Her quote about photography helping people to see resonates very strongly with me right now, as I work to develop my eye.

A delightful discovery: She developed several cutting-edge techniques for scientific photography, and in fact illustrated a 1958 high school physics textbook (an article about which appeared in Forbes Magazine recently).

Enjoy!

pennstationinteriormanhattan

Penn Station Interior, Manhattan by Berenice Abbott 1936

blossom_restaurant_103_bowery_by_berenice_abbott_in_1935

Blossom Restaurant by Berenice Abbott, 1935

 

Our Easter Egg Science Project

By Johna Till Johnson and Vladimir Brezina

Easter egg science project 1It was bound to happen.

Take a scientist and an engineer, add a kit designed for children, and you’ll end up with a science project.

A few days ago (on the first day of spring, to be exact), we decided to color Easter eggs. We’re not sure whose idea it was (each of us says it originated with the other), but regardless: There we were with 14 hard-boiled eggs and the same PAAS egg-dyeing kit that Johna remembered from childhood. (In Czechoslovakia, too, a country nominally communist but where Easter traditions were hard to uproot, Vlad had something very similar.)

We set to work. The dye tablets fizzed in the vinegar, the appropriate amount of water was added, and the first six eggs were happily soaking in their colors. And then one of us noticed something:

“Hey, what are those lines?” As the dye deepened, several of the eggs were showing white lines, two per egg, circumscribing the eggs and trisecting them neatly. Why was this happening?

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Up and Back

By Johna Till Johnson

You go on a trip. You come back. Nothing remarkable about that.

Return of Falcon 9

Return of Falcon 9’s first stage (photo by SpaceX)

Unless you’re a rocket,  and you’ve gone up into space and then returned to land upright. Which is what Falcon 9, the rocket launched by SpaceX, Elon Musk’s company, did on Monday, December 21.

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Falcon 9 launch and return, December 21, 2015

Long exposure showing the launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and then the return of the rocket’s first stage to a landing back at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (photo by SpaceX)

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Fearsome Sails, Ancient and Modern

By Vladimir Brezina

Sailors have always put fierce images on their sails to intimidate their enemies:

Ancient Greek trireme        … the ancient Greeks

Viking longship

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… the Vikings

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… and now—

... and now

… sailing forth to intimidate, at least, their brand’s enemies.

Tugboat Race 2015

By Vladimir Brezina

Tugboat Race 64

Ah, the familiar first signs of Fall: the first crisp days and chilly nights, trees beginning to turn color here and there, migrating geese honking overhead…

And, of course, the Tugboat Race.

Tugboat Race 49Every year on Labor Day Sunday, the Working Harbor Committee brings together, in the Hudson River off Midtown Manhattan, a collection of New York Harbor tugs—those that can spare a rare half-day off work—to engage in

Tugboat Race 73various feats of tugboat strength: a race, nose-to-nose pushing contests, a line-throwing competition, and, for the kids as well as hyper-competitive tugboat captains, a spinach-eating contest.

We’ve attended the last three years, and written quite a bit about the occasion (in 2012, 2013, and 2014). So let’s go straight to the photos of this year’s event, the 23rd Annual Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition!

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Move

By Vladimir Brezina

Move!

Move 1

No, you move!

Move 2

In NYC, gridlock doesn’t just happen on land…

Move 3

Scenes from this year’s Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition. Many more photos to come!

A contribution to Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge, Move.

Angles

By Vladimir Brezina

Acute angles, right angles, obtuse angles—angles as far as the eye can see:

Angles 1Angles 2Angles 3Angles 4Angles 5Photos taken on a Hidden Harbor Tour, September 2013.

A contribution to Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge, Angles.