An Exquisite Enlightenment-Era Book Catalogs 570 Types of Marble in Vivid Color
Six years after the release of a monumental compendium of Dutch birds, the publisher and naturalist Jan Christiaan Sepp (1739-1811) shifted his focus from avians to geology. In 1776, he issued Marmor Soorten, or The Book of Marble, a striking catalog of scientific illustrations and annotations featuring 570 types of the prized stone. This first tome was based on research published by the German engraver Adam Ludwig Wirsing and released in 11 volumes that presented the stunning, crystallized samples in exquisite hues, requiring 100 color plates to print.
A forthcoming release from Taschen reproduces Sepp’s monumental work in its entirety. Based on two first editions of Marmor Soorten held in collections at Dredsen’s State and University Library and the Getty Research Institute, the facsimile offers insight into the vast diversity of the material itself and the Enlightenment-era impulses to share knowledge and information with the public.
The Book of Marble will be available in the U.S. in May, and you can pre-order a copy from Taschen.
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An Astounding Composite of 90,000 Images Unveils the Sun’s Hidden Atmosphere
Astrophotographers Andrew McCarthy (previously) and Jason Guenzel recently teamed up to create a staggering look at the sun that showcases the textured, fiery details of its atmosphere. Comprised of approximately 90,000 individual images, “Fusion of Helios” showcases the usually invisible solar corona, the outermost layer that tends to be hidden by the sun’s powerful glare. “To get a scientifically plausible look at it, we used NASA’s SOHO data as a reference to geometrically transform Jason’s 2017 eclipse photo to match the features,” McCarthy shares. “The result is a blend of science and art, and my favorite piece of work I’ve been a part of.”
Jets of plasma known as spicules appear like wispy fibers cloaking the sun’s surface, while a tall column shoots from the upper right. This solar eruption, which McCarthy likens to a tornado, stretches the same height as 14 planet Earths as it rapidly swirls and sheds balls of plasma the size of the moon.
Check out a video of the twister-like phenomenon on Instagram, and find prints of “Fusion of Helios” in both McCarthy’s and Guenzel’s shops. (via Kottke)
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Design Photography Science
‘Open Circuits’ Slices Everyday Electronics to Reveal Their Surprisingly Stunning Insides
Whether the invisible circuitry that powers our phones or the bundled cables that transport sound and data, it’s easy to appreciate common technologies for their functional purposes and simplification of daily life. A recently released book from No Starch Press, though, treasures these components for the artistry of their engineering and highlights the intricacy and elegance inherent within each design.
Open Circuits: The Inner Beauty of Electronic Components features photographs of 130 technologies cross-cut or altered to reveal their otherwise hidden elements. Written by Windell Oskay and Eric Schlaepfer, the book features a vast array of objects like headphone jacks, HDMI cables, and even retro neon lamps as it offers nearly impossible glimpses for those of us interested in keeping our devices intact. Each page is both a dive into technological history and an ode to the evolution and aesthetics of electronics themselves.
Although Open Circuits is currently back-ordered on Bookshop, the publisher says that more copies should be available within the coming weeks. Until then, check out the book’s site and watch the making-of video below. (via Kottke)
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A Staggering 3.32 Billion Celestial Objects Dot an Enormous New Image of the Milky Way
A massive new composite released earlier this year reveals a confounding number of stars in the Milky Way. An international collaboration gathered from multiple telescopes at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, the stunning work captures a staggering 3.32 billion celestial objects across 130 degrees of the night sky—for context, the NSF’s NOIRLab team, which is responsible for the 21,400-image composite, shares that this stretch “equates to 13,000 times the angular area of the full moon.”
Requiring about 260 hours of observation, this new release follows data shared in 2017, although its breadth is far greater and allows for a complete 360-degree panoramic view. The full image shown below highlights the Milky Way’s vibrant band containing most of the stellar objects, while the detailed crop above captures an extraordinarily concentrated area. Researchers said about the density in a statement:
While this profusion of stars and dust makes for beautiful images, it also makes the galactic plane challenging to observe. The dark tendrils of dust seen threading through this image absorb starlight and blot out fainter stars entirely, and the light from diffuse nebulae interferes with any attempts to measure the brightness of individual objects. Another challenge arises from the sheer number of stars, which can overlap in the image and make it difficult to disentangle individual stars from their neighbors.
In addition to the standalone images, astronomers also released an interactive version for those interested in exploring specific locations and details within the celestial expanse. (via Kottke)
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Art History Illustration Science
Explore Hundreds of Exquisite Botanical Collages Created by an 18th-Century Septuagenarian Artist
At age 72, Mary Delany (1700-1788) devoted herself to her art practice, taking up a form of decoupage to create an exquisite collection of botanical collages from dyed and cut paper. She interpreted many of the delicate specimens she encountered in Buckinghamshire while staying with her friend, the Duchess of Portland, through layered pieces on black backdrops. From the wispy clover-like leaves of an oxalis plant to the wildly splayed petals of the daffodil, the realistic works are both stunning for their beauty and faithfulness to the original lifeforms.
Known for her scientific precision, Delany labeled each specimen with the plant’s taxonomic and common names, the date, location of creation, name of the donor, and a collection number, the latter of which was used to organize all 985 collages in her Flora Delanica series. Together, the works create a vast and diverse florilegium, or compilation of botanicals and writings in the tradition of commonplace books.
The British Museum houses most of Delany’s collages, which you can explore in an interactive archive that has information about the plants, artworks, and the option to zoom in on images of the pieces. You also might enjoy The Paper Garden, a book that delves into the artist’s work and what it means to foster a creative practice.
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The Astonishing Biodiversity of Fungi Blooms in Max Mudie’s Macro Photographs
“I’m not the first person to say it, and I’m not going to be the last, but when you find out how integral fungi are to our existence, it makes everything else feel insignificant,” says Max Mudie, whose foraging expeditions reveal the otherworldly elegance, diversity, and minutiae of the myriad denizens of the “wood wide web.” Documenting a range of fungi and slime molds living in the U.K., the Sussex-based photographer is fascinated by the sheer breadth of colors, sizes, and textures he encounters in both rural and urban spaces. “I like to try and find as many species as possible,” he tells Colossal. “The more obscure, the better.”
Mudie’s lifelong love for mushrooms blossomed when he moved back to a rural area around five years ago, and he couldn’t resist the opportunity to forage, document, and cultivate specimens. He regularly joins a local group of amateur mycologists on walks to find and identify different types, and a recent highlight included documenting a bioluminescent species. Even with more than 140,000 types of fungi on record around the world, new discoveries are made all the time. He loves the thrill of stumbling across species that are rare or aren’t listed in textbooks, which requires some sleuthing and team effort to identify. “I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of such a vast subject,” he says. “Many species out there are yet to be described, meaning there’s lots of work to be done—making this, for me, one of the most exciting subjects to focus on.”
In many cases, the specimens Mudie encounters are so tiny that powerful macro lenses are required to capture their intricate details. He often shares behind-the-scenes footage of his finds on Instagram, where you can also follow updates about upcoming print releases and events.
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