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A "Mangrove Forest" of Magnetism May Help Heat the Sun's Corona

Smithsonian Magazine

If you cook on a gas stove, the food heats faster when it's closer to the flame. But in seeming defiance of thermodynamics, that doesn't work when you're talking about the sun. While the solar surface is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the atmosphere can hit a whopping 9 million degrees in its outer reaches, called the corona, and scientists have been asking, "What's up with that?" for decades.

Now a team at the École Polytechnique in France thinks they have at least part of the answer. Using new computer models, they posit that the ultimate source of the corona's searing heat is a "mangrove forest" of magnetism that lies just underneath the surface we see, called the photosphere.

"Everyone knows that the energy is coming from below, and we know it's a lot of energy," says study leader Tahar Amari. The question has been what creates that energy and how it travels from the surface to the corona. That's where the new model, described this week in Nature, steps in.

The sun is made mostly of plasma, hot gas made of atoms that have had their electrons stripped away, creating a charge. When that kind of gas is rotating, it acts like an electrical generator, or a dynamo. In the new model, the sun's plasma creates these dynamos as it roils and churns. The dynamos in turn generate magnetic fields, which can store energy. All this occurs in the upper 900 miles of the sun—a small fraction of its 432,000-mile radius. The dynamos don't last long, about eight minutes on average, but it's enough that they can sometimes feed larger structures.

When the resulting magnetic fields twist, turn and cross each other, they can release their energy in a phenomenon called reconnection. Put two or more fields near each other, and the poles of those fields try to create new magnetic field lines with their nearest neighbors, rearranging the shapes of the fields in the process. Excess energy then gets expelled as heat, electromagnetic waves or kinetic energy, and that in turn gets pumped into the chromosphere, the layer extending about 1,200 miles from the photosphere to a region that transitions into the corona.

According to the model, the energy dump fuels eruptions of plasma into the chromosphere, which make waves akin to sound waves moving through the air. These are called Alfvén waves, after physicist Hannes Alfvén, who first proposed their existence in the 1940s. The Alfvén waves' energy gets dissipated in the corona, which then gets hot enough to reach the millions of degrees we observe. 

A model of the complex magnetic field sprouting from the sun’s surface highlights the resemblance to the roots and branches of mangrove trees. (Tahar Amari /Centre de physique théorique.CNRS-Ecole Polytechnique.FRANCE)

Amari likens the whole system to a mangrove forest. At the bottom are the roots, which come together to form the trunks of the trees. The top of the trees is where the energy gets deposited. He noted that to get the kind of coronal heating we see, you need about 4,500 Watts per square meter from the surface, and that's what his model produces.

For now, the work is only a computer simulation, and there isn't yet a direct way to observe what's happening, Amari says. However, existing indirect observations of the sun make his model plausible. For instance, the coronal temperature doesn't seem to vary much with the 11-year sunspot cycle. "Sunspots are sensitive to the cycle—this magnetic field is not," Amari says. Sunspots are magnetic disturbances rooted deeper in the sun, so if the two phenomena are not linked, that would support Amari's model of a relatively shallow driver for coronal heating.

Another factor is the discovery of solar tornadoes, which show that some phenomena can transport energy from the surface to the chromosphere and corona, bolstering the model. In addition, observations of the solar surface show that the spectral lines of some elements are split into two or more components, which happens if there's a strong local magnetic field like the one the model describes.

Last year Jeff Brosius, a solar physicist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, proposed that tiny flares called nanoflares were responsible for coronal heating. Nanoflares are caused by huge magnetic fields that loop through the corona. The magnetic field lines sometimes cross, creating current sheets that release energy as heat.

While the two versions differ in their specifics, they aren't necessarily contradictory. "The mechanism of the nanoflares is an open question," says Jim Klimchuk, a research astrophysicist at Goddard who wasn't involved in either study. "It could involve the reconnection of magnetic fields in the corona (the same process that creates Amari's mini eruptions below the solar surface and that causes them to deposit most of their energy in the chromosphere), or it could involve the dissipation of waves that are launched into the corona from below. I'm sure both things are happening. It's just a question of proportion."

According to Klimchuk, the new model is an important step in understanding this vexing solar mystery. "To my knowledge, [the dynamos producing eruptions in the chromosphere] have not been seen in other simulations, so it will be important to work out the details of this behavior and verify that it is correct," he says. "The chromospheric and coronal heating problem is not solved, but these results may provide important clues as to the path forward."

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been updated to clarify that dynamos have been seen before in solar models.

Sex and the City Computer

National Museum of American History
Manhattan newspaper columnist Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker used this laptop to record her observations on modern relationships in the risqué comedy series Sex and the City (HBO, 1998-2004). Frank, witty, and often outrageous, the Emmy Award-winning cable show won millions of loyal fans with its depiction of four women friends and their romantic urban escapades. It also established cable TV as a competitive producer of original programming. Sex and the City set fashion trends, from Manolo Blahnik shoes to cosmopolitan cocktails, and provoked cultural debates about sex, relationships, and gender roles.

QUADRANS MAGNUS CHALIBEUS

National Museum of American History
Tycho Brahe, the preeminent astronomical observer of the 16th century, established an observatory on the Danish island of Hven in the 1570s. There he built an impressive assortment of astronomical instruments. Among these was a large steel quadrant on an azimuthal base. This engraving represents that instrument. It was published in Joan Blaeu, Atlas Maior, vol. 1, book 2 (Amsterdam, 1662). It is derived from an engraving that first appeared in Tycho Brahe, Astronomiae Instauratae Mechanica (Wandesburg, 1598).

Lord Rosse directing the conveyance of the Great Speculum to its position at the Base of the Tube, North Side

National Museum of American History
William Parson was an Anglo-Irishman whose fascination for astronomy and large structures led him to build a reflecting telescope of 72-inches aperture. Its site was Birr Castle, the family home near the village of Parsonstown in the center of Ireland. Observations with the telescope, dubbed the Leviathan of Parsonstown, began in February 1845. An early discovery was the spiral structure of the M51, a celestial object then considered a nebula but now known to be a galaxy. Rosse’s telescope remained the world’s largest until 1917 when the 100-inch reflector was established on Mount Wilson. This lithograph shows Parson's telescope. The text at the bottom reads: “THE GREAT TELESCOPE / (of 52 feet focus, 6 feet clear opening of speculum) / ERECTED AT BIRR CASTLE IN IRELAND, BY THE EARL OF ROSSE, PRESIDENT OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY” and “On Stone by W. Bevan, from a drawing by Miss Henrietta M. Crompton” and “Printed by W. Monkhouse, York.” The image was probably made during the period 1849-1854 when William Parsons, the Third Earl of Rosse, served as president of the Royal Society of London. Henrietta Matilda Crompton (1793-1881) was a wealthy and well-educated Englishwoman who is remembered largely for the sketches she made on tours around the British Isles. William Bevan (fl. 1842-1855) transferred Crompton’s sketch onto a lithographic stone. William Monkhouse was a printer in York who apparently specialized in scientific subjects. Ref: Patrick Moore, The Astronomy of Birr Castle (London, 1971). John Moore, “The Leviathan of Parsonstown,” History Ireland 9 (2001): 18-22. Stephen Allen Letters and Papers of Henrietta Matilda Crompton and her Family: a List with Extracts; & The Art of Henrietta Matilda Crompton (North Yorkshire, 1994).

ARMILLÆ ÆQUATORIÆ

National Museum of American History
Tycho Brahe, the preeminent astronomical observer of the 16th century, established an observatory on the Danish island of Hven in the 1570s and built an impressive assortment of astronomical instruments. Among these were several large armillary spheres designed for observational rather than pedagogical purposes. This hand-colored engraving represents one of those instruments. It was published in Joan Blaeu, Atlas Maior, vol. 1, book 2 (Amsterdam, 1662). It is derived from an engraving that first appeared in Tycho Brahe, Astronomiae Instauratae Mechanica (Wandesburg, 1598).

Hopa! Rituals and Symbols of an Armenian Wedding

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Imagine you just got married, and a few months later you had the opportunity to relive your celebration three more times with a different crowd of guests. One real wedding followed by three recreations.

This was the case for newlyweds Mariam Hovhannisyan and Stepan Toroyan, who were married in Armenia a year before flying out to Washington, D.C., to participate in the 2018 Folklife Festival. Both members of Yerevan-based dance troupe Menq, they played the role of bride and groom in this festive recreation of a traditional Armenian wedding, known as a harsanig. The hour-long celebration combined a mélange of rituals accompanied by music, dance, and a narration that revealed a world of symbolism.

The piercing sounds of the zurna (woodwind instrument) and kopal (large, double-headed drum) provided an insistent invitation for Folklife Festival community to come together and celebrate. Accompanied by these euphoric tunes, participants performed several folk dances with choreographic variations as they wove in and out of crowds, at times encircling the bride and groom.

A couple of dance highlights included the shabash and yarkhushta. During shabash, guests typically throw money to the bride and groom, wishing them wealth and prosperity. They don’t get to keep the money, though—it is swept up later and given to the musicians. The yarkhushta, the masculine militant “clap dance,” also drew a lot of attention. Men face each other in pairs and rapidly approach one another resembling leaping goats. This produced an irresistible adrenaline rush, for both dancers and spectators.

Camera: Hannah Luc, Anne Saul, Kevin Patrick, Jacob Weber, Albouri Ndiaye, Jackson Harvey
Editing: Jacob Weber

As the public observed these dances and other rituals, program curator Levon Abrahamian reminded them that each region in Armenia has its own wedding ceremony style. Despite the slight variations, much of the symbolism remains the same. Here are a few other rituals and symbols that were part of the recreated ceremony:

Lavash flatbread: The mother-in-law places lavash on the shoulders of the bride and groom as a sign of prosperity and abundance.

Breaking plates: The bride and groom break plates before entering their new home as a way to cast off any evil. According to tradition, whoever breaks the plate first assumes authority in the house!

Honey and walnuts: As they enter the groom’s house, the mother-in-law gives the bride and groom a spoonful of honey and walnuts, wishing them a sweet life.

Flourished apple: Known in Armenian as tzaghkatz khndzor, the groomsman holds a knife with an apple at the top (seen in video) filled with dimes and quarters, which were traditionally real gold and silver coins. The rest of the sword is draped with red and green ribbon (red for the bride, and green for the groom) as well as other candies, signifying the start of a sweet life for the new couple.

Wedding gata: This sweet Armenian pastry is given to young, unmarried girls as a symbol of prosperity and blessing.

Khorovatz: Participants sway khorovatz, or grilled meat on a stick, in the air as they dance their way through the crowds.

Toastmaster: An Armenian wedding is not complete without the toastmaster tradition. Both the godfather and mother-in-law express beautiful words of appreciation for the bride and groom, followed by poetry and song (in the video, notice the red and green ribbon on the toasting glasses).

Bride’s dowry: The bride’s family presents various items to the groom’s family, including a cover for the bed, a tablecloth, a blanket for the baby, and a silk rug (considered the dowry’s masterpiece!). All these pieces, handmade by the bride (or in our case, by other Festival participants), are symbols of her patience and reveal the strength of her eyesight, because it takes a lot of effort and hard work to create these works of art.

Gallery

Click on the photo above to view full slideshow

The real beauty of this harsanig ceremony on the National Mall was how the community of Armenian compatriots came together in a collective spirit to share this tradition with visitors, inspiring intercultural dialogue and curiosity among spectators. The stone carvers, carpet weavers, needle workers, and lavash bakers, among others, expressed such joy and enthusiasm as they immersed themselves in their roles during the ceremony. As a spectator, you would have thought they were two real families celebrating a real wedding.

In reality, however, most of the wedding festivity roles were spontaneous and improvised. The only information they received in advance was that a session on traditional Armenian weddings would take place. The rest was left to their own memory and traditional knowledge.

Micaela A. Nerguizian is a production consultant in the performing arts and intern at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. She is completing her graduate degree at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, with a focus on cultural diplomacy and international education. As an Argentine of Armenian descent who has attended several Armenian weddings, she has never experienced a ceremony quite like this one.

Capoeira: From Occult Martial Art to International Dance

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Two young men dressed in white kneel on the ground, ready to begin their duel. Eyes lock onto those of his opponent. Hearts beat faster. Ancestral sounds echo forth from the berimbau, a single-stringed bow-shaped instrument. Only then do the two shake hands, and the match may commence. With a dynamic, animal-like force, the two exchange movements of attack and defense in a constant flow of exploring and exploiting each other’s strengths and weaknesses, fears and fatigues. They wait and watch patiently for that careless moment in which to drive home a decisive blow.

Capoeira developed in Brazil, derived from traditions brought across the Atlantic Ocean by enslaved Africans and fueled by the burning desire for freedom. It soon became widely practiced on the plantations as a means of breaking the bonds of slavery, both physically and mentally. During this time, the art was considered a social infirmity and officially prohibited by the Brazilian Penal Code. The identification of “the outlaw” with capoeira was so widespread that the word became a synonym for “bum,” “bandit,” and “thief.” However, that did not stop the capoeiristas from practicing. They moved to marginal places and camouflaged the martial art as a form of dance.  

Today, we find people all over the world practicing capoeira, not only in parks and studios but also universities and professional institutions. It took a central role at this year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival, where the On the Move program explored the journeys people take to and within the United States and the cultures, stories, and experiences they carry with them. Capoeira is a result of the phenomenon of people migrating to new lands. As Mestre Jelon Vieira explained during the Festival, “Capoeira was conceived in Africa and born in Brazil.”

Capoeira game or war dance
Capoeira game or war dance.
Lithography by Johann M Rugendas, 1835

The Tradition: Resistance and Resilience

Between 1500 and 1815, Brazil was a colony of the Portuguese Crown—an empire sustained by slave labor. The business of capturing and selling humans brought enormous wealth to the Portuguese Crown, but it brought huge numbers of enslaved Africans to the New World. Hundreds of people were packed into overcrowd, infected holds of slave ships in order to maximize profit. As a result of the perilous and unhealthy conditions during the three-month journey, more than half of the enslaved lost their lives, their limp bodies tossed overboard.

Upon arrival, they were sold at the Sunday market and sent to work in the hot, humid, and harsh conditions of the plantations, where many would be worked to death. The high mortality rates among the enslaved populations in Brazil, along with an increased demand for Brazilian raw materials like sugar, gold, and diamonds, spurred the importation of growing numbers of Africans. An estimated four million enslaved people were shipped to Brazil until the mid-nineteenth century.

The enslaved resisted in various forms: armed revolt, poisoning their owners, abortion, and escape. The vastness of the Brazilian inlands made it possible for individuals on the run to hide. Some escaped and formed clandestine communities in the backlands of the rainforest, independent villages known as quilombos. Here, the Africans and their descendants developed an autonomous socio-cultural system in which they could sustain various expressions of African culture. Historians surmise that capoeira emerged from these communities as a means for defense under the oppressive Portuguese regime. 

By the mid-1800s, the towns and cities of Brazil experienced an unprecedented urbanization. Cities grew in population but lacked adequate economic planning and infrastructure, resulting in a growing population of vagrants. The Paraguayan War between 1864 and 1870 brought a flood of veterans and refugees from destroyed quilombos into the cities. These people were attracted to capoeira not only for its sport and play but also for its powerful means of attack and defense for their survival.

Capoeira became a widespread practice at the beginning of the twentieth century—outlaws, bodyguards, and mercenaries used it. Even some politicians practiced as a way to sway constituents. In this time, strong social pressure throughout the country slowly transformed capoeira into a less aggressive weekend pastime. Eventually capoeiristas were meeting in front of bars, playing an apparently inoffensive kind of dance accompanied by berimbaus.

Ruth Landes capoeira field work
Ruth Landes captured photos of a capoeira gathering in Bahia, Brazil, during a field research trip between 1938 and 1939. 
Photo by Ruth Landes, courtesy of National Anthropological Archives

The oppression of capoeira diminished significantly during the 1930s. During this time, a particular mestre—or master—had been working toward restoring the dignity and historical perspective of the capoeira of his time. Mestre Bimba was born in 1899 in Bahia, in northwestern Brazil. In 1932 he became the first master to open a formal capoeira school called Luta Regional. By 1937, the school received official recognition by the government. The course of capoeira had changed.

Mestre Bimba established a disciplined method of teaching and legitimized capoeira as a form of self-defense and athletics. He developed a style called capoeira regional, which emphasized the technicality of movements and a dance-like nature. When he was summoned by the government to perform in front of distinguished guests, Mestre Bimba became the first to publicly present capoeira as an official cultural practice.

Capoeira on the Move

Mestre Bimba’s success sparked the growth of new schools in Bahia. As capoeira received more and more public affirmation, the younger mestres found better environments for new expression. Many of them left Bahia to teach in places like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, taking the opportunity to develop their own styles. Contemporary capoeira was distinguished by its emphasis on cleanliness and articulation, a paramount fighting technique but also an innovative, spectacular visual show.

The 1960s marked a major turning point for the tradition. In 1964, Mestre Acordeon created the Grupo Folclórico da Bahia to share capoeira in a more organized and formal way. He and his group toured the country, reached into local schools, and won recognition in international competitions. Soon after, he founded the World Capoeira Association with the goals of promoting exchange through workshops, educational trips, and publications, and codifying a body of rules for the understanding and respect for the history, rituals, traditions, and philosophy.

Capoeira mestres
On the road to the Worldwide Festival of Black Arts in Dakar, Senegal, 1966. L–R: Mestre Camafeu de Oxossi, Mestre Gato Preto, Mestre Roberto Satanas, Mestre João Grande, Mestre Gildo Alifnete, and Mestre Pastinha.
Photo courtesy of velhosmestres.com

In 1972, the Brazilian government recognized capoeira as on official sport. The regulations laid down rules, definitions, bylaws, a code of ethics, recognized movements, and a graded classification chart for students. It also established rhythms for the music and guidelines for the role of the berimbaus during competition.

This institutionalization and systemization of capoeira did not sit well with many mestres. They were opposed to such formalizing efforts, which they saw as an attempt to remove the art from its more organic, grassroots environment. Despite their opposition, capoeira was already engaged in a tremendous process of adapting to a changing society.

Capoeira was growing, spreading to different parts of Brazil and soon around the world. It took root in the United States in the mid-1970s when Mestre Jelon Vieira and Mestre João Grande introduced their art to new audiences. Since then, these two influential masters have dedicated their lives to growing a community of capoeiristas.

Mestre Jelon Vieira was born in 1953 in Bahia, Brazil. He moved to New York City in 1975 and planted the first seeds of capoeira in the United States. Aside from touring the country, the Caribbean, and Europe with his company, DanceBrazil, Vieira has been teaching in under-resourced communities and at institutions of higher learning such as Columbia University, Yale, Harvard, and New York University. He is sure to immerse his students not only in the techniques of capoeira but also in the philosophy. Many people suggest that Mestre Jelon may be responsible for the incorporation of capoeira movements into modern-day breakdancing.

Encouraged by Mestre Jelon, Mestre João Grande, also from Bahia, founded his own academy in New York City in 1990, where he has trained thousands of students in the tradition of capoeiraAngola. Both men have been recognized for their mastery and commitment to passing on their traditions of capoeira with the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, our nation’s highest honor in folk and traditional arts.  

Mestre João Grande
Mestre João Grande waits for the roda group competition to begin inside the Arts and Industries Building at the 2017 Folklife Festival.
Photo by Daniel Martinez, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives

Mestre Jelon and Mestre João Grande were featured in the Folklife Festival, where they discussed and demonstrated their art for visitors on the National Mall. They brought students in their academies from around the United States to Washington, D.C., and led interactive lessons with the public. The Festival provided a platform to share the voices and experiences of an ancient and unique tradition of Afro-Brazilian descendants. In a discussion session, Mestre João Grande explained his inspiration and how he first learned capoeira.

“I looked everywhere to learn capoeira,” he said. “When I couldn’t find capoeira, I started to observe nature—how the animals survive, how they fly, how they hunt, how the animals behave, how the fish swim, how they fight in the water, how the birds fly and never touch each other, how the wind hits the trees, how the trees move then become still again, how the snake moves on the ground, how the dogs play with humans and each other, how the hurricane turns.

“That is what inspired me—nature. Capoeira is nature.”

Juan Goncalves-Borrega is a curatorial intern at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage working with the 2017 On the Move program. He is pursuing a bachelor of arts in history and a bachelor of science in anthropology at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Washday

National Museum of African American History and Culture
An oil painting depicting a washday scene in rural Louisiana. At the top of the painting, swaths of blue, white, grey and pink depict a partially cloudy sky. At upper-center right is a green house with a red door, red-trimmed windows, a red central chimney, and a smaller black angled chimney at the right of the roof from which smoke emerges. There are three descending diagonal lines of images across the left of the painting. The top diagonal is a line of three green-topped trees. A man sits leaning against the trunk of the central tree, holding a red object to his mouth. The next diagonal is a washerwoman, wearing a red dress and white apron, hanging sheets and clothes on a green clothesline. To the right of the clothesline, at the center of the painting, a woman wearing a blue dress and white apron sits in a red chair, seeming to observe this scene. She is holding what appears to be a baby or small child, dressed in yellow. The next diagonal is another, smaller clothesline on which a pair of red socks and other blue and yellow items are hung. Across the bottom edge of the painting, almost horizontal, is a row of figures. At left is a man wearing a red hat, scarf, green shirt and black trousers wheeling a red wheelbarrow that contains a yellow sack. Next is a woman wearing a green hat, blue dress and apron, washing clothes. Next is a woman wearing a white hat, yellow dress and apron, heading towards a short path that leads to a large black cauldon. Last is a green tree, on the other side of which is a woman wearing a blue hat, green dress and white apron, washing clothes. The painting is signed and titled "CH" at lower right.

Untitled

National Museum of African Art
Delicate work of ink on paper of a banana plant surviving a torrential downpour, embellished with finely sketched scientific notations on the arc of a swaying frond or the remnants of broken leaf. Signed with an inscription to Constance Stuart Larrabee, "in memory of a wonderful few days and your photographs."

The Case of Dred Scott in the United States Supreme Court

National Museum of African American History and Culture
A first edition, octavo volume of The Case of Dred Scott in the United States Supreme Court with sewn self-wrappers. The title and publishing information are printed in black ink, centered on the front wrap against a plain background: [The Case / OF / DRED SCOTT / IN THE / UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT. / THE FULL DECISION OF / CHIEF JUSTICE TANEY / AND / JUSTICE CURTIS / AND ABSTRACTS OF THE / OPINIONS OF THE OTHER JUDGES; / WITH ANALYSIS OF THE POINTS RULED, AND SOME / CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS. / NEW YORK / GREELEY & McELRATH, TRIBUNE BUILDINGS / 1857. / Price, 25 Cents; $1 for Five Copies; $2 per Dozen; $15 per Hundred.] There are 104 pages. The text concludes with the sections [RESOLUTIONS] and [AN ACT TO SECURE THE FREEDOM OF ALL PERSONS WITHIN THIS STATE.] on the back. The volume is inscribed to the New York State congressman Robert J. Hale at the top center of the front wrap: [Robt. Hale from R. W. Livingston, July / 57].

Paysage de mer

National Museum of African Art
Cotton thread and dyed barkcloth strips, some dyed with cola and with indigo.

No. 44, Weighing Cotton

National Museum of African American History and Culture
An albumen print on cabinet card depicting a group of men and women weighing cotton. The photograph shows a tall bearded man wearing a straw hat, light colored shirt, and dark pants weighing a large basket of cotton. The scale is a T-shaped wooden stand with a weighted bag on one end of the top pole and the cotton basket attached to the other. A group of nine (9) observers sit on baskets of cotton to the right. Each is wearing a hat. A short man stands next to an open shed on the left. In the background is a small wooden building, trees, and a field. The photograph is faded with a yellowish tint and mounted on a piece of board with rounded corners that is green on the front and gray on the back. A small hole is located at the top center of the backing board. The back is printed with text identifying the series and photographer.

Milking Time

National Museum of African American History and Culture
An oil painting depicting two people milking a cow. The cow is grey and is depicted in profile, but has turned her head to face the viewer. A younger man wearing a black cap, blue shirt and black trousers is sitting on a stool in front of the cow, facing to the left, milking the cow into a brown bucket. At his left, on the other side of the cow's udder, an older man stands facing to the right. He has a black hat, white beard, blue shirt and black trousers, and his arms are raised. A low, gated fence surrounds the men and the cow, and there are four trees outside the fenced area. A brown dog stands on the other side of the fence, on the left side of the canvas, its head lifted to observe the milking and its tail perked. In the foreground are expanses of dirt and grass, depicted through bands of brown and green paint in broad, predominantly horizontal brushstrokes. The painting is signed "CH" in ink at lower center. There are traces of ink below the paint in the areas of the fence and gate.

Journal of Proceedings of the Thirty-Eighth Session of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church

National Museum of African American History and Culture
Booklet of "Journal Proceedings of the Thirty-Eighth Session" from the A.M.E. Zion Church. The tan front cover has a double black border around the black printed text. The lower half of the front cover reads [Held in / Blackwell Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church / Chicago, Illinois / June 29-July 4, 1948 / Bishop John W. Martin, A.M., D.D., L.L.D., / Presiding / Rev. W. T. Beck / Pastor]. The book has a price of twenty-five (25) cents. The journal includes conference rolls, proceeding summaries, and observations and recommendations. The back cover is blank.

James Van Der Zee photographs Eubie Blake

National Museum of African American History and Culture
This gelatin silver print depicts a crowded room of bystanders, lined along the left and right sides of the frame, observing and capturing the process of the centrally placed photographer, James Van Der Zee, as he photographs Eubie Blake. The central point of focus in the image is Eubie Blake who remains seated in the glow of deliberately placed studio lighting fixtures in front of a backdrop used to create the illusion of an elaborate interior room. Van Der Zee sits on a stool in the foreground of the image, mostly in silhouette, with his PL arm reaching to adjust the standing camera just left of the center of the image. A woman stands behind Van Der Zee's camera to assist his process and is slightly out of focus.

Coretta Scott King observes the program from her seat with actor Harry Belafonte and members of her family

National Museum of African American History and Culture
This black and white photograph shows the King family seated inside Ebenezer Baptist Church for Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday commemoration in 1969. The King family is seated in the center of the photograph. Harry Belafonte is seated to the proper left of Coretta Scott King and there are two unidentified woman to the proper left of Belafonte. On the other side of Coretta Scott King, Alberta and Martin Luther King Sr. are seated before the end of the row. There is a row of press seated in front of the family as well as standing in the aisle behind them. Other attendees are behind the press and the family. The back of the photograph has a manufacturer's mark.

Checkers players

National Museum of African American History and Culture
A black and white photograph of a large group of men observing two separate games of checkers. The two checker tables, seated competitors, and bystanders are positioned on the sidewalk outside the store front of Babe's Place in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The man standing fifth from the left wearing the V-neck sweater is identified as "Checkers" Brown. Other men in the photograph include: Albert Valentine, John Gray, Clarence Walker, Ray Harris, Joe Mitchell, R. L. Lipscomb, Richard Reed, West Wall, Theodore "Ted" Campbell, Claud Foster, Clifford L. Brown Jr. In the bottom right corner of the print, below the image, is a handwritten notation in black ink which reads [118].

Beau Rivage

National Museum of African Art
Cotton thread and dyed barkcloth strips, some dyed with cola and with indigo.

All at Sea / Pullman Porters a Darky Sketch: Two Dark Knights

National Museum of African American History and Culture
An Edison Diamond Disc phonograph record. The disc is comprised of two songs with one on each side of disc. One side has a white circular paper label with black text that reads: [ALL AT SEA / A Darky Sketch / TWO DARK KNIGHTS]. There is also a piece of paper taped with black tape with the handwritten notation: "Black". The other side of the disc has the same white circular label but has a drawing of Thomas Edison visible and black text that reads: [PULLMAN PORTERS / A Darky Sketch / TWO DARK KNIGHTS]. There is a single piece of black tape on the label on this side as well.

Consists of: Edison Diamond Disc.

2011.81.2: Edison diamond disc.

Side 1: This is a recording of a vaudville comedy sketch of a conversation on a train between two African American porters. It is likely a blackface performance. One is confronting the other after finding him in the observation car not working. They begin comically discussing the various passengers they're serving. The humor of the sketch plays on one of the porter's laziness and igorance.

Side 2: This is a recording of a vaudville comedy sketch of two African American men in a rowboat. It is likely a blackface performance. The two men have been rowing for many hours, but appear to be going in circles. The humor of the sketch plays on one of the men's ignorance and confusion with language.

92 Percent of Possible Earth Twins Have Yet to Be Born

Smithsonian Magazine

13.8 billion years ago, in a cacophonous event, our universe was born. 

Yet new planets are still condensing from swirling clouds of hydrogen and helium and filling the sparking horizons. With increasingly bigger, and better telescopes, astronomers have even identified a handful of planets that could be ripe for potential life. But according a recent study, 92 percent of possible Earth twins have yet to be born, reports Sid Perkins for Science

This surprising statement comes from two researchers based at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, Peter Behroozi and Molly S. Peeples. To guess the universe's planetary potential​, the duo developed a model that uses known information about the ethos—like how planets form, the age of observed galaxies, and estimates for the amount of matter in the universe. 

The result? The universe has potential to form more than ten times the number of planets than exist today, according to their study recently published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

"Our main motivation was understanding the Earth's place in the context of the rest of the universe," Behroozi says in a press release. Earth is a fairly young planet in astronomical time, but on a larger scale, this research suggests that it will eventually be the older sibling of the universe. 

Since the beginning of our universe, the rate of planet formation has slowed overtime. But there’s still plenty of material for the birth of many more planets and stars. According to the model, the last star in the universe shouldn’t burn out until 100 trillion years in the future, writes Pete Spotts for The Christian Science Monitor

As those many, many millennia churn on, chances become increasingly better that life will arise somewhere other than Earth (if it hasn’t already).

The universe is already full of wondrous planets—waterworlds, diamond planets and molten infernos. But these discoveries are only a small fraction of what is out there, an an even smaller one of what is yet to come.

90th Anniversary of the Scopes Trial

Smithsonian Institution Archives

In 1925, 24-year-old high school teacher John Thomas Scopes was tried in Dayton, Tennessee, for teaching about evolution, in violation of a newly enacted state law.

During the first week of June 1925, 29-year-old Watson Davis, managing editor of Science Service, a Washington, D.C.-based science news organization, traveled to Dayton to meet Scopes. The journalist then returned the following month to report on the trial, which began on July 10.

On Monday, July 20, 1925, 19-year-old William Silverman, who had just graduated from high school in nearby Chattanooga, went to Dayton with one of his science teachers to observe the proceedings. Fortunately, like Davis, Silverman took along his camera.

This special slide show, weaving together the photographs of Davis and Silverman, is presented by the Smithsonian Institution Archives to mark the 90th anniversary of the Scopes Trial and to honor the work of two photographers who preserved these fascinating glimpses of people, places, and events.

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Tennessee v. John T. Scopes Trial: John Thomas Scopes, June 1925.


In May 1925, 24-year-old John Thomas Scopes was accused of teaching about evolution, in violation of a newly enacted state law. Science Service journalist Watson Davis traveled to Dayton, Tennessee, in June 1925 to meet the teacher. Photograph by Watson Davis, June 1925. Science Service Records, Smithsonian Institution Archives, image no. SIA2008-1121.


Tennessee v. John T. Scopes Trial: Rhea County High School, Dayton, Tennessee, 1925.


Rhea County High School, where John Thomas Scopes taught physics and served as the football and basketball coach. Photograph by Watson Davis, June 1925. Science Service Records, Smithsonian Institution Archives, image no. SIA2008-1123.


Tennessee v. John T. Scopes Trial: Cumberland Coal and Iron Company buildings, Dayton, Tennessee, 1925.


Part of the dormant facility of the Cumberland Coal and Iron Company, Dayton, Tennessee. The company’s multiple bankruptcies had weakened the local economy. Photograph by Watson Davis, June 1925. Science Service Records, Smithsonian Institution Archives, image no. SIA2008-1140.


Tennessee v. John T. Scopes Trial: Main Street, Dayton, Tennessee, 1925.


Main Street in downtown Dayton, Tennessee. Photograph by Watson Davis, June 1925. Science Service Records, Smithsonian Institution Archives, image no. SIA2008-1105.


Tennessee v. John T. Scopes Trial: Main Street, Dayton, Tennessee 1925.


Downtown Dayton, Tennessee. Visible at right is F.E. Robinson’s drugstore, the place where Dayton’s business leaders hatched the plot to hold a trial in order to bring tourists and good publicity to the town. Photograph by Watson Davis, June 1925. Science Service Records, Smithsonian Institution Archives, image no. SIA2008-1103.


Three men standing in front of Robinson’s Drugstore, Dayton, Tennessee, July 1925.


F.E. (Frank Earle) Robinson (at right) owned the drugstore where local business leaders persuaded schoolteacher John Thomas Scopes to consent to be charged with violating state law by teaching about evolution. The sign on the tabletop reads: “AT THIS TABLE THE SCOPES EVOLUTION CASE WAS STARTED MAY 5, 1925.” In the days preceding and during the trial, Robinson, Scopes, and others frequently posed for photographs around the table. The two men at left are possibly Dayton attorneys Ben G. McKenzie and Herbert E. Hicks, who were part of the prosecution team. Photograph by William Silverman, July 20, 1925. Accession 10-042: William Silverman Photographs, 1925, Smithsonian Institution Archives, image no. 2009-21072.


Tennessee v. John T. Scopes Trial: Rhea County (Tennessee) Courthouse, 1925


Rhea County Courthouse, Dayton, Tennessee, where the trial of John Thomas Scopes was held between July 10 and July 21, 1925. Photograph by Watson Davis, June 1925. Science Service Records, Smithsonian Institution Archives, image no. SIA2008-1126.


Clarence S. Darrow (center) standing near Rhea County Courthouse with unidentified man (left) and Gordon McKenzie (right), Dayton, Tennessee, probably July 20, 1925.


Defense attorney Clarence Seward Darrow (center) confers with an unidentified man (at left) and with local attorney Gordon McKenzie (at right). The Rhea County Courthouse is visible in the background. On Friday, July 17, 1925, Judge John T. Raulston threatened to cite Darrow for contempt. In this photograph, taken on Monday, July 20, 1925, Darrow is holding a Chattanooga, Tennessee, newspaper describing the earlier confrontation, and he is probably about to enter the courthouse, where he would apologize before proceeding with the defense of John Thomas Scopes. Photograph by William Silverman, July 20, 1925. Accession 10-042: William Silverman Photographs, 1925, Smithsonian Institution Archives, image no. 2009-21078.


William Jennings Bryan in the courtroom at the Scopes trial, Dayton, Tennessee, July 1925.


Political and religious leader William Jennings Bryan (the balding man visible standing at center of group in back) participated enthusiastically in prosecuting John Thomas Scopes for teaching evolution. The heat during the trial had become so oppressive in the courtroom that Bryan and many of the participants removed their coats. Judge John T. Raulston had allowed press photographers (see the camera at left) to set up their equipment inside the courtroom. Photograph by William Silverman, July 20, 1925. Accession 10-042: William Silverman Photographs, 1925, Smithsonian Institution Archives, image no. 2009-21073.


Tennessee v. John T. Scopes Trial: The seven scientists asked to testify for the defense standing in front of the Defense Mansion, July 1925.


These seven scientists volunteered to travel to Dayton, Tennessee, to testify at the trial of John Thomas Scopes. They posed in front of “Defense Mansion,” a Victorian house where defense team and witnesses stayed during the trial. Back row, left to right: Horatio Hackett Newman, Maynard Mayo Metcalf, Fay-Cooper Cole, Jacob Goodale Lipman; Front row, left to right: Winterton Conway Curtis, Wilbur A. Nelson, William Marion Goldsmith. Photograph by Watson Davis, July 1925. Science Service Records, Smithsonian Institution Archives, image no. SIA2008-1146.


Arthur Garfield Hays reading the scientists’ testimony into the record, Scopes trial, Dayton, Tennessee, July 20, 1925.


On the afternoon of July 20, 1925, Judge John T. Raulston declared that court would adjourn to where the temperature might be cooler and the spectators accommodated more safely. When proceedings resumed on a platform next to the courthouse, defense attorney Arthur Garfield Hays (standing on the platform in a white shirt) continued reading the defense experts’ sworn affidavits into the record. Visible on the courthouse wall is one of many “Read Your Bible” signs hung in Dayton throughout the trial. Attorney Dudley Field Malone can be seen sitting just behind Hays. Photograph by William Silverman, July 20, 1925. Accession 10-042: William Silverman Photographs, 1925, Smithsonian Institution Archives, image no. 2009-21079.


Clarence S. Darrow interrogating William Jennings Bryan, Scopes trial, Dayton, Tennessee, July 20, 1925.


When Arthur Garfield Hays finished reading the scientists’ statements, attorney Clarence Seward Darrow asked that the “Read Your Bible” sign be removed. Hays then called William Jennings Bryan to the stand and Darrow (standing on the platform in the white shirt) began one of the most famous examinations in American jurisprudence. The defense team sits directly behind Darrow. Visible, from left, are: Dudley Field Malone, his arm on railing; Hays; and Scopes’s Tennessee attorney John R. Neal. Photograph by William Silverman, July 20, 1925. Accession 10-042: William Silverman Photographs, 1925, Smithsonian Institution Archives, image no. 2009-21077.


Tennessee v. John T. Scopes Trial: Outdoor proceedings on July 20, 1925, showing William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Seward Darrow.


Science Service journalist Watson Davis observed the July 20, 1925, court session from behind the defense team and from a perspective opposite that of William Silverman. Note the same straw hat on a pole visible in the Silverman photographs and the court reporters seated at a table. William Jennings Bryan (seated at left) is being interrogated by Clarence Seward Darrow (standing). Defense lawyers for Scopes (John R. Neal, Arthur Garfield Hays, and Dudley Field Malone) are visible seated to the extreme right. One of the men at left, with his back to the photographer, appears to be Scopes. Photograph by Watson Davis, July 20, 1925. Science Service Records, Smithsonian Institution Archives, image no. SIA2007-0123.


Tennessee v. John T. Scopes Trial: Outdoor proceedings on July 20, 1925, showing William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Seward Darrow.


Science Service journalist Watson Davis observed the July 20, 1925, court session from behind the defense team and from a perspective opposite that of William Silverman. Note the same straw hat on a pole visible in the Silverman photographs and the court reporters seated at a table. William Jennings Bryan (seated at left) is being interrogated by Clarence Seward Darrow (standing). Defense lawyers for Scopes (John R. Neal, Arthur Garfield Hays, and Dudley Field Malone) are visible seated to the extreme right. One of the men at left, with his back to the photographer, appears to be Scopes. Photograph by Watson Davis, July 20, 1925. Science Service Records, Smithsonian Institution Archives, image no. SIA2007-0124.


Tennessee v. John T. Scopes Trial: Outdoor proceedings on July 20, 1925, showing William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Seward Darrow.


Science Service journalist Watson Davis observed the July 20, 1925, court session from behind the defense team and from a perspective opposite that of William Silverman. Note the same straw hat on a pole visible in the Silverman photographs and the court reporters seated at a table. William Jennings Bryan (seated at left) is being interrogated by Clarence Seward Darrow (standing). The court reporters are seated at the table. Defense lawyers for John T. Scopes (John R. Neal and Arthur Garfield Hays) are visible seated on the right. In this frame (number 4 in the sequence) Dudley Field Malone has leaned back in his seat. One of the men at left, with his back to the photographer, appears to be Scopes. Photograph by Watson Davis, July 20, 1925. Science Service Records, Smithsonian Institution Archives, image no. SIA2007-0125.

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90 lire Lamb and Tablets of the Law single

National Postal Museum
On April 23, 1974, Vatican City issued two stamps to observe the centennial of the Universal Postal Union. The 50-lire stamp depicts a mosaic of Noah's ark with a rainbow and a dove with olive branch. The 90-lire stamp depicts a lamb drinking water from a mountain stream and has the Tablets of the Law on top.

The stamps were issued in panes of thirty and have a perforation of 13 1/4 x 14. IPS, Rome, printed 1,600,000 complete sets in five colors, offset, on glossy white paper.

Reference:

"Centenary of the Universal Postal Union." Vatican Notes 23, no. 1 (July-August 1974): 1.

9. Panel: A Work in Progress - (Re)Presenting America: The Evolution of Culturally Specific Museums

National Museum of the American Indian
The National Museum of the American Latino Commission's report recommending the establishment of a Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino prompts debate concerning the value of "ethnic" or "culturally specific" museums. Thoughtful people ask whether the proliferation of museums dedicated to particular experiences or cultures contributes to the "balkanization" of the United States. Others observe that traditional museums have not represented our country's people and their achievements as fully as they should be. Ethnic/culturally specific museums, they note, provide different portals into what it means to be an American, and their programs provide depth and fullness of perspective, enriching our national narrative. These are serious questions that the Smithsonian seeks to address in a comprehensive, insightful way. By presenting various facets of the existence and practices of "ethnic/culturally specific" museums at the Smithsonian and elsewhere, this special symposium advances a vital discussion of a challenging subject. It provides an important step toward understanding the history of museums in matters of race, the development of "ethnic/culturally specific" museums, and the development of a cogent philosophy on these museums. #CulturalMuseums

9 Percent of People Would Have Sex With a Robot (And 42 Percent of Them Would Consider It Cheating)

Smithsonian Magazine

Image: mikecogh

Robots are getting better at everything. Including sex. Vibrator technology is advancing swiftly, with products like Vibease, which adjusts its speed based on voice cues from erotic e-books, and teledildonic apps that can control a vibrator from afar. It won’t be long until sex robots move from being experimental, fringe-bots to widely available technology—and nearly 10 percent of people are ready for it. In a survey by YouGov and the Huffington Post, 9 percent of participants said they would have sex with a robot if they could. 

But there is a whole suite of questions that arise when sex robots become a reality. For instance, is having sex with a robot cheating? Forty-two percent of respondents said that it would be, while 31 percent said it wouldn’t. A quarter of people, however, were unsure. Which is characteristic of these sorts of questions. At FastCo Labs, Michael Grothus writes about this weird conundrum:

Sex with a vibrator = not cheating.

Sex with a vibrator that has legs and eyes and a face = cheating.

Ironically, it’s the possibility of sex with inhuman robots that reveals something very human about our concept of what sex is. To humans sex is more than mechanics and pleasure; it’s emotion and connection, which are primarily conveyed through human-only traits, like eye contact, empathy, and a partner’s careful observation. But one day machines will be able to convey those traits, and when that happens is when the real debate over sex and technology begins.

Once sex robots become available, it’s likely that more than 9 percent of people will at least consider trying them out. And when they do exist, we’ll have to face these questions of machine infidelity head on.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Sex Itself is Deadly for These Poor Little Male Spiders
The Anatomy of Dinosaur Sex

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