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Verzeichniss bekannter Schmettlinge / verfasst von Jacob Hübner

Smithsonian Libraries
"Anzeiger der im Verzeichnisse bekannter Schmetterlinge Angenommenen benennungen ihrer Horden, Rotten, Stämme, Familien, Vereine und Gattungen": p. 1-72 (2nd group)

Also available online.


SCNHRB has two copies, each printed on different paper.

SCNHRB c. 1 (39088013482120) has, in upper corners of each page, dates stamped ranging from 1816-1826 and pencilled from 1816 to 1827. With occasional pencilled ms. notes in text. Ms. note on 1st front free endpaper: "Dates according to Hemming 937 stamped on each page."

SCNHRB c. 1 has stamped on t.p.: Smithsonian Libraries Nov 16 1977.

SCNHRB c. 1 has armorial bookplate of Gulielmus Bree, AM Rector of Allesley.

SCNHRB c. 1 has bookplate of Clarke. Inscribed in ink on 1st front free endpaper: To J.F. Gates Clarke with kindest regards and all good wishes from W.H. Adams [?].

SCNHRB c. 1 has tipped in on the front free endpapers: a printed bibliographical note on "Huebner's 'Tentamen'" by J.W. Tutt, excised from the Entomologist's record and journal of variation (volume 14 (1902), pages 166-168), containing a reprint of the 'Tentamen' that has been heavily annotated in ink and pencil.

SCNHRB c. 1 in calf binding, with gilt and blind rules at border of covers; blind-tooled spine, title in gilt within red leather spine label; red sprinkled edges, marbled endpapers. Re-backed.

SCNHRB c. 1 bound with: Hübner, Jacob. Systematisch-alphabetisches Verzeichniss aller bisher bey den Fürbildungen zur Sammlung europäischer Schmetterlinge. Augusburg: Bey dem Verfasser zu Finden, 1822. Bound together subsequent to publication.

SCNHRB c. 2 (39088013482161 ) stamped on t.p.: Smithsonian Institution ("cancelled") [and] Smithsonian Institution National Museum Nov 3 1937 [ms. acc. no.] 305841.

SCNHRB c. 2 bound in black library buckram, title in white on spine, red sprinkled edges.

Cubist (American) Boy with Colourful Tree

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden


National Museum of African Art
Triptych of distemper and gesso on wood with three registers on each panel and raised border painted white with red inscription. Triptych features various saints and religious iconography, including a central female figure in blue (Mary) and St. George slaying a serpent.

Wild at Heart

Smithsonian Magazine

At 9 a.m. the morning fog is beginning to lift from eastern Yosemite Valley. Thirteen sixth graders are milling around, preparing to set off on a daylong excursion. Bundled in fleece jackets against the chilly air, the kids are chattering about their ultimate destination: Yosemite's "Spider Caves." One rumor—that it's pitch-dark in there—is true. But others just may be exaggerated. "My sister has been there before; she said you can fall a really long way," says 11-year-old Charles Healow.

The students have converged here under the auspices of the Yosemite National Institutes, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting young people with this magnificent wilderness, using its 761,000 acres as a classroom. On weeklong outdoor-education outings in Yosemite, iPods and laptops are banned. For many of these sixth graders, all of whom attend the Notre Dame des Victoires school in San Francisco, going unplugged is a rude awakening. Ordinarily, admits 11-year-old Kenny Tankeh, "I'd be home right now, watching TV." The institute estimates that school-age children across the nation spend, on average, fewer than eight minutes outside each day. "We're aiming to be the antidote to this nature deficit disorder," says the organization's Adam Burns.

Today the instructors are leading 20 student groups into the park. During an academic year, more than 14,000 kids will trek here. Most attend schools in California; this week's groups include a contingent from New York City. Last month, students came from as far away as Beijing.

The wilderness immersion programs were started in 1971, when Santa Barbara high-school teacher Don Rees brought a class to Yosemite. That same year, in cooperation with Rees, the National Park Service expanded his idea to help create the Yosemite National Institutes. The fledgling venture benefited from the support of several high-profile board members, including astronaut Bill Anders and actor Robert Redford, who had worked in Yosemite after high school.

Early in the afternoon, the Notre Dame des Victoires group, led by institute staffer Laura Manczewski, clambers up a rocky slope to the Spider Caves. The youngsters lower themselves into impenetrable darkness. "I can't find my foot!" yells 12-year-old Charles Kieser from the inky gloom. "I lost my right foot!" Ten minutes and 100 feet later, the students emerge one at a time through a crevice, smiling and squinting into the light.

Manczewski tells everyone to sit on the grass and write in their journals. A half-hour later, Kieser volunteers to share his musings. "The Spider Caves are like life, because you can't always see ahead of you," he reads, "but if you keep going, you'll find your way." It's the kind of road-less-traveled insight that John Muir himself might well have understood—and appreciated.

The 2013 Smithsonian American Ingenuity Awards Liveblog

Smithsonian Magazine

Today, we announced the winners of the 2013 Smithsonian American Ingenuity Awards, honoring innovators in nine fields, ranging from technology to social progress to historical scholarship. Tonight, at a gala in Washington, DC, we celebrate our award winners: Adam Steltzner, John Rogers, Caroline Hoxby, Dr. Michael Skinner, Mimi Lok and Dave Eggers, Caroline Winterer, Doug Aitken, Saumil Bandyopadhyay and St. Vincent. Follow along as we liveblog quotes, interviews, photos and special updates from the gala as we champion the best in innovation.

We look forward to seeing you tonight at 7:45 p.m. ETSign up below in the CoverItLive liveblog to get an email reminder, or just come back to this spot at 7:45 p.m.

Oral history interview with Kenneth Josephson, 2015 September 29-30

Archives of American Art
4 sound files (3 hrs., 26 min.) digital, wav

Transcript 85 p.

An interview with Kenneth Josephson conducted 2015 September 29-30, by Lanny Silverman, for the Archives of American Art's Chicago Art and Artists: Oral History Project, at Josephson's home and studio in Chicago, Illinois.

Josephson speaks of visiting libraries and museums as a child growing up in Detroit, MI; his undergraduate education at the Rochester Institute of Technology; his photographic influences, including Conceptual and avant-garde photographers; joining the Army at the end of the Korean War; how working as a photographer at Chrysler influenced his style; attending graduate school at the Illinois Institute of Design; his early film artworks; his style of incorporating images within images; showing his work at galleries in New York, including the Light Gallery; his more recent collaborations with his partner, Marilyn Zimmerwoman; his compositional style and aesthetic choices; and censorship in art and photography. Josephson also recalls Beaumont Newhall, Minor White, Ansel Adams, Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, Arthur Sinsabaugh, John Szarkowski, and others.

Ruler Advertising Friden Calculating Machines

National Museum of American History
This promotional white plastic six-inch ruler is divided along the top edge to sixteenths of an inch and numbered by fourths from 1 to 6. The bottom edge has six one-inch sections, three of which are divided to 1/12" and three of which are divided to 1/10". The ruler is marked: PRODUCTS OF Friden THE NATURAL WAY ADDING MACHINE (/) THE AUTOMATIC CALCULATOR (/) THE COMPUTYPER (/) DATA PROCESSING MACHINES. It is also marked: FRIDEN, INC. (/) 1724 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W. (/) Washington 7, D.C. (/) Phone ADams 2-6377. The back of the ruler has lists of decimal equivalents for twelfths, eighths, and sixteenths. Another list gives the number of days from January 1 to the first of each month. The right edge has a 15cm ruler, divided to millimeters. The bottom edge is marked: Printed in U.S.A. During World War I, Carl Friden (1891–1945) emigrated from Sweden to Australia and then to the United States. He patented numerous improvements to calculating machines while working for the Marchant Calculating Machine Company of Oakland, Calif. With his royalties, he established Friden Calculating Machine Company in 1933. After briefly renting factory space, the firm built a factory in San Leandro, Calif., in 1937. In addition to calculating machines, Friden made precision machine tools and aircraft instruments. After purchasing Commercial Controls Corporation in 1957, it began making automatic electric typewriters for producing mass business correspondence. The Singer Corporation purchased the company in 1965 and phased out the Friden brand name in 1974. Friden opened a branch office in Washington, D.C., by 1935 and operated it until around 1980. Waverly Dickson (1909–1967) was the branch manager from 1935 to 1967, and he and his sister, Lulie Dickson, owned the building at 1724 Wisconsin Ave. Theodore A. Peck (1892–1978) was the sales manager from 1945 to 1968. Large American cities used postal zone numbers from 1943 to 1963, hence the dating of the object. The Smithsonian owns at least 18 Friden calculators and nearly 20 pieces of related documentation. For promotional rulers by Monroe's chief competitors, see MA.293320.2811, MA.293320.2812, and MA.293320.2816. References: John Wolff, "The Friden Calculating Machine Company," December 9, 2012, John Wolff's Web Museum,; "Waverly Dickson, Manager of Firm," Washington Post (March 24, 1967), B6; "Theodore Peck, Retired Sales Manager for Friden," Washington Post (November 11, 1978), B6.

Oral history interview with Robert Trotman, 2005 September 14

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 51 pages.

An interview of Robert Trotman conducted 2005 September 14, by Carla Hanzal, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at the artist's studio, in Casar, N.C.

Trotman discusses how he first became involved and attracted to woodworking while living in northern Virginia in the 1970s; his early involvement with the Penland School of Crafts, Penland, N.C., and its influence on his work; his first visits to galleries in New York, including the Paula Cooper Gallery, the Heller Gallery, and the Holly Solomon Gallery, in the early 1980s; the difference between art and craft, and where his work fits in that continuum; why he stopped making furniture in 1997, and what he hopes to accomplish as a sculptor; his major artistic influences, including Martin Puryear, Judith Shea, and James Surls; his academic background in philosophy, which was his major in college, and his attraction to existentialism, especially the writings of Franz Kafka; his upper-middle class childhood in Winston-Salem, N.C., where his father was a banker and his mother a homemaker, who was interested in early American furniture and antiques; his view of America as puritanical and of the American upper classes as "wooden," lacking feeling and soul; his uncle, Frank Trotman, a gallery/frame shop owner who lived a Bohemian lifestyle in Winston-Salem in the 1940s, and exposed him to the artist's lifestyle; his fascination with his grandmother's collection of wooden figures, which consisted of four- and five-inch-tall European peasant characters; his interest in human psychology, and his attraction to writers such as Slavoj Zizek and Jacques Lacan in particular; the pleasure he gets from working with wood and the strengths of its unique qualities; his commissions and how he feels they fit into his oeuvre overall; his teaching experiences; and the influence and support of his wife, Jane Trotman, on whom he relies for advice and feedback. Trotman also recalls John Brooks, Sam Maloof, Tom Spleth, Stuart Kestenbaum, Ron Mueck, Evan Penny, John Currin, Robert Lazzarini, Julie Heffernan, Stephan Balkenhol, George Adams, Robert Morris, and others.

Oral history interview with Marcella Comès (Winslow), 1982 May 4

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 28 pages.

An interview with Marcella Comès (Winslow) conducted 1982 May 4, by Estill Curtis (Buck) Pennington, for the Archives of American Art, at Winslow's home in Washington, D.C.

Winslow speaks of her art training at the Carnegie School of Fine Arts and in Europe; her first portrait commission; her first exhibitions in Pittsburgh, Pa.; her marriage to William Randolph Winslow and their relocation to Washington, D.C.; the Corcoran Gallery, the Phillips Gallery and the arts community in Washington, D.C., and exhibitions available in the 1940s and 1950s; the many Southern writers she painted and the Southern literary renaissance; her studio in Georgetown and how she came to live and work there and in New Hampshire; painting people realistically, and their reactions to that realism as they get older; her work with Artists' Equity in Washington, D.C.; exhibiting in local galleries; the Whyte Gallery, the Obelisk, and the Bader Gallery, the Henri Gallery, and Jefferson Place; changing styles to cubism and abstraction from realism, and how cultural mood dictates artistic styles; her various interests outside of painting, including her garden, her grandchildren, and her house; and the changes in Washington, D.C., and Georgetown in particular, over the years that she has lived there. Ms. Winslow speaks in great detail about the people whose portraits she painted, including: Monsignor Francis Spellman; her mother-in-law, writer Anne Goodwin Winslow; Allen Tate, who introduced her to many of the writers she subsequently painted; Tate's wife Caroline Gordon; John Crowe Ransom; John Peale Bishop; Robert Penn Warren; Katherine Anne Porter; Ezra Pound; Robert Lowell; Eudora Welty; Karl Shapiro; Leonie Adams; Elizabeth Bishop; Mark van Doren; Denis Devlin; Juan Ramon Jimenez; Katherine Chapin Biddle; Robert Frost; Richard Eberhart; Joanna Sturm; and Alice Roosevelt Longworth. Ms. Winslow also recalls Homer Saint-Gaudens, Robert Franklin (Bob) Gates, Margaret Casey Gates, William (Bill) Calfee, Sarah Baker, Bernice Cross, Mitchell Jamieson, Herman Williams, Bill Walton, and others.

The oldest microscope in the museum

National Museum of American History

In the store-rooms of the museum, we recently discovered a small microscope made around 1750. The "I. CUFF Londini Inv. & Fec." inscription (which is Latin for "designed and made by I. Cuff of London") is that of John Cuff (1708-1772), a talented instrument maker whose shop was to be found "directly against Serjeant’s-Inn Gate in Fleet-Street." Maps of the period indicate that this address was just three doors away from Crane Court, home of the Royal Society of London, an early and important scientific organization. While craftsmen such as Cuff were seldom elected to Fellowship in the Society, they could attend meetings and interact with gentlemen who might appreciate and afford their wares.

Wooden box lined with green velvet containing microscope parts

At a meeting of the Royal Society in the winter of 1738-1739, Cuff met Johann Nathanael Lieberkühn, a German physician who had come to England to promote two instruments he had recently devised. One, the solar microscope, used sunlight to throw an enlarged image of a small specimen onto a wall on the other side of the room. The other, the microscope for opaque objects, used a silvered mirror to throw light onto the objects under investigation. After watching Lieberkühn's demonstration, Cuff took great pains to improve these instruments and "bring them to perfection"—the words are from Henry Baker, Fellow of the Royal Society and author of The Microscope Made Easy (London, 1742), a popular text that went through several editions.

It was also through the Royal Society that Cuff hooked up with Abraham Trembley, a Swiss naturalist whose observations of small aquatic creatures that could regenerate lost parts was creating a buzz within the scientific community. Martin Folkes, President of the Royal Society, showed some of Trembley's polyps (as the creatures were known) to large and enthusiastic audiences in March 1743, and probably used his Cuff microscope for this purpose. When Trembley visited London in 1745, he asked Cuff to make a microscope that would facilitate observations of aquatic creatures as they moved about. By 1747, Cuff was boasting of "The AQUATIC MICROSCOPE" which was "invented by him for the Examination of Water Animals."

Microscope set up on case

Our microscope is of this sort. It is a brass instrument with a single lens that can move in three directions (right and left; forward and back; up and down), a large stage, and a sub-stage mirror. A wooden box covered with fish-skin serves as a base for the microscope when in use, and as protection when not. There are also several extra lenses as well as sliders made of ivory. The provenance, alas, is unknown.

In 1752, Cuff made a slightly simplified aquatic microscope for the naturalist, John Ellis, and Ellis included an explanation and illustration of this instrument in his Essay Towards a Natural History of the Corallines (London, 1755), a popular text that was soon republished in French, Dutch and German. Ellis also sent an example of this instrument to Alexander Garden, a physician and naturalist in Charleston, South Carolina, who gave his name to the Gardenia. This was probably the first aquatic microscope, and the first Cuff instrument, in North America.

Cuff may have had many talents, but he was a lousy businessman who went bankrupt in a terribly competitive environment. When George Adams, proprietor of the leading instrument shop in London, offered "Ellis's aquatic microscopes," he essentially erased all memory of the contributions that Cuff and Trembley had made to the form. Most historians have followed Adams' lead, but our aquatic microscope may help restore the record.

Deborah Warner is a Curator of the Physical Sciences Collection in the National Museum of American History. She has also blogged about the buzz for spectroscopy.

Want more stories of American innovation and inventiveness? Join us to explore the theme of American innovation through blog postsexhibitions, collections, programs, and more

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Meet the 100 Most Significant Americans of All Time

Smithsonian Magazine

How much does Thomas Paine matter? More than Harriet Beecher Stowe? Less than Elvis? On a par with Dwight Eisenhower? Would you have answered these questions differently ten years ago? Will you answer them differently ten years from now? In a culture so saturated with information and so fragmented by the search possibilities of the Internet, how do we measure historical significance?

Steven Skiena and Charles B. Ward have come up with a novel answer. Skiena is the Distinguished Teaching Professor of Computer Science at Stony Brook University and a co-founder of the social-analytics company General Sentiment. Ward is an engineer at Google, specializing in ranking methodologies. Their answer involves high-level math. They subject the historical zeitgeist to the brute rigors of quantitative analysis in a recent book, Who’s Bigger? Where Historical Figures Really Rank.


Who's Bigger?: Where Historical Figures Really Rank

~ Charles B. Ward (author) More about this product
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Simply put, Skiena and Ward have developed an algorithmic method of ranking historical figures, just as Google ranks web pages. But while Google ranks web pages according to relevance to your search terms, Skiena and Ward rank people according to their historical significance, which they define as “the result of social and cultural forces acting on the mass of an individual’s achievement.” Their rankings account not only for what individuals have done, but also for how well others remember and value them for it.

Their method requires a massive amount of big data on historical reputation. This they found in the English-language Wikipedia, which has more than 840,000 pages devoted to individuals from all times and places, plus data extracted from the 15 million books Google has scanned. They analyzed this data to produce a single score for each person, using a formula that incorporates the number of links to each page, the number of page visits, the length of each entry and the frequency of edits to each page. Their algorithms differentiate between two kinds of historical reputation, what they call “gravitas” and “celebrity.” Finally, their method requires a means of correcting for the “decay” in historical reputation that comes with the passage of time; they developed an algorithm for that, too. By their reckoning, Jesus, Napoleon, Muhammad, William Shakespeare and Abraham Lincoln rank as the top five figures in world history. Their book ranks more than 1,000 individuals from all around the world, providing a new way to look at history.

Skiena and Ward would be the first to acknowledge that their method has limitations. Their concept of significance has less to do with achievement than with an individual’s strength as an Internet meme—how vividly he or she remains in our collective memory. The English-language Wikipedia favors Americans over foreigners, men over women, white people over others and English speakers over everyone else. In their rankings of Americans only, past presidents occupy 39 of the first 100 spots, suggesting an ex-officio bias.

That’s where we come in. Smithsonian magazine has been covering American history in depth from its inaugural issue, published in 1970. Among the Smithsonian Institution museums we work closely with is the National Museum of American History. By synthesizing our expertise with the systematic rigor of Skiena and Ward’s rankings, we sought to combine the best of quantitative measures and qualitative judgment. 

First, we asked Skiena and Ward to separate figures significant to American history from the world population. Then, rather than simply taking their top 100, we developed categories that we believe are significant, and populated our categories with people in Skiena and Ward’s order (even if they ranked below 100). This system helped mitigate the biases of Wikipedia.

We have highlighted what we decided was the most interesting choice within each category with a slightly fuller biographical sketch. And finally, we made an Editors’ Choice in each category, an 11th American whose significance we’re willing to argue for.

Argument, of course, has been integral to American historiography from the beginning. When Andrew Gelman, a professor of statistics and political science at Columbia University, wrote that Who’s Bigger? “is a guaranteed argument-starter,” he meant it as a compliment. We hope our list will spark a few passionate discussions as well.

Here is our list; to read about what made each person siginficant, pick up a copy of the special issue at a newsstand near you.


Christopher Columbus
Henry Hudson
Amerigo Vespucci
John Smith
Giovanni da Verrazzano
John Muir
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
Kit Carson
Neil Armstrong
John Wesley Powell

Rebels & resisters

Martin Luther King Jr.
Robert E. Lee
Thomas Paine
John Brown
Frederick Douglass
Susan B. Anthony
W.E.B. Du Bois
Sitting Bull
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Malcolm X


Abraham Lincoln
George Washington
Thomas Jefferson
Theodore Roosevelt
Ulysses S. Grant
Ronald W. Reagan
George W. Bush
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Woodrow Wilson
James Madison
Andrew Jackson

First Women

Eleanor Roosevelt
Hillary Clinton
Sarah Palin
Martha Washington
Hellen Keller
Sojourner Truth
Jane Addams
Edith Wharton
Bette Davis
Oprah Winfrey


Benedict Arnold
Jesse James
John Wilkes Booth
Al Capone
Billy the Kid
William M. “Boss” Tweed
Charles Manson
Wild Bill Hickok
Lee Harvey Oswald
John Dillinger
Lucky Luciano


Frank Lloyd Wright
Andy Warhol
Frederick Law Olmsted
James Abbott MacNeill Whistler
Jackson Pollock
John James Audubon
Georgia O’Keeffe
Thomas Eakins
Thomas Nast
Alfred Stieglitz
Ansel Adams

Religious figures

Joseph Smith Jr.
William Penn
Brigham Young
Roger Williams
Anne Hutchinson
Jonathan Edwards
L. Ron Hubbard
Ellen G. White
Cotton Mather
Mary Baker Eddy
Billy Graham

Pop icons

Mark Twain
Elvis Presley
Bob Dylan
Michael Jackson
Charlie Chaplin
Jimi Hendrix
Marilyn Monroe
Frank Sinatra
Louis Armstrong
Mary Pickford


Andrew Carnegie
Henry Ford
John D. Rockefeller
J.P. Morgan
Walt Disney
Thomas Alva Edison
William Randolph Hearst
Howard Hughes
Bill Gates
Cornelius Vanderbilt
Steve Jobs


Babe Ruth
Muhammad Ali
Jackie Robinson
James Naismith
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Ty Cobb
Michael Jordan
Hulk Hogan
Jim Thorpe
Billie Jean King

No, We Still Cannot Confirm the Identity of Jack the Ripper

Smithsonian Magazine

After 130 years, do we finally know the identity of Jack the Ripper? Unfortunately, no. After releasing test results of a controversial silk shawl stained with blood and, possibly, semen, supposedly found at the scene of one of the Ripper killings, forensic scientists are pointing the finger at Aaron Kosminski, a 23-year-old Polish barber in London who was one of the first suspects identified by London police in the Ripper case. But like all elements in the Jack the Ripper saga, the evidence they’re offering is not able to close the book on the string of murders that terrorized the London streets of 1888.

The case for the barber’s unmasking is tied to the shawl alleged to have been found next to Catherine Eddowes, the Ripper’s fourth victim. As David Adam at Science reports, the cloth was acquired by Ripper enthusiast Russell Edwards in 2007, who had it DNA tested. While Edwards published the results in his 2014 book, Naming Jack the Ripper, he kept the DNA results and methods under wraps, making it impossible to assess or verify the claims of Kosminski as Ripper. Now, the biochemists who ran those tests, Jari Louhelainen of John Moores University in Liverpool and David Miller of the University of Leeds, have published the data in the Journal of Forensic Sciences.

There, the researchers explain they subjected the shawl to infrared imagery and spectrophotometry testing. They also inspected the stains using a microscope to determine what made them. Under ultraviolet light, they found that one stain was possibly produced by semen.

The researchers then vacuumed up what DNA fragments the could from the shawl, finding little modern contamination and many degraded short fragments, consistent with DNA of that age. They compared mitochondrial DNA in the sample, which is passed down from mother to child, to a descendent of Eddowes, finding that it was a match. The team also found a match to a descendant of Kosminski in other bits of mitochondrial DNA.

“All the data collected support the hypothesis that the shawl contains biological material from Catherine Eddowes and that the mtDNA sequences obtained from semen stains match the sequences of one of the main police suspects, Aaron Kosminski,” they write in the study.

But as Adam at Science reports, this more detailed data still doesn’t say enough. As Hansi Weissensteiner, a mitochondrial DNA expert, points out, mitochondrial DNA can’t be used to positively ID a suspect, it can only rule one out since thousands of other people could have had the same mitochondrial DNA. Additionally, experts have critiqued the way the results were published, as some of the data is shown as graphs instead of the actual results. Forensic scientist Walther Parson says the authors should publish the mitochondrial DNA sequences. “Otherwise the reader cannot judge the result,” Parson says.

Beyond the results, there’s an even bigger obstacle afoot—the provenance of the shawl. For The Conversation, Mick Reed explains the shawl’s origin story is full of problems. Was a shawl even picked up by Metropolitan Police officer Amos Simpson at the crime scene that night? Even if that were true, whether this scarf is the authentic one is up for debate; the cloth was previously dated to the Edwardian period, from 1901 to 1910, as well as to the early 1800s, and could come from anywhere in Europe.

Historian Hallie Rubenhold, author of the new book The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper, has been among the Ripper experts to criticize the conclusions. “[T]here is no historical evidence, no documentation that links this shawl at all to Kate Eddowes. This is history at its worst,” she wrote on Twitter in response to a headline that claimed the newly published research "proved" Jack the Ripper had been identified.

While it seems there's no way we'll ever know for certain who the murderer was, Rubenhold makes the case that it doesn't matter all that much. What she prioritizes are the identities of the women he murdered, whose names we have record of. As Meilan Solly recently reported for, Rubenhold’s research "dedicates little space to the man who killed her subjects and the gory manner in which he did so." Instead, it shifts the focus of the Jack the Ripper narrative to lives—not deaths—of his victims.

Here's What You Missed At the White House's First-Ever South By South Lawn Festival

Smithsonian Magazine

It’s not everyday that you see food trucks, giant works of art and big-name celebrities on the White House lawn. But South by South Lawn (SXSL), the White House’s first-ever festival of ideas, art, and action, brought food, demonstrations of new tech, music and a whole lot of creative people to the president’s backyard on Monday.

It also earned President Obama a new distinction, as “commander in cool.”

Modeled off the famed South by Southwest (SXSW) festival with film, media and music held every year in Austin, Texas, SXSL had panel discussions and exhibits on food sustainability, climate change and technology that could potentially improve everything from the justice system to cancer care. When the White House announced the event in early September, it asked people to nominate change agents in their communities who might be interested in attending. More than 20,000 were nominated.

“Earlier this year, the President traveled to South by Southwest, where he challenged tech leaders, creators and entrepreneurs to leverage the latest technology, the most innovative approaches to solve some of our country’s toughest challenges. And today, he’s bringing that call to action to the White House, to the South Lawn, to be precise, in the first ever South by South Lawn festival,” said Press Secretary John Earnest at a press briefing.

One exhibit, called 6’x 9’, created by The Guardian and The Mill, provided a virtual reality experience of what it is like to be in solitary confinement for nine minutes. Another exhibit hosted by Black Girls Code, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching girls of color programming and game design, and Sphero, a data driven sphere controlled by a smart phone, gave visitors a chance to play with robots.

MythBusters’ Adam Savage and a team of makers from Baltimore made the giant letters “SXSL” that lit up every time someone posted to social media using the hasthag #sxsl. Artist Nathan Sawaya brought his Park People, sculptures of people made entirely of Legos.

An impressive lineup of musicians performed, from Gallant, Black Alley, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings and DJ Bev Bond to the show-closer, the Lumineers.

Stars of the hit show Stranger Things came out to present the winners of the White House Student Film Festival. Each of the 700 or so short films, produced by aspiring filmmakers in grades K-12, offered a vision of the future, and fit the contest’s theme, “The World I Want to Live In.”

The main event was a conversation, led by President Obama, on climate change with Leonardo DiCaprio and climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe. When talking about leaders taking on climate change, DiCaprio said, “I'm so very honored and pleased to be joined onstage with one of those leaders—a President who has done more to create solutions for the climate change crisis than any other in history—President Barack Obama.” Immediately following the discussion was the domestic premiere of DiCaprio’s new climate documentary, Before the Flood

Press Secretary Earnest said of the event: “It celebrates the work of everyday Americans who are using cutting-edge technology, art, film and innovative thinking to shape a better future for Americans and across the globe.”

Hawthorn's Mechanics' Slide Rule

National Museum of American History
From the late 18th to the mid-19th centuries, British engineers began to use slide rules. This ivory and silver instrument is a four-fold engineer's rule that unfolds to a length of 24 inches. On half of one side is a slide rule with A and D scales on the base and B and C scales on the slide. The A and D scales seem to run continuously, although the slide only moves on the second six inches of the rule. The words IRON and ROPE appear several times along the edge of the A scale. Along the edge of the D scale is marked: DESCRIPTION SQUARE CYL[I]ND[ER] GLOBE SQUARE CYL[I]ND[ER] WEIGHT STRAIN WORK INCLIN[E] POLYGON SIDE GOVERNORS H[ORSE]P[OWER] ENGIN[E]S STE[A]M TEM[PERATURE]. When the rule is folded, these markings correspond to the tables on the other half of the instrument. The other half of this side has a table of gauge points for the A scale. Instructions printed on the rule suggest that calculations on the slide rule were intended to be made with calipers. Additional tables and instructions for working with ropes and chains are on this half, which is marked: IMPROVED & ARRANG[E]D (/) BY RT HAWTHORN (/) CIVIL ENGINEER (/) NEWCASTLE TYNE. The other side has a scale of 24 inches divided to eighths of an inch along the edge. The metal joint has a protractor divided in increments of 5 degrees and marked by tens from 0 to 180. When the instrument is folded around the joint, there are tables for the extreme strain possible in bars and beams of various substances and for equivalent measures. The joint is marked: G. R. STEPHENSON (/) ENGINEER (/) Adam Pensom. In 1832 civil engineer Robert Hawthorn (1796–1867) designed a new form of slide rule for manufacturing locomotives and other engines. In 1859 dealers sold the rule for 5 shillings and 6 pence. The names on the joint may refer to the British civil engineer George Robert Stephenson (1819–1905), nephew to the engineer George Stephenson (1781–1848), who sought mechanical advice from Hawthorn's father, and to Adam Pensom (b. 1824), who was a retired gas engineer living in London, according to the 1881 British census. The Smithsonian acquired this object in 1973. References: Robert Hawthorn, Instructions for the Use of the Mechanics' Sliding Rule (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1841), available online at; "Mr. Robert Hawthorn," Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers 27 (1867–1868): 590–592; advertisement by John Archbutt, The Mechanics' Magazine, n.s., 1, no. 10 (March 4, 1859): 486; Peter M. Hopp, Joint Slide Rules (Jeremy Mills Publishing: Lindley, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, 2009).

17th-Century Bible Stolen From Pittsburgh Library Recovered in the Netherlands

Smithsonian Magazine

In April 2017, a routine insurance appraisal of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s rare book collection revealed 321 missing items, including atlases, maps, plate books, photograph albums and manuscripts valued by experts at around $8 million. Since the news broke, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been on the case, recovering fragments and intact volumes worth an estimated $1.6 million. Last week, a 1615 Geneva Bible similar to one brought from Europe by Pilgrims traveling aboard the Mayflower joined the collection of rediscovered tomes.

According to CNN’s Lauren M. Johnson, authorities found the 404-year-old Bible in the possession of Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs, director of the Netherlands’ Leiden American Pilgrim Museum. As Bangs tells Johnson, he purchased the volume from a seemingly “reputable dealer in antiquarian books” for inclusion in an upcoming exhibition on texts owned by members of Plymouth Colony. During a news conference, district attorney spokesperson Mike Manko said that Bangs paid $1,200 for the Bible, now valued at closer to $5,500, in 2015.

“From a dollar-figure sense, [the Bible] is not priceless,” FBI agent Robert Jones said at the conference. “[But] from a history perspective, it is priceless.”

Known as a “Breeches Bible” for its inclusion of the term in the Genesis’ description of Adam and Eve sewing fig leaf clothes to cover their nakedness, the text was translated by English Protestants who fled to Geneva during the reign of Catholic Queen Mary I.

The trove of missing items is valued at an estimated $8 million (Courtesy of the F.B.I.)

Pennsylvania investigators first alerted Bangs to the Bible's questionable provenance in 2018. After studying the case alongside Dutch police, he agreed to yield the artifact to an expert tasked with bringing it to the country's American Embassy.

The F.B.I.’s Art Crime Team took over from there, The New York Times’ Karen Zraick reports, safely transporting the Bible to the agency’s Pittsburgh offices. As District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. tells the Associated Press’ Ramesh Santanam, the F.B.I. will give the recovered manuscript to Allegheny County prosecutors who will, in turn, return the book to its rightful home at the Carnegie Library.

Last year, prosecutors charged library archivist Gregory Priore with allegedly smuggling hundreds of artifacts to local book dealer John Schulman, who then re-sold them to unsuspecting clients. Priore was the sole archivist in charge of the library’s rare book room from 1992 until his firing in June 2017. According to Shelly Bradbury of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, authorities believe Priore and Schulman, a once-respected member of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America who formerly led the organization’s ethics committee, conspired to sell cannibalized and intact texts, many of which the archivist simply carried out of the library and into the bookseller’s shop, since the late 1990s.

The Father of American Pizza Is Not Who We Thought He Was

Smithsonian Magazine

The true origins of pizza are lost to the hot, gooey mists of time, though it’s safe to say the modern pie came of age as focaccia-based peasant food in Naples in the 1700s. When it comes to American pizza, though, researchers thought they had things nailed down. The father of American pizza was believed to be Gennaro Lombardi, an Italian immigrant who applied for the first restaurant license to sell ’za at a grocery store on Spring Street in Manhattan in 1905. From that NYC epicenter, pizza evangelists spread the gospel of pizza, building to the present where Americans eat 100 acres of pizza per day (and untold numbers of garlic knots). But, food historians have long contended, Lombardi did it first.

Or did he? Independent pizza researcher Peter Regas has scoured 19th-century Italian-American newspapers from New York, finding evidence that pizza became a citizen of the United States years before Lombardi started serving slices.

According to the U.S. Pizza Museum, which will hold a lecture by Regas in Chicago on February 23, Lombardi’s on Spring Street and another of the original pizza joints, John’s on Bleecker Street, were up and running well before Lombardi came on the scene, both likely founded by a forgotten immigrant by the name of Filippo Milone, who was something of a Johnny Appleseed of pizza.

Milone, Regas found, had a pattern of opening pizza joints, sometimes referred to as bakeries, delicatessens or groceries, and selling them off, which appears to be the case with Lombardi's.

The researcher could not track down the legendary 1905 restaurant license that Lombardi supposedly acquired to start his pizzeria, but he did find immigration and birth records for the pizza kingpin, who arrived in New York in 1904. He was just 17 at the time, and his papers classified him as a laborer, which makes it suspect that he opened Spring Street grocery the following year. Instead, Regas believes Milone opened the pizzeria in 1898, sold it to Giovanni Santillo, whom advertisements show was making pizzas there in 1901, before it came, famously, into Lombardi's hands.

John’s on Bleecker Street is also likely older than believed. Legend has it that John Sasso left Lombardi’s to open the restaurant in 1925, but Regas has found evidence it was first opened by Milone in 1915 under the name Pizzeria Port’Alba.

For the pizza world, these revelations are bigger news than that viral video of a rat dragging a pizza through the New York City subway. As Pete Wells, New York Times restaurant critic, put it on Twitter: “This is as if some other dude we’ve never heard of wrote both the Declaration of Independence and the Federalist Papers and then handed them over to Adams Franklin Jefferson Madison Hamilton etc.”

But while today pizza is our shared cultural obsession, it’s not surprising its American origin story is so spotty. Few in the mainstream cared, or even knew what pizza was until after World War II, decades after pie makers first set up shop in Italian neighborhoods.

Food writer Ed Levine’s opus on the “State of the Slice” for Serious Eats explains that it was only when service members stationed in Italy came home with a taste for pizza did things change. Ira Nevin, one of the G.I.s who had acquired serious pizza lust was an oven-repairman and designed the first gas-powered pizza oven, which allowed restaurateurs to make pies without relying on the difficult to operate and maintain wood-fired or coal-fired ovens used by old-style pizzerias. All of this led to the first pizza boom in the States, leading to the early pizza chains in the 1950s. From there, the American pie snowballed like a giant mozzarella-covered meatball until we got the cheese-stuffed-crust, buffalo-chicken flavored, dessert-pizza diversity we have today. Or at least that’s the story we're sticking to until Regas tells us otherwise.

Regas, for his part, said he didn’t intend to blow up pizza history. He was investigating the history of Chicago pizza when he realized the New York origin story of pizza was a little crusty.

There may be more history-shaking discoveries to come. Regas, who hopes to publish a book on the history of American pizza later this year, is posting his source material online and inviting criticism, tips and comments to help him uncover the full, greasy picture of the American pie.

Music of Cuba [sound recording] / recorded by Verna Gillis

Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections

Program notes by John Santos, including bibliography, examples of musical notation and some song lyrics (4 p. : ill.) inserted in container.

Track 101 instruments: Claves: actually, here a bottle struck by a coin substitutes for the claves; Cajon: a tumbadora or conga drum substitutes for the large cajon, a wooden box.

Track 102 contains two Palos. The first includes Ngoma (in this case a two drum set only) and Nkembi (rattle). The second includes Ngoma (this time the full set of three drums), Ngonguf (bell) and Shekere (calabash gourd).

Track 103 is a rhythm dedicated to Ogun, the Yoruba deity of metal and war, identified in the Santeria cult with the Christian saint San Pedro.

Track 104 is a rhythm dedicated to Shango, the Yoruba deity of thunder, passion and virility. He is identified with Santa Barbara.

Track 201 contains the cries of market vendors. It includes a) El Frutero, selling pineapples, mangos, mameyes, coconuts, melons and other fruits; b) El Tamalero, selling hot tamales and refering to Romeo and Juliet and Adam and Eve in his poetry; c) El Panadero, selling baked goods; d) El Pescadero, selling fish.

Recorded in Guanabacoa (Havana, Cuba), Santiago de Cuba (Cuba), Cuba in 1978-79.

Antoni Gaudi’s Barcelona

Smithsonian Magazine

During the late 19th century, Barcelona was Spain’s industrial center, a rapidly growing city whose municipal leaders sought to shape it into a modern, metropolitan capital. Architectural advancements, such as the development of reinforced concrete and the increasing availability of water, electricity and gas in individual homes, gave rise to a building boom that highlighted the region’s cultural revitalization. This era of prosperity and artistic flowering is embodied by the inimitable architecture of Antoni Gaudi.

Between 1883 and 1926 Gaudi designed private residences, apartment buildings, public parks and worship spaces with fantastical, organic lines and lavish Art Nouveau embellishments. Growing up in the rocky, vineyard-strewn Catalonian countryside instilled in him a profound appreciation of the natural world that would infuse his work. Gaudi also drew inspiration from Gothic forms, favoring pillars and buttresses over the modern method of constructing buildings around metal frames. He also had a bit of an ego. When Doña Isabel Güell took up residence in the Palau Güell—Gaudi’s first major work—she complained that she couldn’t fit her piano into the odd-shaped rooms. Gaudi sarcastically replied, “Isabel, believe me, take up the violin.”

Perhaps the apotheosis of his style and career is La Sagrada Familia, a church that Gaudi began in 1883 and was his only architectural project between 1914 and his death in 1926. The building, whose support columns resemble slender trees that branch out to hold up the ceiling, is still under construction. The exterior sculpture depicting Christ’s nativity is one of the few elements built by Gaudi himself and is one of seven of his works declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After his work was the subject of a Museum of Modern Art exhibition in New York in the late 1950s, Gaudi drew increased interest and his buildings became major tourist destinations. Barcelona is home to the majority of Gaudi’s architectural works as well as the Gaudi Museum, located at his private residence within the Parc Güell, a municipal park he designed and built between 1900 and 1914. Visitors to Barcelona can go on a self-guided tour of Gaudi’s buildings—such as the Casa Vicens, a residence that melds architecture with the visual arts, and the Collegi de les Teresianes, an uncharacteristically minimalist convent school—by following the Ruta del Modernisme, a path of red paving stones inset in the pavement that also leads past other examples of modernista architecture.

Image by JLImages / Alamy. Between 1883 and 1926 Gaudi designed private residences, apartment buildings, public parks and worship spaces with fantastical, organic lines and lavish Art Nouveau embellishments. (original image)

Image by Peter Adams Photography Ltd / Alamy. The 19th century era of prosperity and artistic flowering is embodied by the inimitable architecture of Antoni Gaudi. (original image)

Image by [ apply pictures ] / Alamy. Perhaps the apotheosis of his style and career is La Sagrada Familia, a church that Gaudi began in 1883 and was his only architectural project between 1914 and his death in 1926. (original image)

Image by John Kellerman / Alamy. The Park Guell is another of Gaudi's work on the UNESCO World Heritage list. (original image)

Image by Per Karlsson, BKWine 2 / Alamy. Growing up in the rocky, vineyard-strewn Catalonian countryside instilled in Gaudi a profound appreciation of the natural world that would infuse his work. (original image)

A Hemingway Book Has Hit the Paris Bestseller List After Recent Attacks

Smithsonian Magazine

City of lights, city of possibility, city of love—Paris looms large in popular culture. Over the years, it’s played host to thousands of expatriates who try on the belle ville and its legends for size. One of those expats was a young author named Ernest Hemingway, a writer whose name became synonymous with Paris' sparkling creative life during the Roaring Twenties. Now, A Moveable Feast, Hemingway’s book about his years there, is hitting bestseller lists in Paris itself after deadly attacks earlier this month, writes The Guardian’s Alison Flood.

Flood reports that the 1964 book is selling out of bookstores around the city and has also been spotted among tributes left for the 129 victims of the attacks. Its publisher in France, Folio, tells Flood that it is printing additional copies of the book in response to high demand.

In Paris, the book is called Paris Is a Celebration, and it has struck a chord among residents of the city Hemingway recalled so lovingly in his work. Though the book was published after Hemingway’s death, it was assembled from notes he took while living in the city as a young man in the 1920s.

The Guardian’s Sam Jordison writes that though Hemingway was sick and bitter in his old age, he was able to use his notebooks to assemble sketches of a Paris filled with life and joy. The book is also a snapshot of the city’s artistic momentum, with cameos from literary greats like John Dos Passos, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and James Joyce. In recent years, however, it has become the subject of controversy with the publication of a “restored” version of the manuscript that claims to have excised the contributions of Hemingway’s fourth wife, who assembled her late husband's work after his death.

But questions about the book’s authorship or authenticity haven’t stopped Parisians from snapping it up since the attacks. Sandra Spanier, who edits the Hemingway Letters Project at Penn State University, tells The Atlantic’s Adam Chandler that A Movable Feast's reignited popularity might be due to the fact that it reflects the city’s glamor and possibility through the eyes of sympathetic outsiders—much like recent outpourings of love from around the world.

No matter the motivation, Hemingway’s perspective on the Paris of the past seems to have just as much power today as it did when the book was released. “There is never any end to Paris,” as Hemingway writes, has taken on new significance as a defiant city seeks solace in the wake of one of its darkest moments.

The AR-15 Seems To Be the Weapon of Chioce in Random Acts of Violence

Smithsonian Magazine

On Monday morning, Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old Navy veteran, opened fire in the Washington Navy Yard, killing at least 13 people. His weapons was initially reported to be, likely, the AR-15—although authorities are saying now they’re less certain about that. The AR-15,  CNN reports, is  the most popular rifle is reportedly the most popular rifle in America and also seems to be the favorite of some recent mass-murderers.

While sources are still trying to confirm whether Alexis used the AR-15 in yesterday’s killings or only rented one but returned it shortly before his rampage, CNN highlights a few of the headlines AR-15s have made in the recent past:

  • Sandy Hook, 2012: Adam Lanza used an AR-15 to kill 26 people, including children, at Sandy Hook elementary school 
  • Aurora, 2012: James Holmes used an AR-15 plus several other weapons to kill 12 people and wound 50 in  
  • Portland, 2012: Jacob Tyler Roberts killed two people at a mall with a stolen AR-15 
  • Santa Monica: John Zawahri built his own AR-15-like rifle, which he used to killed five people 

“It’s the preferred mass shooter’s weapon of choice,” Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford told CNN. “I don’t see a logical reason why any civilian needs to have one of these killing machines.” 

The magazine-fed AR-15 was first developed by the U.S. Army as an assault rifle in 1958, but financial problems caused the model to soon be sold to Colt, which created a civilian, semi-automatic version released in 1963. Other companies caught on to the gun’s popularity for hunting, target practice and personal protection, and now make various versions that are sold under different names. Currently, the U.S. issues no federal restrictions on purchasing AR-15s. As Mother Jones points out, of the 67 mass shootings in the U.S. over the past three decades, more than three-quarters of the 143 guns used to harm and kill innocent bystanders were obtained legally. 

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Explore 50 Wilderness Areas Across America

Smithsonian Magazine

The Wilderness Act at 50: Celebrating Wild Places Across America

The United States is home to more than 300 million people, with over 80 percent of the population living in urban areas. From the Pacific to the Atlantic, 2.65 million miles of paved roads crisscross through deserts, mountains, grasslands and forests, connecting concrete metropolises and centers of industry across the continent. As the photographer Ansel Adams said 44 years ago, "In truth, 'Wilderness' is a state of mind and heart. Very little exists now in actuality." Yet, 50 years ago efforts were made to preserve these last remaining wild places.

The Wilderness Act, signed September 3, 1964, set aside nine million acres of American land. Today, there are 110 million acres across 44 states. These areas encompass crystal-clear alpine lakes, deep sweltering valleys, vast grasslands and ancient forests and are home to a vast cast of endangered and threatened species, including manatees, polar bears, woodland caribou and gray wolves.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, we have selected 50 wilderness areas from across the United States, from the western coast of Alaska to the southern tip of Florida. In selecting these areas to highlight, we chose to represent each of the 44 states which have designated wilderness areas within their boundaries. With the remaining six spots, we sought to find wilderness areas with an especially compelling story (though all wilderness, in its own way, is extremely compelling), whether that be the largest, the oldest, the newest or the cleanest. The end result is a list of 50 wilderness areas across the United States that, we hope, represent the vast and beautiful diversity of this country's natural world.

These are areas carved by massive glaciers and unyielding elements, examples of what Earth can achieve when left to its own devices. But for all their acres of unpaved wilderness, these areas have hardly escaped humanity's tightening grasp: before the 1960s, many wilderness areas were inhabited, farmed, logged, mined or transformed in various ways. Today, as America's urban landscape has expanded, the buffer-zones clearly delineating wilderness have shrunk, and more than half of the designated wilderness areas in the country are located less than a day's drive from the 30 largest cities. This proximity provides wonderful opportunities for more than 12 million people to enjoy some of our country's best nature each year, but makes it all the more imperative that visitors adhere to the areas' strict Leave No Trace policies to mitigate stress on natural resources.

Elsewhere, pollution and global warming—foes that don't need roads to travel—threaten delicate ecosystems. Warming temperatures and changing human migration patterns are also introducing invasive species to wilderness areas. In a piece for National Geographic, journalist Elizabeth Kolbert argues that in the face of climate change, designating areas as wilderness has become increasingly important. "Designating land as wilderness represents an act of humility," she writes. "It acknowledges that the world still transcends our comprehension, and its value, the use we can make of it." Yet, fifty years later, the bipartisan spirit that helped shepherd the Wilderness Act of 1964 from preservationist ideal to law of the land has all but vanished. In the last eight years, Congress has sent only two wilderness areas to President Obama for approval—30 more languish in Congress, waiting for protection that might never come.

But as much as wilderness represents a future—one where natural areas are allowed to escape the direct grip of human interference—it also represents a past, a national tradition of environmental stewardship forged by visionary and practical preservationists like John Muir, Aldo Leopold and Howard Zahniser. In exploring the amazing diversity of wilderness that America has to offer, perhaps you will also come away with a great appreciation for our country's wild places—and a renewed desire to assure their protection for perpetuity.

Big Ben to Fall Silent During Four-Year Renovation Project

Smithsonian Magazine

Since it first rang out in 1859, Big Ben has become one of London’s most iconic landmarks, faithfully marking every hour and quarter hour with resounding bongs and tinkling chimes. But a four-year conservation project will soon cause the historic clock tower to fall silent, as Tara John reports for TIME.

Big Ben—a name that technically refers to the bell inside the tower, but is often used to describe the entire structure—will sound for the last time at noon on August 21. It is scheduled to resume its signature peals in 2021.

The hiatus was prompted by upcoming renovations on Elizabeth Tower, which houses both Big Ben and the Great Clock that adorns the façade of the structure. According to a statement from the UK Parliament, Big Ben was paused to “ensure the safety of those working in the Tower.”

“As Keeper of the Great Clock I have the great honor of ensuring this beautiful piece of Victorian engineering is in top condition on a daily basis,” says Steve Jaggs, the Parliamentary clock keeper. “This essential programme of works will safeguard the clock on a long term basis, as well as protecting and preserving its home – the Elizabeth Tower.”

The painstaking renovation work will involve dismantling and restoring each cog of the Great Clock, piece-by-piece. The clock will be covered while the process is ongoing, but one of its faces will remain visible to the public at all times. Adam Watrobski, principle architect of the project, tells the BBC that the renovation plan also includes improvements to Ayrton Light, which tops the tower and shines when parliament is sitting, along the installation of an elevator, kitchen and bathroom in Elizabeth Tower.

While four years marks the longest pause in Big Ben's history, this is not the first time that the 13.7-metric ton bell has gone silent. Just two months after Big Ben first sounded in 1859, it was cracked by its heavy striker and taken out of commission for three years. Big Ben's last major repairs took place between 1983 and 1985.

Intermissions aside, Big Ben emerged as a symbol of resilience—particularly after WWII. As Peter Macdonald writes in Big Ben: The Bell, the Clock, and the Tower, “Even during the Blitz, when the House of Commons was totally destroyed and the clock tower sustained superficial damage Big Ben kept going and sent out a daily message of hope and defiance around the world.”

Brits who are not thrilled about Big Ben’s impending silence may find some comfort in the fact that the bell will periodically make its presence known over the next four years. According to the parliament’s statement, “specialist clock makers” are working to ensure that the bell sounds on important occasions, like Remembrance Sunday and New Year’s Eve.

Radar Scans Reveal Traces of 19th-Century Fort Beneath Alcatraz

Smithsonian Magazine

Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay has a long history as a military and federal prison. But before the Rock became the Rock, the site was home to Fort Alcatraz, a military installation commissioned to protect the then-burgeoning city of San Francisco. That fort, and most signs of it, are long gone. But as Katie Dowd at reports, archaeologists recently located hidden structures below the concrete prison that show a glimpse of what was.

Because of its historical importance—Alcatraz Island is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and administered by the National Park Service—archaeologists couldn’t just dig up the mostly cement prison yard to see what was under it. Instead, researchers used non-invasive ground-penetrating radar and laser scans to locate to see if they could find anything still lying beneath. Afterward, they compared their results to old maps, historical documents and photographs to help them interpret their data. All together, they believe they’ve located an ammunition magazine, a “bombproof” earthwork traverse as well as brick and masonry tunnels. The finds are revealed in the journal Near Surface Geophysics.

“This really changes the picture of things,” lead author Timothy de Smet, an archaeologist at Binghamton University, tells Katherine J. Wu at Nova. “These remains are so well preserved, and so close to the surface. They weren’t erased from the island—they’re right beneath your feet.”

There’s a reason the fort at Alcatraz didn’t last. Adam Brinklow at Curbed San Francisco reports that construction of a brick and masonry fort on the island began in 1853, but even before it was completed, powerful new artillery made that style of construction obsolete. In 1870, the military began a project to upgrade the island to sturdier earthwork fortifications, but that plan was not completed. Instead, during the Civil War and late 1800s, the military began using Alcatraz as a prison and quarantine zone for soldiers with tropical diseases. Its reputation as a prison fort grew from there, and in 1907, the U.S. officially designated it a military prison. The military went about constructing the massive concrete cellblock it’s become known for—the world’s largest reinforced concrete building at the time of its completion in 1912—burying the remains of the old fort and earthworks beneath.

Maintaining the island prison was a costly endeavor, not to mention Alcatraz’s harsh conditions were bad PR. In 1933, the military transferred the prison to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons where for the next 30 years it served as a segregation unit for the most difficult prisoners housed in federal custody. That’s the era that made the Rock legendary in popular culture. Due to the expenses of running it, it closed its doors for good in 1963.

The new archaeological research shines a light on the long-lost history of the island before Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly and the “Birdman” Robert Stroud made it infamous. “This really reinforces what several historians and archaeologists had long suspected,” co-author and Alcatraz historian John Martini tells Wu. “Up until this point, we had nothing to go on except for a few visible trace remains and maps—and a lot of suspicion.”

In the article, the researchers suggest this type of non-invasive research can help archaeologists investigate other sensitive places, too, so as they put it they can “figuratively rather than literally dig up an otherwise inaccessible but fascinating past.”

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