HistoryofScience.com Blog

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

First Phone Book Gets a Lot of Pre-Sale Publicity


Two works in the forthcoming auction of the library of our former client, Richard Green, are getting a lot of pre-sale publicity. The first, a superb copy of Copernicus' De Revolutionibus (1543), is hardly a surprise, as it is one of the greatest and most famous books ever published. The second is more unusual and could not be more different. It is the only surviving copy of the world's first telephone book, published in New Haven, Connecticut in 1878. When this was on the market during the 1970's interest in it was relatively slight as might seem appropriate for a work that is decidely ephemeral. Presumably current interest reflects the growing impact of electronic media--including cell phones-- in our lives.
The auction will be held at Christie's, New York on June 17 .

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posted by Jeremy Norman @ 7:19 AM   1 Comments

Monday, June 9, 2008

Additions to the From Gutenberg to the Internet Timeline, with comments

Encyclopaedia Brittanica, first published in 3 volumes in 1771, announces in its blog [June 2008] that it will include wiki-style collaboration from users in it's online edition. At Britannica, “readers and users will also be invited into an online community where they can work and publish at Britannica’s site under their own names.” The core encyclopedia itself “will continue to be edited according to the most rigorous standards and will bear the imprimatur ‘Britannica Checked’ to distinguish it from material on the site for which Britannica editors are not responsible.”

[This I find significant as Brittanica, founded in 1771, is probably the oldest encyclopedia still published. It is also notable that Brittanica waited nearly eight years after the foundation of the Wikipedia (founded in January 2001) before including online collaboration.]

The American military supercomputer called the Roadrunner, designed and built by scientists at I.B.M. and Los Alamos National Laboratories from components originally designed for video game machines, has processed more than 1.026 quadrillion calculations per second.
"To put the performance of the machine in perspective, Thomas P. D’Agostino, the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, said that if all six billion people on earth used hand calculators and performed calculations 24 hours a day and seven days a week, it would take them 46 years to do what the Roadrunner can in one day."

[For further perspective on this development in supercomputing let's think back 63 years to the first electronic computer, the ENIAC, which became operational in 1945. The ENIAC which contained 18,000 vacuum tubes as switches, and which was programmed by plugging in cables, was 10,000 times the speed of a human doing unassisted calculation, but significantly slower than the cheapest electronic calculator available today. Nevertheless in the few years of its operational life, the ENIAC performed more calculations than all of mankind had performed in recorded history up to the time of its invention.]

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posted by Jeremy Norman @ 9:19 PM   0 Comments

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Pauling-Goudsmit Correspondence Donated to Oregon State University Libraries

We were pleased to learn that Cliff Mead, Head of Special Collections at Oregon State University Libraries, acknowledged our donation of correspondence between Linus Pauling and Samuel Goudsmit in his PaulingBlog on June 3, 2008.

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posted by Jeremy Norman @ 3:14 PM   0 Comments


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