Subject: ‘Space’

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The best pictures from educational trade cards, 82

Posted in Architecture, Astronomy, Best pictures, Bravery, Castles, Educational card, Famous crimes, Historical articles, History, Revolution, Space on Wednesday, 25 November 2015

We have selected three of the best pictures from our large collection of 19th and early 20th century educational trade cards.
The first picture shows Charlotte Corday, assassin of Jean-Paul Marat.

Charlotte Corday, picture, image, illustration

Charlotte Corday, assassin of French Revolutionary Jacobin leader Jean-Paul Marat

The second picture shows the kitchen of a mediaeval castle.

castle, picture, image, illustration

Kitchen of a medieval castle

The third picture shows Ursa Major.

Ursa Major, picture, image, illustration

Ursa Major

High-resolution scans of all educational cards can be found in the Look and Learn picture library.

The best pictures from educational trade cards, 78

Posted in Ancient History, Architecture, Astronomy, Best pictures, Castles, Discoveries, Educational card, Famous landmarks, Fashion, Heroes and Heroines, Historical articles, History, Legend, Leisure, Music, Religion, Rivers, Royalty, Science, Space on Wednesday, 25 November 2015

We have selected three of the best pictures from our large collection of 19th and early 20th century educational trade cards.
The first picture shows Johannes Kepler and a total eclipse of the Sun.

Keppler, picture, image, illustration

Johannes Kepler and a total eclipse of the Sun

The second picture shows Sciarra Colonna slapping Pope Boniface VIII across the face, 1303.

Colonna, picture, image, illustration

Sciarra Colonna slapping Pope Boniface VIII across the face, 1303

The third picture shows King Arthur’s Round Table.

King Arthur, picture, image, illustration

King Arthur's Round Table

High-resolution scans of all educational cards can be found in the Look and Learn picture library.

Mars, colonised by man, as envisaged in the 1980s

Posted in Historical articles, History, Science, Space, Technology, Travel on Saturday, 21 November 2015

This is an elaborate illustration of a science fiction scenario – the human colonisation of Mars. The picture has many reasonable elements, like the dome-shaped structures, but beneath them appear to be something akin to the pyramids, which is rather amusing and fanciful. Our overall impression is of the pervasive pinkness of the Red Planet.

Mars, picture, image, illustration

Mars, colonised by man, as envisaged in the 1980s

Many more pictures of space can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

Family playing on the moon, as imagined in the 1960s

Posted in Absurd, Children, Geography, Historical articles, History, Science, Space, Sport, Technology, Travel on Saturday, 21 November 2015

This amusing picture shows a family playing on the moon above a valley where sits their lunar base. The extra-terrestrial domestic scene was imagined in the 1960s, when a rather naive optimism began to shine through after the post-war gloom; it was of course a decade which saw man walk on the Moon. But however unlikely this vision of a lunar colony may have appeared, the artist did get one thing right; he painted the Earth as a “blue planet”.

moon, picture, image, illustration

Family playing on the moon, as imagined in the 1960s

Many more pictures of space can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

Men working on Mars, as imagined in the 1970s

Posted in Astronomy, Plants, Science, Space, Technology, Travel on Wednesday, 18 November 2015

This convincing photorealist and futuristic picture shows astronauts working on the Red Planet in a small scientific base. They have carefully organised equipment and credible scientific instruments, but their controversial achievement appears to be successfully cultivating food crops on Mars.

Mars, picture, image, illustration

Men working on the planet Mars, as imagined in the 1970s

Many more pictures of space can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

The best pictures of Soviet cosmonauts

Posted in Aerospace, Aviation, Best pictures, Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, Science, Space, Technology, Travel on Monday, 31 August 2015

The best pictures of Soviet cosmonauts show four famous figures in the history of space exploration.
The first picture is of Yuri Gagarin.

cosmonaut, picture, image, illustration

Yuri Gagarin by Wilf Hardy

The second picture is of Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov who made the first space walk, a 12-minute extra-capsule adventure.

cosmonaut, picture, image, illustration

Alexey Leonov making the first space walk by Wilf Hardy

The third picture is of Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman into space, her husband Andrian Nikolayev, and Vostock 6.

cosmonaut, picture, image, illustration

Valentina Tereshkova was the first female cosmonaut in space and circumnavigated earth in Vostok 6. Also inset is her husband, Andrian Nikolayev, who flew in Vostok 3. Picture by Robert Brook

Many more pictures of space can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

Megalithic monuments had an astronomical purpose

Posted in Archaeology, Astronomy, Famous landmarks, Prehistory, Space on Saturday, 15 February 2014

This edited article about Prehistoric astronomy first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 553 published on 19 August 1972.

Carnac,  picture, image, illustration

Original arrangement of stones at Carnac, Bretagne

It seems that Neolithic Man, who inhabited Europe about 3,500 years ago, was not the simple farming type that the history books would have us believe. Recent scientific research has shown that these people went to extraordinary lengths to solve the complex problem of the Moon’s motion and had an astonishing knowledge of astronomy and geometry.

Surveys carried out on Megalithic monuments in Scotland and France show that what seemed to be just geometrical patterns of stones were in fact observatories that were used for determining the Moon’s motion. From there findings it has been found these people had a far greater understanding of lunar astronomy than any of their descendants were to have for the next 3,000 years!

In the 18th century it was realised that Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, was aligned with the mid-summer sunrise and was perhaps used on this day for religious or mystical rites. More recently one expert has suggested that the way the stones are arranged at this famous monument made it possible to predict eclipses of the Sun, an event which would have had a special and awe-inspiring significance for these early peoples.

To understand just how great the problems of building these observatories were for Neolithic Man it is important to know something of the Moon’s complicated motion through the sky.

To observers in Prehistory the most striking fact would be that the rising and setting points of the Moon change rapidly from night to night. In the Outer Hebrides, where most of the important Megalithic sites are found, it is possible for the Moon to rise and set almost in the north one day, and then two weeks later it barely manages to rise above the southern horizon for more than a few hours. When it does rise, it appears at different heights in the sky and over a period of 18.61 years goes through a full cycle of different positions and setting and rising points.

Only by constant observations over decades and even centuries could these early stone circle builders establish the reference points needed to construct their observatories.

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How Christmas may have changed in the Twenty-first Century

Posted in Christmas, Science, Space, Technology on Tuesday, 21 January 2014

This edited article about Christmas first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 519 published on 25 December 1971.

Santa on Mars, picture, image, illustration

Santa Claus on Mars

For astronauts sitting down to dinner in a space-station orbiting the Earth, it still looks like a traditional Christmas of three decades earlier.

The table and folding chairs may be made of a super-light titanium-aluminium alloy, but the goodies laid out for Christmas dinner are not space-age at all. There is roast turkey with chestnut stuffing, plum pudding, hot mince pie, and trifle.

These men, spending Christmas two hundred miles above the Earth, are lucky – their dinner stays on the table. The huge space station turns slowly like a giant wheel, so that centrifugal force creates a kind of artificial gravity. Otherwise the men, chairs and table, would be floating around in the pressurized cabin like fish in an aquarium, bumping into elusive turkey drumsticks and mince pies. Weightlessness might be amusing, for a while at least, but it would hardly be in the traditional Christmas spirit, and it would be scientifically impossible to pull crackers!

Five other astronauts, however, on a special space mission to the Planet Neptune, will have to stretch their imaginations to the limit to make things seem like Christmas at all. Their Christmas dinner will consist of turkey-flavoured protein powder moistened with distilled water, sucked slowly from polythene bags. Pulling crackers and untying presents will be out, but at least they will be able to play Christmas music from their tape-cassettes, and watch Christmas programmes on their transistorized colour TV.

On Earth, in a flat on the 385th floor of a super-skyscraper in Manchester, the Jones family is entertaining the Green family. The Greens have arrived from California after a journey of just under forty minutes by a hyper-sonic jet airliner, because their friends the Joneses promised to treat them to a traditional English Christmas dinner.

And the meal they are now enjoying is traditional, and perhaps even more English and “Christmassy” than it might have been if they had lived back in 1971, in spite of thirty years progress in science and technology.

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Frogmen salvage sunken treasure and stabilise space capsules

Posted in Historical articles, Sea, Space, Weapons, World War 2 on Thursday, 3 October 2013

This edited article about frogmen originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 417 published on 10 January 1970.

Salvage frogman, picture, image, illustration

A frogman discovering the long-lost wreck of the Girona by Andrew Howat

What is the link between a frog croaking in a village pond and Apollo II landing in the Pacific after its trip to the Moon? The answer is a frogman.

Every time an American space capsule returns to earth, United States Navy frogmen are rushed to the spot by helicopter to fit a buoyancy collar on the capsule, which acts as a lifebelt round its base. This has been standard practice ever since 1961, when an invaluable capsule sank.

It would be claiming too much to say that frogmen owe their existence to the humble frog. Friends of the duck might be among the first to object, because the flippers, which are one of the trademarks of frogmen, were inspired by the webbed feet that so many animals use for swimming. Yet as the frogman swims swiftly underwater in his rubber suit, his legs and long flippers make him look very like a frog with its legs stretched out when swimming or leaping in the air.

The story of the frogman dates from the Second World War. Just before the war, underwater swimming as a sport, using “swim-fins,” was beginning to be popular where the water was warm enough. When war broke out in 1939, methods were considered for attacking enemy shipping in harbours by stealth. The Italian Navy experimented with midget craft of every sort, including “human torpedoes” and successfully damaged two British warships in Alexandria Harbour in 1941. Underwater swimmers were used by the Italians, but it was the British who invented the frogman’s distinctive suit.

They studied Italian successes. Flippers were clearly essential. Men using them can not only swim faster, but also can more easily dive down or shoot up to the surface. To combat bitterly cold water a suit of rubber sheeting was developed and, with new oxygen breathing apparatus the underwater gear was complete. It was given exhaustive tests in a closely guarded swimming bath. One look at the new costume left no-one in any doubt as to what its wearer’s name should be. The frogman was born! An extra bonus was that even very ordinary swimmers became really expert underwater because of the flippers.

Frogmen proved invaluable. They formed underwater demolition teams and destroyed obstacles in invasion areas. The invasion of Europe in 1944 would have been held up without them. They cleared minefields in advance, then cleared captured harbours. This meant that armies and supplies could be rushed to the battle zones. A thousand frogmen were in action before the American invasion of the Japanese-held island of Okinawa in 1945, working for three days in very cold water.

In peacetime, frogmen have added salvage operations to their other roles – and police work as well.

The St Paul’s Girls’ School music master who composed ‘The Planets’

Posted in Education, Famous Composers, Historical articles, History, Music, Space on Tuesday, 1 October 2013

This edited article about music originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 414 published on 20 December 1969.

Gustav Holst, picture, image, illustration

Gustav Holst

In the spring of 1913 Gustav von Holst, the director of music at St. Paul’s Girls’ School in London, went on holiday to the Spanish island of Majorca. There the English-born composer delighted in watching the clear night sky, and noticing how much larger and nearer the stars appeared to be. This heightened his interest in astrology, and on his return to England he became fascinated by the personalities of the various planets.

“As a rule,” he wrote to a friend, “I only study things that suggest music to me. . . . Then recently the character of each planet suggested lots to me, and I have been studying astrology fairly closely . . . everything in this world . . . is just one big miracle. Or rather, the universe itself is one.”

So von Holst, who was of part-Danish descent, began work on his revolutionary orchestral suite, The Planets, which was to become a landmark on the British musical scene. The suite is in seven contrasting movements, beginning with Mars, the Bringer of War, which the composer wrote shortly before the start of the First World War.

During the hostilities, Holst dropped the German-sounding “von” from his name and went to Turkey to organize musical entertainments for the British troops out there. He completed Mercury, the Winged Messenger, in 1917, and so his suite was ready to be performed by a full orchestra.

The Planets was first heard at a private concert given for Holst and his friends in September 1918. The music, with its vitality and brilliant orchestration, made a profound impression on all who heard it. Holst’s own favourite movement was Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age, with its deeply felt sense of the passage of time.

Two years later public performances were given in London and Chicago, and the suite rapidly gained popularity. Even the quiet Venus and mystical Neptune movements were acclaimed by the public and critics alike, and the modest, forty-six-year-old composer was besieged by well-wishers.

Success had not come easily to Gustav Holst, who had started his professional life as a village organist and choirmaster in the Cotswolds, at a salary of £4 a year. After leaving his home town of Cheltenham, he was at one stage forced to make a living as a trombonist in various theatre orchestras.

His appointment to St. Paul’s School – where he had his own soundproof workroom – ended his financial insecurity. And his Planets suite became one of the favourite pieces of music of such famous men as Lawrence of Arabia.