Science Photo Library - Historical Oddities

The power and beauty of this collection may be unconventional but it is undoubtedly testimony to humanity’s imagination, curiosity and desire to record and understand nature - all of it from the cosmic to the atomic. Many are unsophisticated illustrations by scientists of the ‘on the back of an envelope/napkin’ variety. With the exception of Leonardo da Vinci, they are not artists but scientists in pursuit of their subject. Some represent the first glimmerings of scientific discoveries, inventions and developments that utterly changed the way we think and live. Others are time’s survivors such as cuneiform texts and the dead-sea scrolls in their worn and battered condition. There are equations, graphs, charts, raw data -some funny, some mad, some childlike - all exquisite as a collection and individually. They date from the 21st century BC with the first scratches on clay to the digital contribution of the 21st century.

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