Ming vases…

Even in childhood I was baffled as to why oil paintings sold in auction houses for countless millions, while equally exquisite works of art from other cultures seemed lucky if they fetched thousands. One exception is the ubiquitous ‘Ming vase’… examples of which appear in everything from Tin Tin to baroque palaces across Europe. Another are ancient artefacts, though these again seem to be valued less for their aesthetic qualities than for how close they …

verbal/visual, written, verbal/visual…

The graphic above (courtesy of my friend Keith Brunton) is considered by some to be possibly the best statistical graphic ever drawn. By Charles Joseph Minard (1781 – 1870), a French engineer, it shows the terrible fate of Napoleon’s army in Russia. Quoting from “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information” by Edward R. Tufte: “Described by E. J. Marey as seeming to defy the pen of the historian by its brutal eloquence, this combination of …

little blue planet (take 2)…

The first time we were able to see our planet from space – a single, blue jewel floating in the void – it changed how we saw Earth – how we saw ourselves – profoundly. We have now found other worlds circling other suns – hundreds (?) of them… At first we could only detect massive ones – bigger even than our Jupiter. But we have recently been able to detect planets just a few …

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