Thursday, August 15, 2013

Roll Call

I've updated the blog roll and added some goodies:
The Recipe Project has great posts and links on early modern recipes and "food, science, magic, and medicine."
Generation to Reproduction is the go-to site for info and research from the multi-disciplinary History of Reproduction group at the University of Cambridge, like the piece on the Middle English gynecological text, "The Sekeness of Wymmen."
Queens in the Middle Ages has syllabi, bibliographies, and reviews of everything having to do with queenship and female rulership in the medieval period. 
The Renaissance Mathematicus answers many of your questions about early modern science, and Contagions gives you the lowdown on the history of infectious diseases, like the plague.
The New York Academy of Medicine site has articles from scholars about their research, like this recent piece about one scholar's ongoing work with a particular manuscript.
And, finally, Peter Adamson will tell you everything you need to know about the history of western philosophy, including medieval philosophy in the Christian, Islamic, and Jewish traditions.

Additionally, here's a great translation of a 15th century Arabic text on body oils, in case the summer heat has left your skin a bit parched.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Alpha and Omega of Human Artifice

H/t to MB, one of Medieval Robots' LA correspondents, for drawing my attention to this mind-blowing ad for the Omega Co-Axial Chronometer. For those of you not completely au courant with horological developments in recent decades, Omega introduced the Co-Axial escapement in 1999, when it was the first new significant development in mechanical watch movement technology in centuries.* 

Visually similar to the opening credit sequence to "Game of Thrones," the ad also hits some important and longstanding themes from the intersection of art and technology, especially horological timekeeping. The opening VO neatly encapsulates the possibility of human art perfecting (or perhaps surpassing) nature. The visuals, which meld natural and technological "movements" of different kinds, recall Martin Kemp's observation about the permeable boundaries, in Gothic and Renaissance art, between art and nature. And the final image of the mechanical orrery makes it clear that timekeeping--even in a wristwatch--is a way of mimicking the perfect movements of the heavens. 

*The escapement is the mechanism that allows for the stored potential energy (in the case of a mechanical wristwatch, this energy is usually generated from winding a spring) to be released in regular increments.