Ex Libris Universum

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

April Photos of the Month

People have been fascinated by alchemy since ancient times. Little did they know, however, their dreams to convert the lead into gold would one day result in breakthrough cures and unprecedented imaging capabilities for physicians.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Collection Development in an Unusual Year

I don’t think there’s much left to write about 2020 that hasn’t already been written. We can all agree that it was a challenging year. We spent the months of March - July with almost no access to our physical collections. And from July - December we had very limited access. But we didn’t let that stop us from growing our collections in exciting new ways. This blog is hopefully the first in a series that will shine a spotlight on some of the library’s newest acquisitions. 

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

A Deep Dive into an NBLA Acquisition

The Niels Bohr Library & Archives has recently acquired a rather unusual book of poetry and photographs written by missionary and physicist Laura Dickinson. Despite its unassuming cover, this book, entitled Optimism and Other Poems, has some unique touches, including an inscription by the author to a “Cousin Carrie,” as well as, still tucked within its pages, a bookmark belonging to an early owner. Cousin Carrie was likely Dickinson’s second cousin, Carrie Gaylord, who worked at Spelman College as a Matron and then Hostess. Inside the book are 40 short poems, as well as 6 photographs also taken by Dickinson.

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

March Photos of the Month

Last month, humanity got a small break from the humdrum reality of lockdown life on Earth to celebrate otherworldly scientific achievement:

The Perseverance rover successfully landed on the Jezero Crater of Mars on February 18, 2021. Events like these always boggle my mind with their sheer human scientific ingenuity - cool enough on its own - but I also enjoyed this chance to contemplate the existence of astrobiology, a.k.a. one of my favorite science fiction tropes ever: aliens! The Perseverance’s mission is to “seek signs of ancient life and collect samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and soil) for possible return to Earth.” Besides the aliens (!), equally sci-fi worthy goals of the mission include technological demonstration of the rover’s equipment for future missions to Mars, as well as geological exploration of the planet. As the Perseverance explores the terrain, the mission’s team will assign names to the geological features it encounters in Navajo, in cooperation with the Navajo Nation. 

The Perseverance’s hunt for traces of long-extinct Martian microorganisms inspired me to think about the history of our search for extraterrestrial life (SETI) and the history of our attempts to contact this life. Although we do not anticipate reciprocal communication on this mission, I would consider the search for evidence of life to be a kind of contact in itself. On a somewhat silly note, March seems an auspicious month to think about Mars and SETI, as the month of March in French is “mars,'' and World Contact Day is celebrated on March 15th. On a more serious note, I wondered what threads of the scientifically grounded story of our search for life and contact might be lurking in our photo collections. Let’s take a look. 

Thursday, 25 March 2021

The Emilio Segrè Visual Archives presents favorite images as backgrounds!

Who is ready for a new batch of Zoom backgrounds?! We know you’ve been waiting for the third installment of our Zoom background offerings...

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Reviewing Book & Movie Pairs for Women's History Month


Because of the pandemic my free time has definitely shifted to indoor activities, which has given me a great excuse to catch up on my reading lists and watch lists. Now, for the most part these lists are fairly separate. I am always cautious of any movie or TV series which is based on a book. The two genres each have their own merits, but when it comes down to it, I’m usually Team Book. I’ve just been betrayed too often. (Ella Enchanted anyone?)

Friday, 26 February 2021

February Photos of the Month

If I could pick a different era to live in as someone of my current age, I would choose the 1960s.

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

With great pleasure, we welcome Dr. Jacqueline Mitton to Ex Libris Universum to talk about her new book on Vera Rubin, co-written with Dr. Simon Mitton. Vera Rubin: A Life, published February 11, 2021, is the first ever biography on the astronomer, who is regarded as one of the most influential of her era for her monumental contributions to dark matter research and her advocacy efforts for women in the sciences. 

What drew you to write about Vera Rubin?

Thursday, 11 February 2021

An Update from Your Friends at the Emilio Segrè Visual Archives

Some very big, very exciting changes are coming to the Emilio Segrè Visual Archives! 

ESVA is moving to a new site and adopting an open access approach to digital image sharing. Once we have transitioned to the new site, we will no longer charge for our high-resolution digital images or for usage fees. In addition to this, we hope to offer our users an improved photo research experience. We are excited to implement these changes and adapt with the best practices of our industry.

Thursday, 28 January 2021

This year, the 18th of January marked what would have been Japanese-American theoretical physicist Yoichiro Nambu’s 100th birthday!