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POTM: The letter S
POTM: The letter S
May Photos of the Month
NBL&A is having so much fun with our rare book ABCs series; we’re expanding our alphabet-based collection exploration to the Emilio Segrè Visual Archives. I've decided to kick off May's Photos of the Month by highlighting terms that begin with the letter S, quoted to be “the best letter of the alphabet” by your unbiased author, Sarah.
The Apollo spacecraft wouldn’t have reached the moon without the lifting power provided by the Saturn V rocket. Standing at 363 feet tall and weighing over 3,000 tons, the Saturn V remains to this day, the largest rocket ever to launch. In the photograph above, director of the Marshall Space Flight Center, Wernher Von Braun shows 34th U.S. president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, an early Saturn model. This photo is dated 1960 yet the Saturn V wouldn’t launch its first uncrewed test flight (Apollo 4) until November 9, 1967. You can view video footage surrounding that launch here.
In the late 18th century before the height of photography, silhouettes were popular forms of portraiture in the U.S. because of their affordability, accuracy, and ability to be produced quickly. Named after the French author, politician, and reported "cost-cutter," Étienne de Silhouette (1709-1767), silhouettes are commonly created by cutting away paper to reveal the profile of the sitter.
The silhouette above depicts astronomer Seth Carlo Chandler, Jr. (1846-1913). Known for his research on polar motion, Chandler received the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (the society’s highest award) in 1896. The portrait was created by self-proclaimed “champion silhouette cutter of the world,” D. Dudley, a Boston-based artist who advertised the ability to cut pictures in half a minute.
Now ubiquitous with the information age, semiconductors are essential components of electronic technology, thanks to their environment-based properties (they can vary between conductors and insulators). In the photograph above, physicist Izuo Hayashi holds a semiconductor laser designed at Bell Laboratories. This kind of semiconductor laser was one of the first to operate continuously at room temperature. The work behind this feat awarded Hayashi and physical chemist Morton B. Parish the 2001 Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology.
Betty Schultz was Niels Bohr’s longtime secretary. Our archives holds three oral history interviews with Schultz, the first of which was conducted on May 17th, 1963 by Aage Petersen and Paul Forman. While the interview heavily focuses on asking Schultz about prominent physicists, there are some occasions where Schultz details her personal experiences, like the time she was initially hired to work for Bohr.
Hired to start work on January 2nd, 1920, Schultz entered the Polytechnische Lehranstalt only to be received by a completely empty university. A week later she tried again, still no one. Schultz decided to go to Bohr’s home (where she initially interviewed) to get some answers. An unnamed woman at Bohr’s house explained, “Oh, yes I know that Professor Bohr had engaged a secretary, but now he had gone to Norway, and he has thrown your address away.” Presumably, Shultz provided her address again, as she received a letter from Bohr after his return from Norway to officially start work. Schultz charitably described the hiring as, “curious.”
Credit line: Laskar Photo, Sandia National Laboratories, courtesy AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Physics Today Collection. Solar Energy F1.
There are many ways sunlight can be converted into solar energy, though I am partial to any method that involves abstract photography and Blues Brothers glasses. Sandia National Laboratories (shown above) was one of the first sites to use concentrator photovoltaic technology to generate solar power. This type of solar technology uses lenses (right side of photo) to concentrate sunlight onto solar cells (left side of photo). The specific type lenses used in this photo are called Fresnel lenses, which are also employed in lighthouses for their ability to redirect and magnify light in one unified direction.