Telescope Quest: Day 8

Marvin Bolt, the Museum’s curator of science and technology, traveled to Europe last fall to research some of the world’s oldest telescopes. Read along to hear about his adventures and discoveries.

A final day at the Louwman Museum provided access to two of its most important items. One is one of the earliest lenses made by famed Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens, inventor of the pendulum clock and maker of very high quality telescopes, and the only one in a private collection.

As did many opticians of his day, Huygens signed his lenses with a diamond-tipped stylus, making it very easy for us to date this lens to 1656.

Careful measurements showed that it was not spherical but had consistent differences from the shape of a sphere.

In his youth, Huygens met René Descartes, who was a friend of his father. Descartes had figured out that a non-spherical lens would improve the telescope, but no one could figure out how to make such a lens. As we investigated the Huygens lens, careful measurements showed that it was not spherical but had consistent differences from the shape of a sphere. This is surprising, and suggests that we will need to examine Huygens lenses in more detail.

 

 

The other object, not previously studied in great detail, has circumstantial evidence linking it to the first decades after the telescope first appeared in 1608.

This telescope is signed “I.B.”, likely Jacques Bourgeois, who published a booklet on telescopes in 1645. As archive scholar Huib Zuidervaart has discovered, Bourgeois signed his booklet with the signature ‘I.B.

marv_day08_ib-lensOur study showed the telescope has a very good objective lens and gives an excellent image. Surprisingly good. It makes us rethink our assumptions about the quality of early lenses, and gives us much to think about as we prepare to look at the world’s oldest lenses in the days ahead.

Discovering the Whitefriars project 2016

In 2014, the Rakow Library received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to develop an innovative methodology for preserving, digitizing, and making accessible our collection of Powell & Sons (Whitefriars) stained glass cartoons. The Whitefriars Collection was gifted to the Rakow Library in 2008 by the Museum of London. The collection consists of 1,800 rolls of cartoons, or working drawings: an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 works on paper. Last year, the Rakow completed the first year of a five-year Discovering the Whitefriars Collection project, conserving and digitizing 15 rolls, for a total of 120 cartoons. Read more →

CMoG Summer Guide

Summer is … walks outside, swimming pools, picnics, warm days, and The Corning Museum of Glass. Yes, The Corning Museum of Glass is a great place to add to your list of summer plans. We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 reasons to visit the Museum this summer:

Photo: Iwan Baan10: Longer days mean there’s more natural daylight flooding the Contemporary Art + Design Galleries. The natural lighting brings out the best in the glass on display. Read more →

Honey, we shrunk the visitors!

One of the interactive elements of CMoG’s exhibition Revealing the Invisible: The History of Glass and the Microscope allows visitors to be microscopic.


One of the interactive elements of CMoG’s exhibition Revealing
the Invisible: The History of Glass and the Microscope allows
visitors to be microscopic.

If you’ve visited the Rakow Research Library recently, you may have seen one of our new exhibitions, Revealing the Invisible: The History of Glass and the Microscope, and experienced the Be Microscopic interactive that “shrinks” visitors down to the size of a cell.

The Museum’s Digital Media team created this immersive interactive experience using a Microsoft Kinect camera for Windows, technology with which many video-gamers may be familiar. The camera captures live video and tracks users’ spatial positions, body movements, and gestures. The project called for a complex combination of interactions, “green-screen” effects, and other display needs, so it required some trial and error to determine the best way to create the program. The team settled on using a software library for Kinect called Vitruvius. This C#-based library provides methods that make it easier to access the camera’s body tracking data, and to use that data to trigger on-screen actions like changing specimen images and taking snapshots of visitors in this microscopic world. Read more →

Blaschka Glass Marine Creatures Exhibition Opens May 14, 2016

Specimen of Blaschka Marine Life: Ulactis muscosa (Nr. 116), Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, Dresden, Germany, 1885. Lent by Cornell University, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. L.17.3.63-54.

This May, The Corning Museum of Glass will present Fragile Legacy: The Marine Invertebrate Glass Models of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, an exhibition featuring nearly 70 exquisitely detailed glass models of marine invertebrates made by the legendary father-and-son team. Created as scientific teaching aids in the late 19th century, the models capture the diversity and splendor of aquatic life more than 100 years ago. Read more →

Revealing the Mysteries of Venetian Glassmaking Techniques through new Online Resource

This morning, The Corning Museum of Glass released its first-ever scholarly electronic resource, The Techniques of Renaissance Venetian Glassworking by artist and scholar, William Gudenrath. A culmination of a lifetime of research, this digital resource details the techniques used to make glass on Murano, Venice’s historic glassmaking island, between about 1500 and 1700, a period known as “the golden age of Venetian glass.” Through 360˚ photography and high-definition video, complete reconstructions of Venetian glassmaking techniques unknown for centuries are now revealed.

Dragon-Stem Goblet, Venice, Italy, 1630-1670. 51.3.118.

Detail of Dragon-Stem Goblet, Venice, Italy, 1630-1670. 51.3.118.

Read more →

The Batchshed Project: Exploring Indigenous Glass

This post comes from Dr. Glen Cook, chief scientist at The Corning Museum of Glass.

Professor Fred Herbst stokes wood into the firebox of one of Corning Community College’s wood-fired kilns. These well-drafted kilns can achieve temperatures in excess of 2200°F.

Professor Fred Herbst stokes wood into the firebox of one of Corning Community College’s wood-fired kilns. These well-drafted kilns can achieve temperatures in excess of 2200°F.

You may be familiar with words that have been created to designate the area from which a specific raw material is derived, such as watershed—the runoff land that feeds into a river system or lake. Other terms recently coined refer to other fundamental resources that are local to an area, like foodshed, and fibershed. I’ve coined the term “Batchshed” to describe the raw glass-making ingredients that come from a specific locale, that come together in the fire of locally harvested wood, to make “indigenous glass.” Read more →