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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thinking about time and space

A librarian's assistant telling a story to a group of Russian children in their native languageThe Wall Street Journal recently published a fascinating article, Lost in Translation, by Lera Boroditsky. A professor of psychology at Stanford University and editor in chief of Frontiers in Cultural Psychology, her article discusses recent research in how language influences our concepts of space of time.

Some research examines language's influence on its speakers' ability to perform "navigational feats scientists once thought were beyond human capabilities," and links between concepts of space and time.

Also of interest is how learning another language actually changes one's thinking: "If people learn another language, they inadvertently also learn a new way of looking at the world."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

U.S. copyright registry of vessel hull designs

I recently stumbled across the U.S. Copyright Office's Registration of Vessel Hull Designs, and it could be a valuable resource for certain researchers. The Vessel Hull Design Registrations list seems to extend back only about a year, and has a lot of entries that indicate changes to existing designs, so the number of designs in the registry seems very small at this point, but shows a variety of vessel types--inflatable boats, many fishing boats, a racing kayak, sail training craft, even a "pleasure mega yacht." The certificate of registration as well as any accompanying drawings or photographs are available as Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) files, which are often quite large, but very interesting once downloaded and opened. In this respect, the database resembles Google patents, since the accompanying visual materials are available.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Library of the HMS Beagle

H.M.S Beagle in Straits of Magellan from LibraryThing

A while ago I posted about the library catalog of the ship's and crew's libraries, reconstructed on LibraryThing. Another Legacy Library of note is cataloged there as well, that of the HMS Beagle. From the "About my Library" section of the Library Profile Page:

This library is based on the Darwin Project's Books on the Beagle reconstruction of the library aboard the HMS Beagle complied "from the Beagle correspondence, CD’s diary, field notebooks, and the extensive zoological and geological notes."

The "Books on the Beagle" article includes the regulations for the library in eight short points, the second of which instructs the user to create a temporary cover for the book being used. I learned about making these in elementary school for my school textbooks, and still make them occasionally--it's surprising how much protection just a sheet of paper can give. I'm not sure how they make them in Darwin's day, but this is the technique that I learned.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Voyage accounts

Portrait of Eleonora Hunt from Project Gutenberg

The Smithsonian's SIRIS Blog featured excerpts from a newly donated voyage account this past Sunday. The post features Benjamin S. Buckley's diary entries concerning the 4th of July celebrations aboard the Capitol during the voyage from Boston to San Francisco via Cape Horn in 1849. Four pages of the diary are reproduced on the blog, and readers can click through to enlarged versions that will zoom one step further for easy reading.

Last Sunday also saw the release of another voyage account, the complete text of Eleonora Hunt's My Trip Around the World on Project Gutenberg, reproduced from the privately printed edition of 1902. Rather than a diary, this book was prepared later, telling the story of her trip from August 1895 to May 1896, from her home in Chicago, traveling aboard the steamer Empress of Japan, P&O steamers, as well as via other modes through Japan, China, India, Egypt and Europe.