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August 30, 2013

Discovered: Oldest Globe (1504) Depicting the New World — Made From Ostrich Eggs

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From the Washington Post: "The 'ostrich egg globe' was apparently made in 1504. It shows a scattering of islands in North America's position; 12 years after Columbus's first voyage, the area was largely unknown. The view above shows Asia."

Below are Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.

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"Below, the globe pictured among other ostrich eggs. It is about the size of a grapefruit. The globe is actually the connected bottom halves of two eggs, which compensates for the oval shape of the eggs."

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Below, the globe's depiction of the Western Hemisphere. The large land mass is South America, better known at the time from the voyages of the earliest European explorers than was North America. On the globe, the New World bears three labels: "TERRA DE BRAZIL," "MVNDVS NOVVS," and "TERRA SANCTAE CRVCIS."

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Excerpts from Meeri Kim's August 19, 2013 Washington Post story follow.


Oldest Globe to Depict The New World May Have Been Discovered

An Austrian collector has found what may be the oldest globe, dated 1504, to depict the New World, engraved with immaculate detail on two conjoined halves of ostrich eggs.

The globe, about the size of a grapefruit, is labeled in Latin and includes what were considered exotic territories such as Japan, Brazil and Arabia. North America is depicted as a group of scattered islands. The globe's lone sentence, above the coast of Southeast Asia, is "Hic Sunt Dracones."

"'Here be dragons,' a very interesting sentence," said Thomas Sander, editor of the Portolan, the journal of the Washington Map Society. The journal published a comprehensive analysis of the globe Monday by collector Stefaan Missinne. "In early maps, you would see images of sea monsters; it was a way to say there's bad stuff out there."

The only other map or globe on which this specific phrase appears is what can arguably be called the egg's twin: the copper Hunt-Lenox Globe, dated around 1510 and housed by the Rare Book Division of the New York Public Library. Before the egg, the copper globe had been the oldest one known to show the New World. The two contain remarkable similarities.

After comparing the two globes, Missinne concluded that the Hunt-Lenox Globe is a cast of the engraved ostrich egg. Many minute details, such as the lines and contours of the egg’s territories, oceans and script, match those on the well-studied Hunt-Lenox Globe.

The egg's shape is slightly irregular, while the copper globe is a perfect sphere. Also, the markings around the equator of the egg, where the two halves are joined, appear quite muddled.

Missinne argues that the egg has shrunk and warped over time, and he confirmed a loss in shell density by using computed tomography. He also says the two halves were cast separately, then joined later with a type of glue that obscured the engravings around the equator.

The egg, whose owner remains anonymous, was purchased in 2012 at the London Map Fair from a dealer who said it had been part of an important European collection for decades, according to Missinne. From there, Missinne, a real estate project developer originally from Belgium, consulted more than 100 scholars and experts in his year-long analysis of the globe.

"He's put about five years of research into one year," said Sander, who called Missinne's journey "an incredible detective story."

Missinne, 53, developed his passion for collecting exotic and rare objects 20 years ago, when he bought his first antique map — an 18th-century copper engraving of northern Germany — without knowing its origins and went on an investigation to find out more about it.

"From prints and maps, you come to globes, and from globes, you come to other artifacts including art-chamber objects like this ostrich-egg globe," he said.

Missinne speculates that the egg could have loose connections to the workshop of Leonardo da Vinci, based on the etching of an Indian Ocean ship similar to one by an artist well-acquainted with Leonardo.

The egg has no name engraved on it, so the maker remains unknown. But Sander thinks that someone from da Vinci’s time consolidated knowledge from travelers of the era and made the globe for an Italian noble family.

"In that time period, the ostrich was quite the animal, and it was a big thing for the noble people to have ostriches in their back gardens," Sander said.

The globe passed from family to family, and after World War II, like many other precious artifacts, it was sold during times of economic crises, Sander and Missinne said.

Other scholars who have heard about the egg said they find Missinne's work impressive but want him to provide more details.

Washington Map Society board member Jeffrey Katz said as long as the scholarly aspect is there, it doesn't matter whether the author of the study is also the owner of the globe.

"If he's the owner, more power to him; if he isn't the owner, same thing," Katz said.

August 30, 2013 at 08:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Powered Nail Clipper — A boon to those with limited dexterity


Why the heck not?

Those manual ones went out in the first quarter of the 21st century.

Why are you plodding along like Barney Rubble when you could be up to speed? 

Like 500rpm?

From The Red Ferret :


While keeping your nails trim and tidy on a day-to-day basis may not be a major concern for most of us, they do need a cut every now and again.

However, nail clippers do require some level of precision and the older you get, the less dexterity you have.

If you face this problem and want to escape the risk of cutting yourself, there are other options out there to choose from.

This battery-powered device will cut back nails without requiring much work on your end.

It's very easy to hold and shaped like an inch-thick mobile phone.

In essence, this is a fancy Dremel with an alloy bit with beveled 500rpm rotating blades that requires only that you make contact with your nails' edges to trim them.

Pushbutton control enables intermittent use or locked position for ongoing function.


From the website selling it:


Easy-to-Use Powered Nail Clipper

1/2"-long x 1/16"-wide alloy bit spins at 500rpm, enabling its precisely beveled blades to safely and gently trim nails as you nudge your fingernail against the — all without the need to squeeze your fingers, bend your wrist, or risk cutting the cuticle.

Fitting comfortably into the hand with an ergonomic grip, the trimmer's easy pushbutton control allows for brief trims with each press or constant trimming when the button is pushed forward into its locked position.

Head removes for easy cleaning with the included brush.

3-3/4"L x 2-1/4"W x 1"D.

Weighs 3 oz.


zoom Zoom ZOOM!

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$39.95 (requires 2 AA batteries — not included).

August 30, 2013 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

What is it?




Answer here this time tomorrow.

Hint: what's required to create it is significantly larger than a bread box.

Another: made in the U.S.A.

August 30, 2013 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Portable Bicycle Turn Signal


From The Red Ferret:



If you ever get the chance to trap a cyclist in the corner of the room at a party and ask her what she really really envies about car drivers, she'll um and ah for a while, then eventually reveal it's turn indicators.


Because — much more than shiny fenders and rain wipers — turn indicators are really cool and really blinky.


And they can save your life when you're trying to cross a busy street.


The Safe Turn Portable Bicycle Signal is, as the name implies, the perfect solution to the dilemma of how to mimic a car's most excellent safety feature.

Just strap one or two onto your wrist(s) and when you raise your arm to indicate a turn, the tilt switch will automatically start the bright LEDs blinking — just like the real thing.

The device contains three ultra-bright LEDs and keeps blinking as long as you keep your arm raised.


Think outside the bike space: night-time running types like myself might well find these invaluable as well.

$9.95 — cheap at many times the price if it prevents an life-threatening accident.

August 30, 2013 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Catme 13/Glass Effect 54 — Pushups on Google Glass (video)

In which I attempt a personal best of 18 in one session, only to collapse during #15.

I've been getting all sorts of helpful advice since I started showing these pushup efforts from time to time here: several readers have emailed or commented that I should never go to collapse but rather should stop short and try doing more and shorter series of reps.

I dunno: my basic philosophy is to push everything to the limit, till it breaks, just to see what happens.

That's kind of my wheelhouse psychologically so I think I'll stay with that approach.

August 30, 2013 at 04:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Anya Hindmarch Bespoke Clutch


















[via New York Times T Magazine]

August 30, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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