A Visual History of Science, from the Pages of Scientific American [Slide Show]
This month, we turn 165 years old! To celebrate, we document the march of progress as seen through the magazine, from 1845 to today
Herschel Crater on Mimas, 2010
Scientific American readers go on a journey of the imagination with an artist, based on the latest scientific research, to "Eight Wonders of the Solar System". Here, on the surface of Mimas, one of Saturn's moons, lies Herschel Crater. The massive 139-kilometer-wide crater has walls measuring 5,000 meters high and a peak in the center standing 6,000 meters above the crater floor.
Mapping the Brain, 2010
The July/August 2010 edition of Scientific American MIND brings scientist’s ability to map the brain up to date. These two functional magnetic resonance images show the few differences, but much overlap, in the regions of the brain involved in recalling past events and imaging future ones.
Mapping the Brain, 1948 Over 100 years after the previous image, an article on locating brain function recounts the various means through which scientists have unraveled the great knot of neural networks in attempts to pinpoint brain areas devoted to specific functions. A stereotaxic apparatus is used to insert the probes that record electrical activity deep within the brain cortex.
Mapping the Brain, 1845 In an early attempt at brain mapping, this etching of a symbolic head and phrenological chart aims to explain the functions designated to the different "organs" of the brain. The pictures represent specific attributes. For example, section 7, located above the ear, depicts a tiger killing a lamb, symbolizing destructiveness.
Computer Networks: A Precursor to E-Mail, 1991 The Internet was still a fanciful concept in 1991 to most people, but to computer engineers the increasing computer applications required an innovative way to send large chunks of information, or packets, between computers on a network. This method attached codes (shown as different colors) to each packet. The codes identify the source and destination of the information and enables data to flow without both parties having to be on the Internet at the same time.
Can the Cheetah Survive? 1986
This striking image was featured on the cover of Scientific American , accompanied by an article voicing concern that the cheetah was becoming endangered. Whereas the cheetah evolved for maximum aerodynamics, its genetic uniformity made the species extremely vulnerable to changes in climate and environment. Despite the efforts of conservationists, the cheetah is still in peril.
Einstein Proving the Principle of Equivalence, 1935 Albert Einstein stands in front of the annual meeting of the American Mathematical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, attempting to address a problem that he had pondered for decades—that of the equivalence of energy and inertial mass in reference to his theory of special relativity.
Streamers of Sparks from a 40-foot-tall Van de Graaff Generator, 1934 Nikola Tesla, the iconoclastic inventor and engineer, famous for his contributions to the field of electromagnetism, wrote the feature article accompanying this cover about the limitations on the much celebrated Van de Graaff generator. In the piece Tesla explains that the Van de Graaff generator, developed in 1929, cannot create energy but that it can separate the charges within an atom to be stored and utilized later. The Van de Graaff generator later became a key component of the early particle accelerators.
A Majestic Mountainside Monument to Four Presidents, 1931 Gutzon Borglum and his crew demonstrate the progress made on the Mount Rushmore monument, with the near completion of George Washington's 60-foot head. All that remained to be completed was the rounding of the nose tip—a task that required careful blasting and pneumatic tools.
Women Flyers, 1929
Famous aviatrix Amelia Earhart stands with actress and noted flight enthusiast Gladys McConnell. The photograph is part of a Scientific American feature on passenger air transport.
Aviation Special Issue, 1911
Fervor for the nascent aviation technology is reflected in this cover of Scientific American's special edition focused on flying innovations. "More than half a million men are now actively engaged in some industrial enterprise that has something to do with navigation of the air."
Marie Sklodowska Curie: The Greatest Woman Scientist, Twice Recipient of the Nobel Prize, 1911 This article celebrates the achievements of Marie Curie, recognizing her important discoveries and contributions to the field of radioactivity as well as the barriers she overcame as a female in the scientific community. In 1903 Curie became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for her work in the physical sciences, and here, eight years later, she won her second Nobel Prize, this time in the field of chemistry.
Thomas A. Edison and His Improved Storage Battery, 1911 Thomas Edison was at the forefront of the search for alternative ways to power vehicles, a search that continues today. On this cover, he is pictured with his highly innovative, nickel–iron storage battery, made primarily for use in motor vehicles.
The World's Columbian Exposition--The Great Ferris Wheel, 1893 The "wonderful 'merry-go-round'" designed by engineer George W. G. Ferris, Jr., debuted at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 in Chicago. The Ferris wheel was the largest attraction, standing 264 feet tall, and was intended to rival the Eiffel Tower, which had been the centerpiece of the 1889 Paris Exposition. The wheel carried some 38,000 passengers daily, took 20 minutes to complete two revolutions, and cost 50 cents a ride.
Statue of Liberty, 1886 The Statue of Liberty was originally designed and constructed in France before being deconstructed and shipped to America in 350 individual pieces packed in 214 crates. Here, the statue is shown being reassembled in New York. As can be seen from the interior view of the face, iron braces were placed on the inside of the statue to protect against distortion.
The Science of the Horse's Motion, 1878
Eadweard Muybridge's sequence of still images taken on an automatic "electro-photographic" apparatus succeeded in capturing the motions of a horse. This cover depicts the horse, Abe Eddington, walking at a 15-minute gait (A-F) and trotting at a 2:24 gait (1-12). Advertisement
Samuel Morse at the Morse Celebration, 1871
An intricate etching honors the invention of the telegraph by Samuel Morse. On this occasion, Scientific American reports, Morse signed his name along with the appendage, "One of the few immortal names/ That are not born to die." The implication of his work did not go unnoticed, for messages could now be sent across vast distances in the blink of an eye.
The War Steamer Merrimac, 1861
This image of the USS Merrimac from 1861 was engraved under the direction of a mechanic who worked on her in the Confederate state of Virginia during the Civil War. Originally built in Massachusetts in 1855, the USS Merrimac was later turned into the first iron-clad ship. In 1862, renamed the CSS Virginia, she fought the USS Monitor in the historic first battle between iron-clad ships.
Flying Machines of the Future, 1860 Inventors have always been looking for ways to enable humans to fly. These sketches supposed to be somewhat fanciful depictions of flying machines, imagining possible modes for sustaining flight.
Hoe's Mammoth Rotary Printing Press, 1851
This press, the largest of its kind when it was built, measured 40 feet in length. Originally constructed to be used by the New York Sun , this press eventually produced issues of . Scientific American Advertisement Advertisement