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Pic of the Week: Scientific Treasures

Journals from the Wilbur and Orville Wright Brothers Collection, Library of Congress, June 26, 2012. Photograph by J. Harbster

This week I participated in the Science at Risk: Toward a National Strategy for Preserving Online Science meeting hosted by the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). During this two-day meeting the Library’s recently-retired manuscript specialist Len Bruno took us on a journey through the scientific treasures of the Library’s  Manuscript Division. On display were items such as Jefferson’s plans/instructions for a pasta machine, Morse’s first telegraph message, Jon Von Neumann’s folder and notes on the atomic bomb, and Herman Hollerith’s punch cards and templates.  These collections provoked me to reflect upon the variety of materials produced by scientists and, in turn, what ends up being collected and preserved by institutions. I also contemplated about the types of material that can be collected from current and future scientists- blogs, laptops, mobile devices, virtual notebooks …?

Our picture of the week features one of the collections on display- the original journals from the Wright Brothers.  Although the journals have been digitized and are available in the Wilbur and Orville Wright Brothers Papers , the digital surrogates do not compare to the physical presence of these little books in which the brothers logged their experiments with flying. So I wonder…when we make the first manned flight to Mars, what sort of original  material will we collect and preserve?

The Thrill of Physics

Summer is here (in the northern hemisphere) and that means that many of us will be heading to an amusement park for some good ole’ fashioned fun. I am a traditionalist when it comes to the thrill rides in amusement parks. I prefer the roller coasters that allow me to sit facing forward. Riding backwards […]

Transit of Venus: The Unsung Heroes

The following is a guest post by Dr. Sten Odenwald, NASA/ National Institute of Aerospace, who presented a lecture on the Transit of Venus at the Library of Congress on May 8, 2012. You can view his lecture on our webcast page and Youtube channel. On June 5th, 2012 most people will have the opportunity […]