Hear the Last Time the Jimi Hendrix Experience Ever Played Together: The Riotous Denver Pop Festival of 1969

You know it’s got to be bad when you quit the Jimi Hen­drix Expe­ri­ence just months after the rev­o­lu­tion­ary, expan­sive Elec­tric Lady­land hit num­ber one on US and UK charts, but if you’re Noel Red­ding, you’re plen­ty fed up with the psy­che­del­ic cir­cus. “The record­ing ses­sions were ridicu­lous,” Red­ding told Rolling Stone in a 1969 inter­view, “and on stage, it was get­ting ridicu­lous.” The last straw for Red­ding had come a few months ear­li­er at the Den­ver Pop Fes­ti­val in June. After tear gas forced the band off­stage, fired by police at an unruly crowd, “I went up to Jimi that night,” says the bassist, “said good­bye, and caught the next plane back to Lon­don.”

Ten­sions had been build­ing for months. Hen­drix want­ed to expand the band, with­out con­sult­ing Red­ding or Mitch Mitchell. Record­ing ses­sions for the dou­ble Elec­tric Lady­land had been noto­ri­ous­ly riotous. “There were tons of peo­ple in the stu­dio,” Red­ding remem­bered, “you couldn’t move. It was a par­ty, not a ses­sion.” Hen­drix’s per­fec­tion­ism had him push­ing for 40–50 takes per song. But the prob­lems weren’t all under his con­trol. The three-day Den­ver festival—headlined by Three Dog Night, Cree­dence Clear­wa­ter Revival, Joe Cock­er, Frank Zap­pa, Tim Buck­ley, John­ny Win­ter and the Experience—was beset with vio­lence, part of the gen­er­al devo­lu­tion of the decade.

Overzeal­ous cops bat­tled gate­crash­ers who showed up look­ing for a fight. Tear gas waft­ed through the air. Iron But­ter­fly sup­pos­ed­ly encour­aged fans to bring a fence down. Fes­ti­val pro­mot­er Bar­ry Fey remem­bers Joe Cock­er curled up in the bath­room in a fetal posi­tion: “He was scared to death. ‘Is this what America’s all about?’”

But Jimi’s drug use had also tak­en its toll on his rela­tion­ships. Fey’s account of his state that night is sad and sober­ing:

There’s a lot of sto­ries, but the worst one is Hen­drix…. I had Jimi Sep­tem­ber 1, 1968 at Red Rocks. We had become such good friends in a year or so. I mean, I just loved him. He was such a great guy. And then nine months lat­er at the Den­ver Pop Fes­ti­val, I get to talk to Noel and Mitch, and they said, ‘We’re not going to play with him any­more, Bar­ry.’ I said, ‘What are you talk­ing about?’ They said, ‘We can’t stand him. Since you’ve seen us last, he’s dis­cov­ered hero­in, and you can’t deal with him.’ And then he showed up, and he hard­ly knew who I was. 

But onstage, Jimi was Jimi, crack­ing eso­teric jokes and shred­ding with aban­don. In the audio at the top, hear the band’s full Den­ver Pop Fes­ti­val set, which closed out the chaot­ic pro­ceed­ings on Sun­day night. Hen­drix jokes about the tear gas as the band tunes up, then they launch into Swedish duo Hans­son & Karls­son’s “Tax Free.”

Jimi plays “The Star-Span­gled Banner”—two months before his blis­ter­ing Wood­stock rendition—and the audio cuts out at the end of “Pur­ple Haze,” right before the last song of the night, “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” when the police fired off more tear gas and “the wind whipped in the sta­di­um,” writes Ulti­mate Clas­sic Rock, and “blew the tox­ic fumes back toward the stage. With their eyes burn­ing and their lungs choked for air, the Expe­ri­ence set down their instru­ments for the final time and fled for cov­er.”

See the setlist, minus “Voodoo Child,” below:

  1. Tax Free
  2. Hear My Train A Comin’
  3. Fire
  4. Span­ish Cas­tle Mag­ic
  5. Red House
  6. Foxy Lady
  7. Star Span­gled Ban­ner
  8. Pur­ple Haze

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch the Ear­li­est Known Footage of the Jimi Hen­drix Expe­ri­ence (Feb­ru­ary, 1967)

See a Full Jimi Hen­drix Expe­ri­ence Con­cert on Restored Footage Thought Lost for 35 Years

Jimi Hendrix’s Final Inter­view on Sep­tem­ber 11, 1970: Lis­ten to the Com­plete Audio

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Fol­low him @jdmagness.

The Brains of Jazz and Classical Musicians Work Differently, New Research Shows

All of the musi­cians I’ve played with have been impro­vis­ers, whether they came from jazz, rock, folk, or what­ev­er. As a loose impro­vi­sor myself, I’ve found it dif­fi­cult to col­lab­o­rate with trained clas­si­cal play­ers. It’s not for lack of try­ing, but—while we like to think of music as a uni­ver­sal language—the means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion were strained at best. Clas­si­cal musi­cians have a hard time with spon­ta­neous com­po­si­tion; jazz play­ers are gen­er­al­ly com­fort­able with loose tech­nique and can adapt to exper­i­ments and unex­pect­ed shifts.

I’d always chalked this dif­fer­ence up to dif­fer­ent kinds of train­ing (or lack there­of in my case), but a new study by researchers in Leipzig sug­gests a deep­er neu­ro­log­i­cal basis, at least when it comes strict­ly to jazz ver­sus clas­si­cal musi­cians. Researchers at the Max Planck Insti­tute for Human Cog­ni­tive and Brain Sci­ences stud­ied the brains of thir­ty pianists—half jazz play­ers, half clas­si­cal. They found, the Insti­tute reports, that “dif­fer­ent process­es occur in jazz and clas­si­cal pianists’ brains, even when per­form­ing the same piece.”

It’s a con­clu­sion play­ers them­selves intu­itive­ly under­stand. As jazz pianist Kei­th Jar­rett once said, when asked if he would ever play both jazz and clas­si­cal in con­cert, “No… it’s [because of] the cir­cuit­ry. Your sys­tem demands dif­fer­ent cir­cuit­ry for either of those two things.” This isn’t due to hard-wired bio­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences, but to the way the brain cre­ates path­ways over time in response to dif­fer­ent musi­cal activ­i­ties. As neu­ro­sci­en­tist Daniela Samm­ler puts it:

The rea­son could be due to the dif­fer­ent demands these two styles pose on the musicians—be it to skill­ful­ly inter­pret a clas­si­cal piece or to cre­ative­ly impro­vise jazz. There­by, dif­fer­ent pro­ce­dures may have estab­lished in their brains while play­ing the piano which makes switch­ing between the styles more dif­fi­cult.

On its face, the study may hard­ly seem illu­mi­nat­ing. We have long known that repeat­ed actions change the struc­ture of the brain, so why should it be dif­fer­ent for musi­cians? Things get a lit­tle more inter­est­ing as we dig into the details. One find­ing, study author Robert Bian­co notes, shows that jazz pianists “replan… actions faster than clas­si­cal pianists” and were “bet­ter able to react and con­tin­ue their per­for­mance” when asked to play a har­mon­i­cal­ly unex­pect­ed chord with­in a stan­dard pro­gres­sion (see graph below).

On the oth­er hand, Sci­ence Dai­ly reports, clas­si­cal pianists’ brains showed, “a stronger aware­ness of fin­ger­ing, and con­se­quent­ly they made few­er errors while imi­tat­ing the chord sequence.” The crit­i­cal dis­tinc­tion between the two relates to how they plan move­ments, with clas­si­cal pianists focus­ing on the “How” of tech­nique and jazz play­ers on the “What” of adap­ta­tion to the unex­pect­ed.

Oth­er stud­ies sub­stan­ti­ate the find­ings. Researchers at Wes­leyan Uni­ver­si­ty focused on the role of what they call “expectan­cy” in three groups: jazz impro­vis­ers, “non-impro­vis­ing musi­cians,” and non-musi­cians. Jazz play­ers trained to impro­vise not only pre­ferred unex­pect­ed chords in a pro­gres­sion, but their brains react­ed and recov­ered more quick­ly to the unex­pect­ed, sug­gest­ing a high­er degree of cre­ative poten­tial than both clas­si­cal­ly trained musi­cians and non-musi­cians.

“The impro­visato­ry and exper­i­men­tal nature of jazz train­ing,” the study’s authors write, “can encour­age musi­cians to take notes and chords that are out of place, and use them as a piv­ot to tran­si­tion to new tonal and musi­cal ideas.” How­ev­er, the com­par­i­son between the two groups does not place val­ue on one over the oth­er.

While jazz impro­vi­sa­tion may bet­ter teach cre­ativ­i­ty, clas­si­cal train­ing, as neu­ro­sci­en­tist Ardon Shorr argues in his TEDx talk above, may bet­ter train the brain in infor­ma­tion pro­cess­ing. These stud­ies show that the effect of music on the brain can­not be stud­ied with­out regard for the dif­fer­ing neu­ro­log­i­cal demands of dif­fer­ent kinds of music, just as the study of lan­guage pro­cess­ing can­not be lim­it­ed to just one lan­guage.

Such stud­ies can also give us an even greater appre­ci­a­tion for the rare musi­cian who can eas­i­ly switch between jazz and clas­si­cal in the same per­for­mance, like the late, great Nina Simone. See her work a Bach-influ­enced fugue into “Love Me or Leave Me,” at the top.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Music in the Brain: Sci­en­tists Final­ly Reveal the Parts of Our Brain That Are Ded­i­cat­ed to Music

New Research Shows How Music Lessons Dur­ing Child­hood Ben­e­fit the Brain for a Life­time

The Neu­ro­science of Bass: New Study Explains Why Bass Instru­ments Are Fun­da­men­tal to Music

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

How Ancient Scrolls, Charred by the Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, Are Now Being Read by Particle Accelerators, 3D Modeling & Artificial Intelligence

Every­one knows that Mount Vesu­vius erupt­ed in 79 AD, entomb­ing the Roman town of Pom­peii in ash. Almost every­one knows that it also did the same to sev­er­al oth­er towns, includ­ing wealthy Her­cu­la­neum on the Bay of Naples. Count­less schol­ars have ded­i­cat­ed their lives to study­ing these unusu­al­ly well-pre­served first-cen­tu­ry ruins and the his­tor­i­cal trea­sures found with­in. We now under­stand a great deal about the lay­out, the struc­tures, the social life of Her­cu­la­neum, but some aspects remain unknow­able, such as the con­tents of the scrolls, charred beyond recog­ni­tion, that fill its libraries — or at least that remained unknow­able until now.

“In the 18th cen­tu­ry, work­men employed by King Charles III of Spain, then in charge of much of south­ern Italy, dis­cov­ered the remains of a mag­nif­i­cent vil­la, thought to have belonged to Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caeson­i­nus (known as Piso), a wealthy states­man and the father-in-law of Julius Cae­sar,” writes Smith­son­ian’s Jo Marchant. There, “in what was to become one of the most frus­trat­ing archae­o­log­i­cal dis­cov­er­ies ever, the work­men also found approx­i­mate­ly 2,000 papyrus scrolls.” But since the heat and gas­es of Vesu­vius had turned them “black and hard like lumps of coal”  — and indeed, some of Charles III’s work­men mis­took them for coal and threw them away — attempts to open them “cre­at­ed a mess of frag­ile flakes that yield­ed only brief snip­pets of text.”

The time of Charles III bare­ly had suf­fi­cient know-how to avoid destroy­ing the scrolls of Her­cu­la­neum, let alone to read them. That task turns out to demand even the most cut­ting-edge tech­nol­o­gy we have today, includ­ing cus­tom-made 3D mod­el­ing soft­ware, arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, and the most advanced x‑ray facil­i­ties in exis­tence. Marchan­t’s arti­cle focus­es on an Amer­i­can com­put­er sci­en­tist named Brent Seales (Pro­fes­sor and Chair of Com­put­er Sci­ence at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ken­tucky), whose quest to read the Her­cu­la­neum scrolls has become a quest to devel­op a method to vir­tu­al­ly “unroll” them. This requires not just the com­put­ing pow­er and log­ic to deter­mine how these black­ened lumps (Seales calls two of them “Fat Bas­tard” and “Banana Boy”) might orig­i­nal­ly have opened up, but the most advanced par­ti­cle accel­er­a­tors in the world to scan them in the first place.

You can read more about Seales’ work with the Her­cu­la­neum scrolls, which after twen­ty years has shown real promise, at Men­tal Floss and Newsweek. Though quite expen­sive (demand for “beam time” on a par­ti­cle accel­er­a­tor being what it is), huge­ly time-con­sum­ing, and occa­sion­al­ly, in Seales’ words, “excru­ci­at­ing­ly frus­trat­ing,” the inven­tion of a reli­able method for read­ing these and oth­er seem­ing­ly lost texts from antiq­ui­ty could make sub­stan­tial addi­tions to what we think of as the canon. (The texts revealed so far have had to do with the ideas of Epi­cu­rus, a primer on whose phi­los­o­phy we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured on Open Cul­ture.) But gain­ing the fullest pos­si­ble under­stand­ing of what our ances­tors knew in the first cen­tu­ry may first require a few more 21st-cen­tu­ry devel­op­ments in physics and com­put­er sci­ence yet.

via Men­tal Floss

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hid­den Ancient Greek Med­ical Text Read for the First Time in a Thou­sand Years — with a Par­ti­cle Accel­er­a­tor

Watch the Destruc­tion of Pom­peii by Mount Vesu­vius, Re-Cre­at­ed with Com­put­er Ani­ma­tion (79 AD)

See the Expan­sive Ruins of Pom­peii Like You’ve Nev­er Seen Them Before: Through the Eyes of a Drone

2,000-Year-Old Man­u­script of the Ten Com­mand­ments Gets Dig­i­tized: See/Download “Nash Papyrus” in High Res­o­lu­tion

Google Puts The Dead Sea Scrolls Online (in Super High Res­o­lu­tion)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

A Brief History of Guitar Distortion: From Early Experiments to Happy Accidents to Classic Effects Pedals

The sound of rock and roll is the sound of a dis­tort­ed gui­tar, but the his­to­ry of that sound pre­dates the genre by a few years. It start­ed out with blues and West­ern swing gui­tarists, search­ing “for a dirt­i­er sound,” writes Noisey in a brief his­to­ry, “a sound that reflect­ed the grit­ti­ness of their music.” That sound was pio­neered by a gui­tarist named Junior Barnard, who played with Bob Wills and his Texas Play­boys and designed his own hum­buck­ing pick­ups to pro­duce a fat­ter, loud­er tone and push his small amp into over­drive. As the Poly­phon­ic video above notes, Barnard was an aggres­sive play­er who need­ed aggres­sive tones, and so, as gui­tarists have always done, he invent­ed the means him­self.

Oth­er fore­run­ners achieved dis­tort­ed tones by crank­ing ear­ly amps like the 18-watt Fend­er Super, first intro­duced in 1947, all the way up, until the vac­u­um tubes clipped the sig­nal to keep from break­ing. Goree Carter, some­times cred­it­ed with record­ing the first rock and roll song, “Rock A While,” pushed the over­driv­en sound in a heav­ier direc­tion than Barnard, play­ing dirty Chuck Berry-like licks in 1949 before Chuck Berry’s first hit. Dis­tor­tion, a sound audio engi­neers strug­gled might­i­ly to avoid in live sound and record­ing, gave blues-based gui­tarists exact­ly what they need­ed for the loud, lewd post­war sounds of rock.

The dis­tort­ed tones of the 40s came from a delib­er­ate desire for grit. Lat­er, even dirt­i­er, gui­tar tones were the result of hap­py acci­dents. Anoth­er con­tender for the first rock and roll recording—Ike Turn­er & His Kings of Rhythm’s 1951 “Rock­et 88”—con­tains some very dis­tort­ed rhythms from gui­tarist Willie Kizart, who, leg­end has it, dropped his tweed Fend­er amp before the ses­sion. Sam Phillips “leaned into” the sound, notes Poly­phon­ic, imme­di­ate­ly hear­ing its serendip­i­tous poten­tial.

Sev­en years lat­er, the evil over­drive of Link Wray’s instru­men­tal “Rum­ble”—so sin­is­ter it was once banned from radio—came from an inten­tion­al equip­ment fail­ure. Wray repeat­ed­ly stabbed the speak­er cone of his amp with a pen­cil.

Do-it-your­self dis­tor­tion con­tin­ued into the six­ties. Fol­low­ing Wray’s lead, the Kinks’ Dave Davies slashed his amp’s speak­er with a razor blade for the fuzzed-out attack of “You Real­ly Got Me” in 1965. But a few years ear­li­er, “fuzz” had already been cod­i­fied in an effects ped­al: Gibson’s 1962 Mae­stro FZ‑1 Fuzz-Tone, part­ly inspired by anoth­er acci­dent, a faulty mix­ing board con­nec­tion that dis­tort­ed Grady Martin’s bass solo in the Mar­ty Rob­bins’ 1961 coun­try tune “Don’t Wor­ry” (below, at 1:25). The Fuzz-Tone most famous­ly drove Kei­th Richards’ riff in “Sat­is­fac­tion,” but it did­n’t sell well. Oth­er, more pop­u­lar fuzz box­es fol­lowed, like the Arbiter Fuzz Face, Jimi Hendrix’s choice for his dis­tort­ed tones.

Hen­drix bril­liant­ly inno­vat­ed new gui­tar effects, and the pow­er­ful Mar­shall amps he played through also drove the dis­tort­ed sounds of Clap­ton, Town­shend, Page, Black­more, etc., who com­pet­ed for grit­ti­er and heav­ier tones and in the process more or less invent­ed met­al gui­tar. In the sev­en­ties and eight­ies, dis­tort­ed tones took on some stan­dard­ized forms, thanks to tran­sis­tors and clas­sic effects ped­als like the Ibanez Tube Scream­er, Pro­Co Rat, and Boss DS‑1. Dis­tinc­tions between over­drive, dis­tor­tion, and fuzz effects can get tech­ni­cal, but in the ear­ly days of rock and roll, dis­tort­ed gui­tar tones came from what­ev­er worked, and it’s that wild ear­ly sound of gear pushed to its lim­its and beyond that every mod­ern dis­tor­tion effect attempts to repli­cate.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear the Only Instru­men­tal Ever Banned from the Radio: Link Wray’s Seduc­tive, Raunchy Song, “Rum­ble” (1958)

Two Gui­tar Effects That Rev­o­lu­tion­ized Rock: The Inven­tion of the Wah-Wah & Fuzz Ped­als

How a Record­ing Stu­dio Mishap Cre­at­ed the Famous Drum Sound That Defined 80s Music & Beyond

Hear the Only Instru­men­tal Ever Banned from the Radio: Link Wray’s Seduc­tive, Raunchy Song, “Rum­ble” (1958)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

A Book about Women in Philosophy by Women in Philosophy: Help Crowdfund It

This past sum­mer, we high­light­ed the Ency­clo­pe­dia of Con­cise Con­cepts by Women Philoso­phers, a resource that aims to intro­duce “women philoso­phers who most­ly have been omit­ted from the philo­soph­i­cal canon despite their his­tor­i­cal and philo­soph­i­cal influ­ence.” Now, in a sim­i­lar vein, comes a book being edit­ed by Rebec­ca Bux­ton (Oxford) and Lisa Whit­ing (Durham). The Philoso­pher Queens is essen­tial­ly “a book about women in phi­los­o­phy by women in phi­los­o­phy.” On this crowd­fund­ing page, Bux­ton and Whit­ing elab­o­rate:

For all the young women and girls sit­ting in phi­los­o­phy class won­der­ing where the women are, this is the book for you. This col­lec­tion of 21 chap­ters, each on a promi­nent woman in phi­los­o­phy, looks at the impact that women have had on the field through­out his­to­ry. From Hypa­tia to Angela Davis, The Philoso­pher Queens will be a guide to these badass women and how their amaz­ing ideas have changed the world.

This book is writ­ten both for new­com­ers to phi­los­o­phy, as well as all those pro­fes­sors who know that they could still learn a thing or two. This book is also for those many peo­ple who have told us that there are no great women philoso­phers. Please pledge, read this book and then feel free to get back to us.

The two of us are young women who have stud­ied and loved phi­los­o­phy for many years. This book is borne out of frus­tra­tion with the total lack of recog­ni­tion for women in phi­los­o­phy, not only its his­to­ry but its cur­rent teach­ing.

Each chap­ter is writ­ten by a woman work­ing in phi­los­o­phy today. Our chap­ters and con­tribut­ing authors include:

Hypa­tia by Lisa Whit­ing
Lallesh­wari by Shali­ni Sin­ha
Anne Con­way by Julia Bocherd­ing
Mary Astell by Simone Webb
Mary Woll­stonecraft by San­drine Bergès
Har­ri­et Tay­lor Mill by Helen McCabe
Chris­tine Ladd-Franklin by Sara Uck­el­man
Mary Anne Evans by Clare Carlisle
Edith Stein by Jae Het­ter­ley
Han­nah Arendt by Rebec­ca Bux­ton
Simone de Beau­voir by Kate Kirk­patrick
Iris Mur­doch by Fay Niker
Eliz­a­beth Anscombe by Han­nah Carn­e­gy-Arbuth­nott
Mary Warnock by Gulzaar Barn
Iris Mar­i­on Young by Desiree Lim
Ani­ta L Allen by Ilhan Dahir
Azizah Y. al-Hib­ri by Nima Dahir
… and more excit­ing chap­ters yet to be announced.

You can learn more about the project and give it some finan­cial sup­port here. The project so far has 184 back­ers and has received 27% of its desired fund­ing.

via Dai­ly Nous

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Ency­clo­pe­dia of Women Philoso­phers: A New Web Site Presents the Con­tri­bu­tions of Women Philoso­phers, from Ancient to Mod­ern

The Con­tri­bu­tions of Women Philoso­phers Recov­ered by the New Project Vox Web­site

An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion to the Fem­i­nist Phi­los­o­phy of Simone de Beau­voir

The Map of Phi­los­o­phy: See All of the Dis­ci­plines, Areas & Sub­di­vi­sions of Phi­los­o­phy Mapped in a Com­pre­hen­sive Video

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Long-Lost Letter Shows How Galileo Tried to Fool the Inquisition & Escape Censure for Putting Scientific Truth Ahead of Church Dogma (1613)

“Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” wrote Emi­ly Dick­in­son, “Suc­cess in Cir­cuit lies.” No doubt she had more lit­er­ary, or meta­phys­i­cal, mat­ters in mind than sci­en­tif­ic. But for sci­en­tists work­ing in times hos­tile to change, telling the truth, as they know it, can be dan­ger­ous. This applies to EPA sci­en­tists work­ing today as it did 400 years ago to Euro­pean astronomers, who faced censure—with pos­si­bly fatal consequences—for con­tra­dict­ing the offi­cial ver­sion of real­i­ty dic­tat­ed by the Catholic Church and enforced by the Inqui­si­tion.

The sto­ry of Galileo Galilei’s infa­mous con­fronta­tion with what the Rice Uni­ver­si­ty Galileo Project calls that “per­ma­nent insti­tu­tion” of the Church, “charged with the erad­i­ca­tion of here­sies,” has swelled into leg­end, with the astronomer play­ing the part of a mar­tyr for rea­son and evi­dence. Oth­er ver­sions, like Bertolt Brecht’s play Galileopor­tray him, writes The New York­er’s Adam Gop­nik, not as “a mar­tyr-hero but a turn­coat, albeit one of genius.” Rather than stand­ing on prin­ci­ple, he hedged and com­pro­mised.

A “new­er (and, unsur­pris­ing­ly, Church-endorsed) view,” writes Gop­nik, “is that Galileo made need­less trou­ble for him­self by being impolitic,” and that all the poor Church want­ed, “as today’s intel­li­gent design­ers now say,” was to “’teach the con­tro­ver­sy’” between Coper­ni­can and Aris­totelian the­o­ries. What­ev­er their inter­pre­ta­tion, his­to­ri­ans of the events lead­ing up to Galileo’s con­vic­tion for heresy after the pub­li­ca­tion of his Dia­logue Con­cern­ing the Two Chief World Sys­tems now have a new piece of evi­dence to add to their assess­ment.

A let­ter, “long thought lost,” Nature reports, has reap­peared, pro­vid­ing “the strongest evi­dence yet that, at the start of his bat­tle with the reli­gious author­i­ties, Galileo active­ly engaged in dam­age con­trol and tried to spread a toned-down ver­sion of his claims.” In the sev­en-page doc­u­ment, writ­ten to his friend Benedet­to Castel­li in 1613, Galileo “set out for the first time his argu­ments that sci­en­tif­ic research should be free from the­o­log­i­cal doc­trine.” Fur­ther­more, and most damn­ing­ly for him:

He argued that the scant ref­er­ences in the Bible to astro­nom­i­cal events should not be tak­en lit­er­al­ly, because scribes had sim­pli­fied these descrip­tions so that they could be under­stood by com­mon peo­ple. Reli­gious author­i­ties who argued oth­er­wise, he wrote, didn’t have the com­pe­tence to judge. Most cru­cial­ly, he rea­soned that the helio­cen­tric mod­el of Earth orbit­ing the Sun, pro­posed by Pol­ish astronomer Nico­laus Coper­ni­cus 70 years ear­li­er, is not actu­al­ly incom­pat­i­ble with the Bible.

Copies of the con­tro­ver­sial let­ter cir­cu­lat­ed, and inevitably made their way into the hands of Inqui­si­tion author­i­ties in 1615, for­ward­ed by a Domini­can fri­ar named Nic­colò Lori­ni. Alarmed, Galileo “wrote to his friend Piero Dini, a cler­ic in Rome, sug­gest­ing that the let­ter Lori­ni had sent to the Inqui­si­tion might have been doc­tored.” He enclosed anoth­er, less inflam­ma­to­ry, ver­sion, which he claimed was the orig­i­nal. He wrote of the “wicked­ness and igno­rance” of those he claimed had tried to frame him. The Inquisi­tors, he wrote “may be in part deceived by this fraud which is going around under the cloak of zeal and char­i­ty.”

His­to­ri­ans have long known of the two let­ters, but were uncer­tain as to whose ver­sion of events to believe. The orig­i­nal of the Lori­ni copy was thought to have been lost, until its recent dis­cov­ery by post­doc­tor­al sci­ence his­to­ri­an Sal­va­tore Ric­cia­r­do, who found it, of all places, in the Roy­al Soci­ety library, where it had sat unno­ticed for 250 years. The orig­i­nal let­ter, which Castel­li had returned to Galileo, shows edits in his own hand. “Beneath its scratch­ings-out and amend­ments, the signed copy dis­cov­ered by Ric­cia­r­do shows Galileo’s orig­i­nal wording—and it is the same as in the Lori­ni copy” that land­ed him in trou­ble.

The evi­dence proves that Galileo strong­ly advo­cat­ed for the Coper­ni­can sys­tem, and against Church inter­fer­ence in free inquiry, in 1613. In one pas­sage of the let­ter, orig­i­nal­ly describ­ing the Bible as “false if one goes by the lit­er­al mean­ing of the words,” Galileo cross­es out “false” and inserts “look dif­fer­ent from the truth.” In anoth­er ref­er­ence to scrip­ture as “con­ceal­ing” the truth, he opts for the more the­o­log­i­cal-sound­ing “veil­ing.” The let­ter shows Galileo soft­en­ing his views to escape con­dem­na­tion, but it does not show him recant­i­ng in any way.

In 1616, the year after the Church received a copy of the first let­ter from Lori­ni and Galileo’s doc­tored ver­sion, he was warned to stop argu­ing for the Coper­ni­can mod­el, though he lat­er received assur­ances from Pope Urban VIII that he could con­tin­ue to write about helio­cen­trism if he pre­sent­ed the idea as a math­e­mat­i­cal propo­si­tion rather than a state­ment of fact. Of course, as we know, his con­tin­ued sup­port for the sci­ence earned him per­ma­nent house arrest in 1633, and cen­turies of endur­ing admi­ra­tion from the oppo­nents of dog­mat­ic sup­pres­sion of sci­en­tif­ic knowl­edge.

via Nature

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How a Book Thief Forged a Rare Edi­tion of Galileo’s Sci­en­tif­ic Work, and Almost Pulled it Off

An Ani­mat­ed His­to­ry of Physics Intro­duces the Dis­cov­er­ies of Galileo, New­ton, Maxwell & Ein­stein

See Galileo’s Famous Grav­i­ty Exper­i­ment Per­formed in the World’s Largest Vac­u­um Cham­ber, and on the Moon

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

In 1900, a Photographer Had to Create an Enormous 1,400-Pound Camera to Take a Picture of an Entire Train

Cam­eras are small, and get­ting small­er all the time. This devel­op­ment has helped us all doc­u­ment our lives, shar­ing the sights we see with an ease dif­fi­cult to imag­ine even twen­ty years ago. 120 years ago, pho­tog­ra­phy faced an entire­ly dif­fer­ent set of chal­lenges, but then as now, much of the moti­va­tion to meet them came from com­mer­cial inter­ests. Take the case of Chica­go pho­tog­ra­ph­er George R. Lawrence and his client the Chica­go & Alton Rail­way, who want­ed to pro­mote their brand-new Chica­go-to-St. Louis express ser­vice, the Alton Lim­it­ed. This prod­uct of the gold­en age of Amer­i­can train trav­el demand­ed some respectable pho­tog­ra­phy, a tech­nol­o­gy then still in its thrilling, pos­si­bil­i­ty-filled emer­gence.

A tru­ly ele­gant piece of work, the Alton Lim­it­ed would, dur­ing its 72-year lifes­pan, boast such fea­tures as a post office, a library, a Japan­ese tea-room, and a strik­ing maroon-and-gold col­or scheme that earned it the nick­name “the Red Train.”

Even from a dis­tance, the Alton Lim­it­ed looked upon its intro­duc­tion in 1899 like noth­ing else on the rail­roads, with its six iden­ti­cal Pull­man cars all designed in per­fect sym­me­try — the very aspect that so chal­lenged Lawrence to cap­ture it in a pho­to­graph. Sim­ply put, the whole train would­n’t fit in one pic­ture. While he could have shot each car sep­a­rate­ly and then stitched them togeth­er into one big print, he reject­ed that tech­nique for its inabil­i­ty to “pre­serve the absolute truth­ful­ness of per­spec­tive.”

Only a much big­ger cam­era, Lawrence knew, could cap­ture the whole train. And so, in the words of Atlas Obscu­ra’s Ani­ka Burgess, he “quick­ly went to work design­ing a cam­era that could hold a glass plate mea­sur­ing 8 feet by 4 1/2 feet. It was con­struct­ed by the cam­era man­u­fac­tur­er J.A. Ander­son from nat­ur­al cher­ry wood, with bespoke Carl Zeiss lens­es (also the largest ever made). The cam­era alone weighed 900 pounds. With the plate hold­er, it reached 1,400 pounds. Accord­ing to an August 1901 arti­cle in the Brook­lyn Dai­ly Eagle, the bel­lows was big enough to hold six men, and the whole cam­era took a total of 15 work­ers to oper­ate.” Trans­port­ing the cam­era to Brighton Park, “an ide­al van­tage point from which to shoot the wait­ing train,” required anoth­er team of men, and devel­op­ing the eight-foot long pho­to took ten gal­lons of chem­i­cals.

The adver­tise­ments in which Lawrence’s pho­to­graph appeared prac­ti­cal­ly glowed with pride in the Alton Lim­it­ed, billing it as “a train for two cities,” as “the only way between Chica­go and St. Louis,” as “the hand­somest train in the world.” The whole-train pic­ture beg­gared belief: though it went on to win Lawrence the Grand Prize for World Pho­to­graph­ic Excel­lence at the 1900 Paris Expo­si­tion, Burgess notes, it looked so impos­si­ble that both the pho­tog­ra­ph­er and Chica­go & Alton “had to sub­mit affi­davits to ver­i­fy that the pho­to­graph had been made on one plate.” We in the 21st cen­tu­ry, of course, have no rea­son to doubt its authen­tic­i­ty, or even to mar­vel at its inge­nu­ity until we know the sto­ry of the immense cus­tom cam­era with which Lawrence shot it. Today, what awes us are all those small­er shots of the Alton Lim­it­ed’s inte­ri­or, exud­ing a lux­u­ri­ous­ness that has long van­ished from Amer­i­ca’s rail­roads. If we were to find our­selves on such a train today, we’d sure­ly start Insta­gram­ming it right away.

via Atlas Obscu­ra

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Behold a Beau­ti­ful Archive of 10,000 Vin­tage Cam­eras at Col­lec­tion Appareils

19-Year-Old Stu­dent Uses Ear­ly Spy Cam­era to Take Can­did Street Pho­tos (Cir­ca 1895)

See the First Pho­to­graph of a Human Being: A Pho­to Tak­en by Louis Daguerre (1838)

The His­to­ry of Pho­tog­ra­phy in Five Ani­mat­ed Min­utes: From Cam­era Obscu­ra to Cam­era Phone

Darren’s Big DIY Cam­era

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Watch Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests of Three Female Muses: Nico, Edie Sedgwick & Mary Woronov

Artist Andy Warhol shot over 500 silent, black-and-white screen-tests in his famous Fac­to­ry between 1964 and 1966, doc­u­ment­ing the beau­ti­ful youth who were drawn to the scene. Some­times he would chat with the sub­ject before­hand, offer­ing sug­ges­tions to help them achieve the type of per­for­mance he was look­ing for. More fre­quent­ly he took a pas­sive role, to the point of leav­ing the room dur­ing the film­ing.

The oppo­site of a peo­ple per­son, he pre­ferred to engage with his sub­jects by scru­ti­niz­ing the fin­ished screen tests, pro­ject­ing them in slow motion to imbue them with an added ele­ment of glam­our and ampli­fy every nuance of expres­sion. As Warhol wrote in The Phi­los­o­phy of Andy Warhol:

That screen mag­net­ism is some­thing secret. If you could fig­ure out what it is and how you make it, you’d have a real­ly good prod­uct to sell. But you can’t even tell if some­one has it until you actu­al­ly see them up there on the screen. You have to give screen tests to find out.

The screen tests are less audi­tions for roles in Warhol films than pieces of an ongo­ing project. Warhol played with them, assem­bling and reassem­bling them into col­lec­tions which he screened under such flu­id titles as 13 Most Beau­ti­ful Women and 13 Most Want­ed Men. Some of his test sub­jects went on to achieve real star­domLou Reed, Den­nis Hop­per, and Bob Dylan

Oth­ers’ fame is for­ev­er tied to the Fac­to­ry.

Edie Sedg­wick, above, one of his best known mus­es, was a trou­bled girl from a wealthy fam­i­ly. Unlike some of the mood­i­er screen tests, Sedgwick’s is ful­ly lit. She dis­plays a gen­uine movie star’s poise, bare­ly mov­ing as the cam­era drinks her in. Her beau­ty appears untouched by the addic­tions and eat­ing dis­or­ders that were already a dri­ving force in her life.

Actress and painter Mary Woronov emerged unscathed from her time at the Fac­to­ry. Like Sedg­wick, she seemed com­fort­able with the idea of being observed doing noth­ing for an extend­ed peri­od. Recall­ing her screen test expe­ri­ence in an inter­view with Bizarre, she made it clear that the sub­jects were far from the cen­ter of atten­tion:

Andy put you on a stool, then puts the cam­era in front of you. There are lots of peo­ple around usu­al­ly. And then he turns the cam­era on, and he walks away, and all the peo­ple walk away too, but you’re stand­ing there in front of this cam­era.

I saw Sal­vador Dali do one, it was real­ly fun­ny. It’s a very inter­est­ing film, because it’s a way of crack­ing open your per­son­al­i­ty and show­ing what’s underneath—only in a visu­al way, because there’s no talk­ing, noth­ing. You just look at the cam­era. Sal­vador made this gigan­tic pose with his mous­tache blar­ing and every­thing, and he could­n’t hold the pose. Not for five min­utes. And so at about minute four, he sud­den­ly start­ed look­ing very, very real.

The cam­era loves still­ness, some­thing mod­el and singer Nico was unable to deliv­er in her screen test. Per­haps not such a prob­lem when the direc­tor has plans to project in slow motion.

As he stat­ed in POP­ism: The Warhol ’60s:

What I liked was chunks of time all togeth­er, every real moment… I only want­ed to find great peo­ple and let them be them­selves… and I’d film them for a cer­tain length of time and that would be the movie.

Fac­to­ry regular/interior decorator/photographer Bil­ly Name told punk his­to­ri­an Legs McNeil in an inter­view that the screen tests served anoth­er pur­poseto iden­ti­fy the fel­low trav­el­ers from among the poor fits:

… it’s always cool to meet oth­er artists, you know, to see if it’s some­body who’s going to be a peer or a com­pa­tri­ot, who you can play with and hang around with or not. Andy was doing a series of screen tests for his films, and we want­ed every­body to do one: Dylan, Nico, Den­nis Hop­per, Susan Son­tag, Donovan—everyone famous that came up to the Fac­to­ry. We’d just film 16mm black-and-white por­traits of the per­son sit­ting there for a few min­utes. So our pur­pose was to have Dylan come up and do a screen test, so he could be part of the series. That was enough for us. But Dylan did­n’t talk at all when we filmed him. I don’t think he liked us, ha, ha, ha!

Revolver Gallery, devot­ed exclu­sive­ly to Warhol, has a gallery of screen-tests on their YouTube chan­nel.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Vel­vet Under­ground & Andy Warhol Stage Pro­to-Punk Per­for­mance Art: Dis­cov­er the Explod­ing Plas­tic Inevitable (1966)

Andy Warhol’s 15 Min­utes: Dis­cov­er the Post­mod­ern MTV Vari­ety Show That Made Warhol a Star in the Tele­vi­sion Age (1985–87)

The Big Ideas Behind Andy Warhol’s Art, and How They Can Help Us Build a Bet­ter World

Andy Warhol’s ‘Screen Test’ of Bob Dylan: A Clas­sic Meet­ing of Egos

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Mon­day, Sep­tem­ber 24 for anoth­er month­ly install­ment of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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