Take Graphic Design Courses to Launch Your Career as a Graphic Designer, Video Game Designer, UI Designer & More

What can you do with graph­ic design skills? More and more, it seems, as emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies dri­ve new apps, soft­ware, and games. New design chal­lenges are every­where, from human-machine inter­faces, to 3D mod­el­ing in video games and ani­mat­ed films, to re-imag­in­ing clas­sic designs in print and on screen. In addi­tion to tra­di­tion­al jobs like art direc­tor, graph­ic design­er, pro­duc­tion artist, and ani­ma­tor, the past few years have seen a sharp rise in demand for User Expe­ri­ence (UX) and User Inter­face (UI) design­ers, roles that require a vari­ety of dif­fer­ent cre­ative and tech­ni­cal skill sets.

You could get a four-year degree in design to work in one of these fields, or you could take a Cours­era Spe­cial­iza­tion and be one step clos­er. Cours­era has met the demand for new job skills and tech edu­ca­tion by part­ner­ing with top arts insti­tu­tions and uni­ver­si­ties to offer online cours­es at low cost. All of these cours­es grant cer­tifi­cates that show poten­tial employ­ers you’re ready to put your learn­ing to use. If careers in art and con­tem­po­rary design, graph­ic design, web user expe­ri­ence and inter­face design, or video game design appeal to you, you can learn those skills in the five cer­tifi­cate-grant­i­ng Spe­cial­iza­tion pro­grams below.

Graph­ic design­ers can choose to be as spe­cial­ized or gen­er­al­ized as they like, but as in all cre­ative fields, they need a thor­ough under­stand­ing of the basics. A Cours­era Spe­cial­iza­tion is a series of cours­es intend­ed to lead stu­dents to mas­tery, build­ing on the his­to­ry and foun­da­tions of the field. You can enroll for free and try out any of the Spe­cial­iza­tions for 7 days. After that, you’ll be charged between $39-$49 per month until you com­plete the cours­es in a Spe­cial­iza­tion. (Finan­cial aid is avail­able).

The excit­ing Spe­cial­iza­tions from CALARTS and the Muse­um of Mod­ern Art will bring you many steps clos­er to a new career, or maybe even a new per­son­al pas­sion project.

Note: Open Cul­ture has a part­ner­ship with Cours­era. If read­ers enroll in cer­tain Cours­era cours­es and pro­grams, it helps sup­port Open Cul­ture.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Google Unveils a Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing & E‑Commerce Cer­tifi­cate: 7 Cours­es Will Help Pre­pare Stu­dents for an Entry-Lev­el Job in 6 Months       

Google & Cours­era Launch Career Cer­tifi­cates That Pre­pare Stu­dents for Jobs in 6 Months: Data Ana­lyt­ics, Project Man­age­ment and UX Design

Become a Project Man­ag­er With­out a Col­lege Degree with Google’s Project Man­age­ment Cer­tifi­cate

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

How to Get into a Creative “Flow State”: A Short Masterclass

Is “flow state” the new mind­ful­ness? The phrase has gained a lot of cur­ren­cy late­ly. You may have heard it spo­ken of in rar­i­fied terms that sound like you have to be a full-time artist, pro­fes­sion­al ath­lete, or Albert Ein­stein to access it. On the oth­er hand, we have award-win­ning jour­nal­ist, human per­for­mance expert, and Flow Research Col­lec­tive founder Steven Kotler explain­ing in a video that we fea­tured recent­ly how to achieve a flow state on com­mand. So, does flow require a lit­tle or a lot of us? It requires, first and fore­most, a shift in con­scious­ness.

In the field of pos­i­tive psy­chol­o­gy, flow is most asso­ci­at­ed with the­o­rist Mihaly Csik­szent­mi­ha­lyi, whose Cre­ativ­i­ty: Flow the Psy­chol­o­gy of Dis­cov­ery and Inven­tion pro­vid­ed key con­tem­po­rary insights into the idea. For Csik­szent­mi­ha­lyi, direct­ing our activ­i­ty toward mate­r­i­al notions of secu­ri­ty sets us up for dis­ap­point­ment. Flow states are best under­stood as actu­al­ized cre­ativ­i­ty we can man­i­fest in almost any con­di­tions: we can be “hap­py, or mis­er­able, regard­less of what is actu­al­ly hap­pen­ing ‘out­side,’ just by chang­ing the con­tents of con­scious­ness,” he said.

For Taoists, flow means accord­ing with the nature of things as they are, which takes a lot of keep­ing still and let­ting be. Goethe used the phrase “effort­less effort” to describe cre­ative flow. Kotler’s def­i­n­i­tion is a bit more oper­a­tional: Flow, he says in his Mind­val­ley talk above, is an “opti­mal­ized state of con­scious­ness where we feel our best and we per­form our best.” One thing all notions of flow seem to share is a belief in the impor­tance of what Kotler calls “non-time,” or what the Taoist calls “the doing of non-doing,” a plea­sur­able rest­ing state with­out dis­trac­tion. (Kotler takes his “non-time” between 4 and 7:30 in the morn­ing.)

Kotler him­self arrived at the flow state “through an unusu­al door” — which he illus­trates in his talk with an MRI of a skull in pro­file and list titled “The Cost of Doing Busi­ness.” For an ambi­tious free­lance jour­nal­ist, that meant “2 frac­tured kneecaps, 2 shat­tered arms, 1 snapped wrist, 2 man­gled ankles,” and the list goes on (includ­ing 5 con­cus­sions): a descrip­tion of injuries incurred while fol­low­ing extreme ath­letes around the world. What he saw, he says, were peo­ple who had every­thing going against them — lit­tle edu­ca­tion, lit­tle nat­ur­al abil­i­ty, and his­to­ries of “destroyed homes.”

The ath­letes he fol­lowed were trau­ma­tized peo­ple who would not nec­es­sar­i­ly be can­di­dates for world-chang­ing inno­va­tion. Yet here they were, “extend­ing the lim­its of kines­thet­ic pos­si­bil­i­ty” — doing the pre­vi­ous­ly impos­si­ble by achiev­ing flow states. Kotler’s descrip­tions of flow are often very Yang, we might say, focus­ing on “peak per­for­mance” and favor­ing sports exam­ples. But his claims for flow also sound like deeply heal­ing med­i­cine. He talks about “trig­ger­ing” flow states to “over­come PTSD, addic­tion, and heart­break.” Like Csik­szent­mi­ha­lyi, he saw first­hand how flow states can heal trau­ma.

We can achieve this “altered state of con­scious­ness” by surf­ing or sky­div­ing. We can also achieve it while solv­ing equa­tions, trans­lat­ing for­eign lan­guages, or knit­ting scarves. As Csik­szent­mi­ha­lyi points out, it is not the con­tent of an expe­ri­ence — or the expense in air­line tick­ets and bro­ken bones — that mat­ters so much as our state of absorp­tion in activ­i­ties we love and prac­tice reg­u­lar­ly, which take us away from thoughts about our ever-present prob­lems and open up the space for pos­si­bil­i­ty.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How to Enter a ‘Flow State’ on Com­mand: Peak Per­for­mance Mind Hack Explained in 7 Min­utes

Albert Ein­stein Tells His Son The Key to Learn­ing & Hap­pi­ness is Los­ing Your­self in Cre­ativ­i­ty (or “Find­ing Flow”)

Cre­ativ­i­ty, Not Mon­ey, is the Key to Hap­pi­ness: Dis­cov­er Psy­chol­o­gist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly’s The­o­ry of “Flow”

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

Bars, Beer & Wine in Ancient Rome: An Introduction to Roman Nightlife and Spirits

When they final­ly get those kinks worked out of the time machine and we can take a tourist trip back to Rome—having signed the non-inter­ven­tion paper­work, of course—we’re going to need some­one to guide us. I pro­pose that should be Gar­rett Ryan, host of the Told In Stone YouTube chan­nel, PhD in Greek and Roman His­to­ry, and author of Naked Stat­ues, Fat Glad­i­a­tors, and War Ele­phants: Fre­quent­ly Asked Ques­tions about the Ancient Greeks and Romans. He has made it his job to answer the every­day ques­tions about these two ancient cul­tures that most his­to­ri­ans pass over. But these are the ques­tions we’re going to need as tourists if we think we’re going to go par­ty in Ancient Rome.

Because invari­ably some­body in our tourist group is going to ask “where’s the bars and night­clubs?” Fair ques­tion. Ryan has the answers, all told in the video above.

Much like Las Vegas or Dubai, the real par­ty­ing is hap­pen­ing at the elite lev­els, among the idle rich who could afford day long ban­quets, extrav­a­gant activ­i­ties such as live lion hunts, and import dancers from as far away as Spain. In Ryan’s recon­struc­tion of a debauched night out he fol­lows a typ­i­cal nou­veau riche who goes slum­ming in the grim­i­er parts of the city, picks fights that his body­guards sort out, and then lies his way into a par­ty at a man­sion by claim­ing to know a friend inside. (He also bribes the guards). And then it’s on and on until the break of dawn.

For the major­i­ty of Romans though, the cities weren’t bustling at night. Most peo­ple rose at dawn and slept at dusk. Bars and eater­ies did exist, how­ev­er. After the din­ner hour, these weren’t fam­i­ly-friend­ly estab­lish­ments. There was gam­bling and drink­ing, and har­ried wait­ress­es who didn’t have time for dum­mies, and the beer and wine was cheap and excep­tion­al­ly low qual­i­ty, and…wait, what exact­ly has changed? Not much, it seems.

Ryan’s oth­er videos offer quick his­to­ries on the beer and wine selec­tions you might find in Rome and in the larg­er empire. Although the upper class­es looked down their Roman noses at beer, a major­i­ty of future Europe pre­ferred it, includ­ing Gaul, also known as mod­ern day France. Tac­i­tus con­sid­ered beer (from Ger­many) as bad as spoiled wine. And indeed a lot of it was sour, improved with the addi­tion of sweet­en­ers. The physi­cian Dioscorides didn’t like beer because it caused exces­sive gas. And while that might be true, it’s not like Roman wine would win any gold medals these days.

Both the Greeks and the Romans pre­ferred their wine heav­i­ly watered down, which might have been nec­es­sary for its strong taste. Sweet­en­ers like hon­ey would also be added to improve the taste. And most wine, fer­ment­ed in vats, only last­ed up to a year before turn­ing to vine­gar.

There’s so much more to learn at these videos, you should just dive in. But when the time trav­el trip comes, please keep your 21st cen­tu­ry opin­ions to your­self until we’re safe­ly home.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

An 8‑Minute Ani­mat­ed Flight Over Ancient Rome

The His­to­ry of Ancient Rome in 20 Quick Min­utes: A Primer Nar­rat­ed by Bri­an Cox

The Chang­ing Land­scape of Ancient Rome: A Free Online Course from Sapien­za Uni­ver­si­ty of Rome

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the Notes from the Shed pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

Free Online: Watch Stalker, Solaris, Mirror, and Other Masterworks by Soviet Auteur Andrei Tarkovsky

Andrei Tarkovsky under­stood cin­e­ma in a way no film­mak­er had before — and, quite pos­si­bly, in a way no film­mak­er has since. That impres­sion is rein­forced by any of his films, five of which are avail­able to watch free on Youtube. You’ll find them on the Youtube chan­nel of Mos­film, which was once the Sovi­et Union’s biggest film stu­dio. It was for Mos­film that Tarkovsky direct­ed his debut fea­ture Ivan’s Child­hood in 1962. Based on a folk­loric war sto­ry by Sovi­et writer Vladimir Bogo­molov, the film had already been made by anoth­er young direc­tor but reject­ed by the stu­dio. Tarkovsky’s ver­sion both sat­is­fied the high­er-ups and, with its inter­na­tion­al suc­cess, intro­duced the world to his own dis­tinc­tive cin­e­mat­ic vision.

“My dis­cov­ery of Tarkovsky’s first film was like a mir­a­cle. Sud­den­ly, I found myself stand­ing at the door of a room the keys of which had, until then, nev­er been giv­en to me.” These are the words of Ing­mar Bergman, to whom Tarkovsky would much lat­er pay trib­ute with his final film, The Sac­ri­fice, pro­duced in Bergman’s home­land of Swe­den.

But in between these films would come five oth­ers, each wide­ly con­sid­ered a mas­ter­work in its own way. Andrei Rublev offers a Tarkovskian view of the fif­teenth-cen­tu­ry Rus­sia inhab­it­ed by the epony­mous icon painter. Solaris adapts Stanis­law Lem’s sci­ence-fic­tion nov­el of a sen­tient plan­et and its psy­cho­log­i­cal manip­u­la­tion of cos­mo­nauts onboard a near­by space sta­tion.

It was with 1975’s Mir­ror that Tarkovsky turned inward. Draw­ing as deeply as pos­si­ble from the artis­tic poten­tial of his medi­um, he cre­at­ed a cin­e­mat­ic expe­ri­ence rich with mem­o­ry, his­to­ry, real­i­ty, and dreams — a kind of “poet­ry” in cin­e­ma, as one often hears his work described. The result­ing break with many of the con­ven­tions and expec­ta­tions attached to motion pic­tures at the time polar­ized crit­i­cal and pop­u­lar reac­tion. But the inter­ven­ing 47 years have ven­er­at­ed Tarkovsky’s artis­tic brazen­ness: in Sight & Sound’s most recent 100 Great­est Films of All Time poll, Mir­ror came in at num­ber nine­teen, sev­en places high­er than Andrei Rublev.

Despite hav­ing come in three spots below Andrei Rublev on the Sight & Sound poll, 1979’s Stalk­er is to many Tarkovsky fans far and away the auteur’s great­est achieve­ment. Its appar­ent­ly lin­ear, vague­ly sci­ence-fic­tion­al nar­ra­tive presents a jour­ney into “the Zone,” a mys­te­ri­ous region con­tain­ing a room that grants the wish­es of all who enter it. This sim­plis­tic-sound­ing premise belies a film of infi­nite depth: “I’ve seen Stalk­er more times than any film except The Great Escape,” writes Geoff Dyer (who once devot­ed an entire book to the for­mer). “It’s nev­er quite as I remem­ber. Like the Zone, it’s always chang­ing.” We watch Stalk­er — or indeed, any­thing in Tarkovsky oeu­vre — not to see a movie, but to see “the rea­son cin­e­ma was invent­ed.”

Relat­ed con­tent:

Andrei Tarkovsky’s Very First Films: Three Stu­dent Films, 1956–1960

The Sto­ry of Stalk­er, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Trou­bled (and Even Dead­ly) Sci-Fi Mas­ter­piece

Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris Shot by Shot: A 22-Minute Break­down of the Director’s Film­mak­ing

The Poet­ic Har­mo­ny of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Film­mak­ing: A Video Essay

What Andrei Tarkovsky’s Most Noto­ri­ous Scene Tells Us About Time Dur­ing the Pan­dem­ic: A Video Essay

Slavoj Žižek Explains the Artistry of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Films: Solaris, Stalk­er & More

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, 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, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

What Makes Vermeer’s The Milkmaid a Masterpiece?: A Video Introduction

Johannes (or Jan) Ver­meer’s tran­quil domes­tic scenes draw larg­er crowds than near­ly any oth­er Euro­pean painter; he, like Rem­brandt, is syn­ony­mous with the phrase “Dutch Mas­ter.” But for much of its exis­tence, his work lay in near-obscu­ri­ty. After his death, some of his most-renowned paint­ings passed through the hands of patrons and col­lec­tors for next to noth­ing. In 1881, for exam­ple, Girl with a Pearl Ear­ring sold for two guilders, thir­ty cents, or about $26.

While oth­er Ver­meer mas­ter­pieces lan­guished, one paint­ing nev­er lost its val­ue. The Milk­maid  – “prob­a­bly pur­chased from the artist by his Delft patron Pieter van Rui­jven,” who owned twen­ty-one of the artist’s works, notes the Met — was described at its 1696 auc­tion as “excep­tion­al­ly good.” It fetched the sec­ond high­est price of Ver­meer’s works (next to View of Delft). In 1719, “The famous milk­maid, by Ver­meer of Delft” (described as “art­ful”) began its jour­ney through a series of sig­nif­i­cant Ams­ter­dam col­lec­tions.

The Milk­maid even­tu­al­ly land­ed in the hands of “one of the great woman col­lec­tors of Dutch art, Lucre­tia Johan­na van Win­ter,” who mar­ried into the wealthy Six fam­i­ly of art col­lec­tors. Final­ly, in 1908, the Rijksmu­se­um pur­chased the paint­ing from her sons with help from the Dutch gov­ern­ment. The Milk­maid, that is to say, has remained part of the cul­tur­al her­itage of the Nether­lands from its begin­nings. In the Great Art Explained video above, you can learn what makes this ear­ly work, paint­ed between 1657–58, so spe­cial.

The Baroque art that pre­ced­ed Ver­meer’s gen­er­a­tion “came from con­flict,” name­ly the reli­gious wars of the Ref­or­ma­tion and Counter-Ref­or­ma­tion. “The art being pro­duced in Catholic coun­tries had become a pow­er­ful tool of pro­pa­gan­da, char­ac­ter­ized by a height­ened sense of dra­ma, move­ment and the­atri­cal­i­ty that had nev­er been seen before.” We see the dra­mat­ic tran­si­tion in Dutch art in the move­ment from Peter Paul Rubens to Ver­meer, as “sim­ple domes­tic inte­ri­ors of mid­dle-class life” became dom­i­nant: “sec­u­lar works that con­tain sto­ries of real human rela­tion­ships.” Those works arose in a Calvin­ist cul­ture that banned reli­gious imagery and stressed “sim­plic­i­ty in both wor­ship and dec­o­ra­tive style.”

The Dutch break with Catholic tra­di­tion meant a total rein­ven­tion of Dutch art; thus came the real­ist tra­di­tion, pro­duced not for the church but the wealthy mer­chant class, with Ver­meer as one of its ear­ly mas­ters because of his near-pho­to­graph­ic ren­der­ing of nat­ur­al light and nat­u­ral­is­tic com­po­si­tion. Ver­meer epit­o­mized the new Dutch art, despite the fact that he was a Catholic con­vert through mar­riage. After his mar­riage, he spent his life “in the same town, the same house, slow­ly pro­duc­ing paint­ings in the same room… at a rate of two or three a year.” His out­put, per­haps 60 paint­ings — 36 of which sur­vive — pales in com­par­i­son to that of his peers. But of all the artists pro­duc­ing domes­tic scenes, “there were none quite like Ver­meer.”

These scenes hard­ly seem rad­i­cal to view­ers today. They are prized for every­thing they are not — they are not Rubens: wild, fleshy, pas­sion­ate, las­civ­i­ous, exu­ber­ant… but that does not mean they are devoid of eroti­cism. There are obvi­ous sig­ni­fiers, such as a tile show­ing Cupid “bran­dish­ing his bow.” (Remind­ing us of a once-hid­den Cupid in anoth­er famous Ver­meer.) There are signs much less obvi­ous to us, such as the foot warmer, employed to “fre­quent­ly sug­gest fem­i­nine desire in Dutch genre paint­ings,” the Met writes. And then there is the resem­blance of Ver­meer’s “milk­maid” — with her down­cast eyes, white bon­net, and yel­low blouse — to a fig­ure in The Pro­curess, paint­ed the year pre­vi­ous, a work com­posed almost entire­ly of leers and gropes (and said to fea­ture the only self-por­trait of the artist him­self.)

Ver­meer’s Milk­maid “exudes a very earthy appeal,” a qual­i­ty that comes through not only in its sex­u­al under­tones but also in its ide­al depic­tion of Dutch “domes­tic virtue.” Both are sug­gest­ed at once by the pitch­er and the milk, com­mon sym­bols of female sex­u­al­i­ty. But it is a paint­ing that tran­scends the genre, which often enough shaped itself for the gaze of male employ­ers in a soci­ety that “acknowl­edged and accept­ed that maids engaged in love affairs with their mas­ters,” Gior­dana Goret­ti writes,” with con­sent or with­out it.” The “earth­i­ness” of Ver­meer’s mid­dle-class domes­tic paint­ings — per­haps most pro­found­ly in The Milk­maid as you’ll learn above — comes from a tri­umph of painter­ly tech­nique and per­spec­tive, cre­at­ing scenes so seem­ing­ly real that they resist objec­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

A 10 Bil­lion Pix­el Scan of Vermeer’s Mas­ter­piece Girl with a Pearl Ear­ring: Explore It Online

Down­load All 36 of Jan Vermeer’s Beau­ti­ful­ly Rare Paint­ings (Most in Bril­liant High Res­o­lu­tion)

A Restored Ver­meer Paint­ing Reveals a Por­trait of a Cupid Hid­den for Over 350 Years

See the Com­plete Works of Ver­meer in Aug­ment­ed Real­i­ty: Google Makes Them Avail­able on Your Smart­phone

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

Why 99% Of Smithsonian’s Specimens Are Hidden In High-Security

Muse­ums are the mem­o­ry of our cul­ture and they’re the mem­o­ry of our plan­et. — Dr. Kirk John­son, Direc­tor, Smith­son­ian Nation­al Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry

For many of us nat­ur­al his­to­ry muse­ums are emblem­at­ic of school field trips, or rainy day out­ings with (or as) chil­dren.

There’s always some­thing to be gleaned from the recon­struct­ed dinosaur skele­tons, daz­zling min­er­als, and 100-year-old spec­i­mens on dis­play.

The edu­ca­tion­al prospects are even greater for research sci­en­tists.

The above entry in Busi­ness Insid­er’s Big Busi­ness series takes us behind the scenes of the Smith­son­ian Nat­ur­al His­to­ry Muse­um, a fed­er­al­ly-fund­ed insti­tu­tion where more than 99% of its vast col­lec­tion is housed in the base­ment, on upper floors and employ­ees-only wings of exhi­bi­tion floors, or at an off­site facil­i­ty in neigh­bor­ing Mary­land.

The lat­ter is poised to pro­vide safe space for more of these trea­sures as cli­mate change-relat­ed flood­ing pos­es an increas­ing­ly dire threat. The museum’s Nation­al Mall loca­tion, which draws more than 6 mil­lion vis­i­tors annu­al­ly, is now vir­tu­al­ly at sea lev­el, and Con­gress is mov­ing at a pace for­mer­ly known as glacial to approve the expen­sive but nec­es­sary struc­tur­al improve­ments that would safe­guard these pre­cious col­lec­tions.

The muse­um cur­rent­ly boasts some 147 mil­lion spec­i­mens, and is con­tin­u­al­ly adding more, by means of field col­lec­tions, dona­tions, and pur­chas­es made with endow­ments, though as a non-prof­it insti­tu­tion, it’s rarely able to out­bid deep-pock­et­ed pri­vate col­lec­tors at auc­tions of hot-tick­et items like large dinosaur bones.

The Divi­sion of Birds’ dai­ly mail brings sam­ples of “snarge” — whatever’s left over when a bird makes impact with an air­craft.

Upon arrival at the Smith­son­ian, what­ev­er its size or mar­ket val­ue, every item is sub­ject­ed to a process of inspec­tion known as “acces­sion­ing”.

After that, it is metic­u­lous­ly cleaned.

Bee­tles in an off­site Osteo Prep Lab get to work on resid­ual organ­ic mate­ri­als like skin and tis­sue.

Human experts use a hand­held air scrape tool to incre­men­tal­ly sep­a­rate fos­sils from the rocky matrix in which they were dis­cov­ered

The goal is per­ma­nent stor­age state.

Geo­log­i­cal spec­i­mens are clas­si­fied accord­ing to Dana’s Sys­tem of Min­er­al­o­gy and stored in draw­ers. High-val­ue items are assigned to the Blue Room or the Gem Vault.

Bones that are look­ing to spend the bet­ter part of eter­ni­ty on a shelf are fit­ted for cus­tom fiber­glass and plas­tic cra­dles to pro­tect against pests, mois­ture, and grav­i­ty-relat­ed stress frac­tures.

The Depart­ment of Ento­mol­o­gy dries and pins incom­ing insects, arach­nids, and myr­i­apods, and stores them in hydraulic car­riages.

Mam­mals, rep­tiles, fish and birds are stuffed or pick­led in alco­hol.

Many items in the museum’s col­lec­tion date back to the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry.

These days, staff strive to pre­serve as much as they can, using every tool and sci­en­tif­ic advance­ment at their dis­pos­al. As ornithol­o­gist and feath­er iden­ti­fi­ca­tion spe­cial­ist Car­la Dove, states, “It’s our respon­si­bil­i­ty to do as much as we can with the spec­i­men if we’re going to take it from the wild for research.”

These care­ful prepa­ra­tions ensure that the world’s largest nat­ur­al his­to­ry col­lec­tion can con­tin­ue to serve as a liv­ing library for thou­sands of vis­it­ing scientists…climate change per­mit­ting.

Access to the Muse­um of Nat­ur­al History’s col­lec­tions and data­bas­es result in the pub­li­ca­tion of hun­dreds of research papers and the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of hun­dreds of new species every year.

In addi­tion to pro­vid­ing valu­able intel­li­gence for research ini­tia­tives on such top­ics as dis­ease trans­mis­sion, vol­canic activ­i­ty, and of course, the effects of bird strikes on air­planes, muse­um staff is work­ing toward a goal of pre­serv­ing each item with a dig­i­tal scan — 9 mil­lion and count­ing…

Relat­ed Con­tent 

The Smith­son­ian Design Muse­um Dig­i­tizes 200,000 Objects, Giv­ing You Access to 3,000 Years of Design Inno­va­tion & His­to­ry

The Smith­son­ian Puts 2.8 Mil­lion High-Res Images Online and Into the Pub­lic Domain

Smith­son­ian Dig­i­tizes & Lets You Down­load 40,000 Works of Asian and Amer­i­can Art

The Smith­son­ian Picks “101 Objects That Made Amer­i­ca”

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Free: Watch Battleship Potemkin and Other Films by Sergei Eisenstein, the Revolutionary Soviet Filmmaker

When it launched fif­teen years ago, the movie pod­cast Bat­tle­ship Pre­ten­sion took its name from two well-known sources: an atti­tude pop­u­lar­ly asso­ci­at­ed with cinephiles, and a 1925 motion pic­ture by Sergei Eisen­stein. To some, mere­ly ref­er­enc­ing a silent film made by a Sovi­et auteur in 1925 con­sti­tutes suf­fi­cient evi­dence of pre­ten­sion in and of itself. But most, even those who’ve nev­er seen a frame of Eisen­stein’s work, do rec­og­nize that Bat­tle­ship Potemkin has an impor­tant place in cin­e­ma his­to­ry — and if they actu­al­ly watch the movie, which is embed­ded just above, they’ll find that it looks and feels more famil­iar than they’d expect­ed.

Like any work of wide and deep influ­ence, Bat­tle­ship Potemkin has often been par­o­died over its near­ly 100 years of exis­tence. But none of its scenes has been paid as much homage, tongue in cheek or else­where, than the mas­sacre on the Odessa Steps, the sym­bol­ic entry­way to that city in what’s now Ukraine.

“Czarist troops march down a long flight of steps, fir­ing on the cit­i­zens who flee before them in a ter­ri­fied tide,” as Roger Ebert describes it. “Count­less inno­cents are killed, and the mas­sacre is summed up in the image of a woman shot dead try­ing to pro­tect her baby in a car­riage — which then bounces down the steps, out of con­trol.”

The con­tent of this sequence is as har­row­ing as its form is rev­o­lu­tion­ary. That’s true in the pro­pa­gan­dis­tic sense, but even more so in the artis­tic one: the Odessa Steps mas­sacre, like the whole of Bat­tle­ship Potemkin, func­tions as a proof-of-con­cept for Eisen­stein’s the­o­ries of mon­tage. Today we take for grant­ed — and in some cas­es have even come to resent — that movies so expert­ly jux­ta­pose their images so as to pro­voke the most intense emo­tion­al response pos­si­ble with­in us. That was­n’t so much the case a cen­tu­ry ago, when most exam­ples of the still-nov­el art form of cin­e­ma used their visu­als sim­ply to make their nar­ra­tives leg­i­ble.

Eisen­stein, how­ev­er, under­stood cin­e­ma’s true poten­tial. He explored it in a range of pic­tures that also includ­ed Ten Days That Shook the World, a drama­ti­za­tion of the 1917 Octo­ber Rev­o­lu­tion; Alexan­der Nevsky, on the repul­sion of invaders by the epony­mous thir­teenth-cen­tu­ry prince; and the epic his­tor­i­cal dra­ma Ivan the Ter­ri­ble, the sto­ry of the first tsar of all Rus­sia (and idol of Stal­in, who com­mis­sioned the project).

You can watch these films, as well as Eisen­stein’s unfin­ished trib­ute to the Mex­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion ¡Que viva Méx­i­co!, free on the Youtube chan­nel of Mos­film, the pre­em­i­nent stu­dio in the Sovi­et era. That Eisen­stein’s tech­niques have sur­vived not just him but the Sovi­et Union itself under­scores a truth he might have sus­pect­ed, but nev­er admit­ted: cin­e­ma is more pow­er­ful than pol­i­tics.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Sergei Eisenstein’s Ten Days That Shook the World (1928)

A Visu­al Intro­duc­tion to Sovi­et Mon­tage The­o­ry: A Rev­o­lu­tion in Film­mak­ing

Sergei Eisenstein’s Sem­i­nal Bat­tle­ship Potemkin Gets a Sound­track by Pet Shop Boys

Watch 70 Movies in HD from Famed Russ­ian Stu­dio Mos­film: Clas­sic Films, Beloved Come­dies, Tarkovsky, Kuro­sawa & More

James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake Gets Turned into an Inter­ac­tive Web Film, the Medi­um It Was Des­tined For

101 Free Silent Films: The Great Clas­sics

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, 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, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

Marie Curie’s Ph.D. Thesis on Radioactivity–Which Made Her the First Woman in France to Receive a Doctoral Degree in Physics

For her ground­break­ing research on radioac­tiv­i­ty, Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize. Or rather, she won two, one for physics and anoth­er for chem­istry, mak­ing her the only Nobel Lau­re­ate in more than one sci­ence. What’s more, her first Nobel came in 1903, the very same year she com­plet­ed her PhD the­sis at the Sor­bonne. In Recherch­es sur les sub­stances radioac­tives (or Research on Radioac­tive Sub­stances), Curie “talks about the dis­cov­ery of the new ele­ments radi­um and polo­ni­um, and also describes how she gained one of the first under­stand­ings of the new phys­i­cal phe­nom­e­non of radioac­tiv­i­ty.”

So says sci­ence Youtu­ber Toby Hendy in the intro­duc­tion below to Curie’s the­sis–a the­sis that made her the first woman in France to receive a doc­tor­al degree in physics. “Fol­low­ing on from the dis­cov­ery of X‑rays by Wil­helm Roent­gen in 1895 and Hen­ri Becquerel’s dis­cov­ery that ura­ni­um salts emit­ted sim­i­lar pen­e­tra­tion prop­er­ties,” says The Doc­u­ment Cen­tre, Curie “inves­ti­gat­ed ura­ni­um rays as a start­ing point, but in the process dis­cov­ered that the air around ura­ni­um rays is made to con­duct elec­tric­i­ty.”

Her deduc­tion that “the process was caused by prop­er­ties of the atoms them­selves” — a rev­o­lu­tion­ary find­ing that over­turned pre­vi­ous­ly held notions in physics — led her even­tu­al­ly to dis­cov­er radi­um and polo­ni­um, which would get her that sec­ond Nobel in 1911.

Unlike her Nobel Prize in physics, which she shared with her hus­band Pierre and the physi­cist Hen­ri Bec­quer­el, Marie Curie won her Nobel Prize in chem­istry alone. By 1911 Pierre had been dead for half a decade, but Marie’s sci­en­tif­ic genius could­n’t be stopped from con­tin­u­ing their pio­neer­ing research as far as she could take it in her own life­time. She clear­ly knew how vast a field her work, with and with­out her hus­band, had opened up: “Our research­es upon the new radio-active bod­ies have giv­en rise to a sci­en­tif­ic move­ment,” she writes at the end of Recherch­es sur les sub­stances radioac­tives. That move­ment con­tin­ues to make dis­cov­er­ies more than a cen­tu­ry lat­er — and her orig­i­nal the­sis itself remains radioac­tive.

Relat­ed con­tent:

An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion to the Life & Work of Marie Curie, the First Female Nobel Lau­re­ate

Marie Curie Became the First Woman to Win a Nobel Prize, the First Per­son to Win Twice, and the Only Per­son in His­to­ry to Win in Two Dif­fer­ent Sci­ences

Marie Curie Invent­ed Mobile X‑Ray Units to Help Save Wound­ed Sol­diers in World War I

How Amer­i­can Women “Kick­start­ed” a Cam­paign to Give Marie Curie a Gram of Radi­um, Rais­ing $120,000 in 1921

Marie Curie Attend­ed a Secret, Under­ground “Fly­ing Uni­ver­si­ty” When Women Were Banned from Pol­ish Uni­ver­si­ties

Marie Curie’s Research Papers Are Still Radioac­tive 100+ Years Lat­er

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, 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, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

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