Was Air Travel Really Better ‘Back Then’?

Clicking through picryl, the huge online source for public-domain images, I stumbled upon a trove of old travel posters from the middle of last century. The decades between the 1920s and 1970s have been called the Golden Age of Air Travel. I certainly felt a sense of nostalgia from the posters I saw. It seems […]

New York City Almost Had Subway Trains That Worked Like Soda Straws

Scrolling through public domain photos on rawpixel, I stumbled upon some drawings of an odd-looking subway. The car is a flat-ended tube and slips through the tunnel with barely any space to spare. I hadn’t seen the images before, nor had I heard of the “Broadway Underground Railway” they depicted, so I investigated. This is […]

Pierre-Joseph Redouté, History’s Greatest Painter of Flowers

I recently stumbled upon a striking collection of antique flower paintings on rawpixel from Belgian painter Pierre-Joseph Redouté. I was vaguely familiar with Redouté’s work–I remembered that John Audubon met him once in Paris–so I decided to investigate. This is what I learned. Botanical Illustration flourished in the 19th century and nobody dominated the genre […]

How John James Audubon Achieved Fame

I wrote a short post recently about John James Audubon in later life. I thought I’d spend some time now trying to understand how he was able to complete his most famous work, The Birds of America and its companion Ornithological Biography. Together, they run to nine volumes, thousands of pages of text, and 435 […]

John James Audubon Painted Mammals, Too.

I’m a big fan of rats. They make great pets, believe it or not. So, when I ran across this image, I had to investigate. It was drawn by John J. Audubon. Audubon is most famous for The Birds of America, a four-volume portfolio of paintings of almost 500 different species of birds published between […]

Here’s What Makes Barn Owls Exceptional Hunters

Barn Owls seem to be everywhere on the internet these days, which makes sense since they’re almost everywhere, period. They inhabit more places in the world than any other species of owl, and they’re one of the most widespread of any land bird. Their superb hunting ability helps to explain their success. The Barn Owl’s […]

Where Did Rice Come From?

I recently stumbled upon hundreds of photos of rice farming that include just absolutely breathtaking scenery from around the world. Duyệt Trần Văn posted the above images from Vietnam on Pixabay. They depict terrace farming, which permits the cultivation of crops even against steep-sided mountains. The photos left me wondering about the historical development of […]

NASA’s Perseverance Rover is Almost to Mars

The folks at NASA always impress with the amount and quality of the media they provide for space enthusiasts to sift through. Recently I stumbled upon a ton of images and videos about the Mars 2020 robotic mission currently zooming toward a February 2021 touchdown. NASA is targeting Jezero Crater for the landing. One of […]

The Great Divide is Not the Only Continental Divide Out There

How much do you know about the Great Divide? Some of us know that it generally tracks the Rocky Mountains in the United States. But did you know it runs north all the way to the coast of the Bering Sea in Alaska? Or that it extends south into Mexico, across the Isthmus of Panama, […]

Hokusai, Woodblock Printing and the Art of Ukiyo-e

I spotted this spellbinding image a few days ago. I sat gaping at my screen; I think I was waiting for the waves to crash down and destroy the boats. Then I noticed the mountain incongruously peeking out from behind the action. I thought I recognized Mount Fuji’s distinctive cone. I did a little googling […]


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