How 19th Century Art is Painting a Picture of Earth's Polluted Past: Turner's Sunsets Reveal Volcanic Ash and Gas in the Sky
He was one of Britain’s greatest ever painters, his works lauded for their atmosphere and visual mastery. Scientists, however, have found another reason to marvel at the pictures of J.M.W. Turner – they believe they will help them to assess how polluted the world once was. They say landscapes by artists such as Turner accurately recorded the chemicals in the air.
The key, according to the atmospheric physicists, is in the colour of the sunsets they depicted. Scientists analysed hundreds of paintings completed between 1500 and 2000, a period covering more than 50 major volcanic eruptions around the globe.
The results, published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, reveal that when the Tambora volcano in Indonesia erupted in 1815, painters could see the colours of the sky changing.
The volcanic ash and gas that was spewed into the atmosphere travelled the world and as these aerosol particles scattered sunlight, they produced bright red and orange sunsets in Europe for up to three years after the eruption.
Dr Zerefos and his team analysed hundreds of high-quality digital photographs of sunset paintings created between 1500 and 2000, during which time there were 50 large volcanic eruptions around the globe.
They were looking to find out whether the relative amounts of red and green along the horizon of each painting could provide information on the amount of aerosols in the atmosphere.
Dr Zerefos said: ‘We found that red-to-green ratios measured in the sunsets of paintings by great masters correlate well with the amount of volcanic aerosols in the atmosphere, regardless of the painters and of the school of painting.’
Skies more polluted by volcanic ash scatter sunlight more, so they appear redder and similar effects are seen with mineral or man-made aerosols.
Air with a higher amount of aerosols has a higher 'aerosol optical depth' - a parameter the team calculated using the red-to-green ratios in the paintings.
They then compared these values with those given by independent proxies such as ice core and ‘volcanic- explosivity’ data to find a good correlation.
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A dramatic and revelatory new account of the final days in Hitler's bunker, based on new access to Soviet state, military and FSB archives and cutting-edge forensics.
On 30 April 1945, Hitler committed suicide in his bunker as the Red Army closed in on Berlin. Within four days the Soviets had recovered his body. But the truth about what the Russian secret services found was hidden from history when, three months later, Stalin officially declared to Churchill and Truman that Hitler was still alive and had escaped abroad. Doubts began to spread like gangrene and continue, even today, to feed wild fantasies about what really happened to him.
In 2017, after two years of painstaking negotiations with the Russian authorities, award-winning investigative journalists Jean-Christophe Brisard and Lana Parshina gained access to confidential Soviet files that finally revealed the truth about the incredible hunt for Hitler's body.
Their investigation includes new eyewitness accounts of Hitler's final days, exclusive photographic evidence and interrogation records, and exhaustive research into the absurd power struggle that ensued between the Soviet, British and American intelligence agencies. And for the first time since the end of the Second World War, authorised cutting-edge forensic tests are carried out on the human remains recovered from the bunker - a piece of skull with traces of the lethal bullet; a fragment of jaw bone and teeth.
In this fascinating investigation as thrilling as any spy novel, Brisard and Parshina debunk all previous conspiracy theories about the death of the Führer. With breathtaking precision and immediacy, they penetrate one of the most powerful and controversial secret services on earth to take us inside the final hours of Hitler's bunker - and solve the most notorious cold case in history.
On August 14, 1945, Alfred Eisenstaedt took a picture of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square, minutes after they heard of Japan's surrender to the United States. Two weeks later LIFE magazine published that image. It became one of the most famous WWII photographs in history (and the most celebrated photograph ever published in the world's dominant photo-journal), a cherished reminder of what it felt like for the war to finally be over. Everyone who saw the picture wanted to know more about the nurse and sailor, but Eisenstaedt had no information and a search for the mysterious couple's identity took on a dimension of its own. In 1979 Eisenstaedt thought he had found the long lost nurse. And as far as almost everyone could determine, he had. For the next thirty years Edith Shain was known as the woman in the photo of V-J Day, 1945, Times Square. In 1980 LIFE attempted to determine the sailor's identity. Many aging warriors stepped forward with claims, and experts weighed in to support one candidate over another. Chaos ensued.
For almost two decades Lawrence Verria and George Galdorisi were intrigued by the controversy surrounding the identity of the two principals in Eisenstaedt's most famous photograph and collected evidence that began to shed light on this mystery. Unraveling years of misinformation and controversy, their findings propelled one claimant's case far ahead of the others and, at the same time, dethroned the supposed kissed nurse when another candidate's claim proved more credible. With this book, the authors solve the 67-year-old mystery by providing irrefutable proof to identify the couple in Eisenstaedt's photo. It is the first time the whole truth behind the celebrated picture has been revealed.
The authors also bring to light the couple's and the photographer's brushes with death that nearly prevented their famous spontaneous Times Square meeting in the first place. The sailor, part of Bull Halsey's famous task force, survived the deadly typhoon that took the lives of hundreds of other sailors. The nurse, an Austrian Jew who lost her mother and father in the Holocaust, barely managed to escape to the United States. Eisenstaedt, a World War I German soldier, was nearly killed at Flanders.
The murder of Elizabeth Short, known as the “Black Dahlia,” is one of American history’s most brutal and mysterious killings.
On Jan. 15, 1947, Short was found dead, brutally mutilated, in a residential neighborhood outside of Los Angeles. The case made nationwide news, due to the horrific, graphic nature of the crime.
Short’s corpse was severed at the waist, and her intestines had been removed, folded up, and tucked under her lower torso. Pieces of her skin had been removed, there were ligature marks on her wrists and ankles, and her body had been entirely drained of blood. Her corpse had been wiped down with gasoline before being dumped.
The most horrifying part, however, was the lacerations on her face. The killer had sliced each side of her face, from the corners of her mouth to her ears, creating a Joker-like smile.
A week after her body was found, Los Angeles Examiner editor James Richardson received a call from a person claiming to be the murderer, who said he would be sending “souvenirs” of Short in the mail.
Four days later, a postal worker found an envelope addressed to the Examiner. Inside were Short’s birth certificate, business cards, photographs, a list of names, and an address book.
The media branded Short as a sexual deviant, claiming that she would trick men into giving her room and board, gifts and money in return for sex, and then not deliver on her promises.
Police searched hundreds of locations throughout Los Angeles for clues, heard over 60 confessions for the murder, and interviewed over 12 suspects, but ultimately never arrested anyone.
Most people assumed that the Black Dahlia murder was a date gone wrong, or that she had run into a sinister fellow late at night while walking alone.
For 70 years, the Black Dahlia murder case remained open. Cold, but open.
- Read more at allthatisinteresting.com
THE BLACK DAHLIA- FBI.GOV
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HAROLD SCHECHTER is a professor of American literature at Queens College, CUNY. He is best known for his historical true-crime writing and for reference works such as The A-to-Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers and The Serial Killer Files. The Contributing Editor, Robert Kolker, is a New York magazine contributing editor, a finalist for the National Magazine Award, and the author of Lost Girls. He writes frequently about issues surrounding criminal justice and the unforeseen impact of extraordinary events on everyday people. He lives with his family in Brooklyn.
Beekman Place, once one of the most exclusive addresses in Manhattan, had a curious way of making it into the tabloids in the 1930s: “SKYSCRAPER SLAYER,” “BEAUTY SLAIN IN BATHTUB” read the headlines. On Easter Sunday in 1937, the discovery of a grisly triple homicide at Beekman Place would rock the neighborhood yet again—and enthrall the nation. The young man who committed the murders would come to be known in the annals of American crime as the Mad Sculptor.
Caught up in the Easter Sunday slayings was a bizarre and sensationalistic cast of characters, seemingly cooked up in a tabloid editor’s overheated imagination. The charismatic perpetrator, Roger Irwin, was a brilliant young sculptor who had studied with some of the masters of the era. But with his genius also came a deeply disturbed psyche; Irwin was obsessed with sexual self-mutilation and was frequently overcome by outbursts of violent rage.
Irwin’s primary victim, Veronica Gedeon, was a figure from the world of pulp fantasy—a stunning photographer’s model whose scandalous seminude pinups would titillate the public for weeks after her death. Irwin’s defense attorney, Samuel Leibowitz, was a courtroom celebrity with an unmatched record of acquittals and clients ranging from Al Capone to the Scottsboro Boys. And Dr. Fredric Wertham, psychiatrist and forensic scientist, befriended Irwin years before the murders and had predicted them in a public lecture months before the crime.
Based on extensive research and archival records, The Mad Sculptor recounts the chilling story of the Easter Sunday murders—a case that sparked a nationwide manhunt and endures as one of the most engrossing American crime dramas of the twentieth century. Harold Schechter’s masterful prose evokes the faded glory of post-depression New York and the singular madness of a brilliant mind turned against itself. It will keep you riveted until the very last page.- THE POWERHOUSE ARENA.COM
Murder of a Pinup Legend: The Mad Sculptor Murders Veronica Gedeon
WABC INTERVIEWS HAROLD ABOUT THE MAD SCULPTOR
In 2005 archaeologists working at the site of El Brujo on the north coast of Peru uncovered an intriguing bundle of cloth. It had been buried in an ornately painted funerary complex of adobe in about A.D. 400. Inside lay the naturally mummified body of a young female aristocrat from the Moche culture, which flourished in that region a thousand years before the Inca. Experts have now recreated the woman’s features using techniques normally employed to solve crimes.
The mummy is known locally as the Señora of Cao, named after a nearby town, Magdalena de Cao. She’s currently on display in a museum at El Brujo, but she’s hard to see. To help preserve her, she’s kept in a climate-controlled chamber. Visitors can look in through a window, but they don’t view the mummy directly—they only get a glimpse in a deftly angled mirror.
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Starr (Blood) eloquently juxtaposes the crimes of French serial killer Joseph Vacher and the achievements of famed criminologist Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne during France's belle époque. From 1894 to 1897, Vacher is thought to have raped, killed, and mutilated at least 25 people, though he would confess to only 11 murders. Lacassagne, who headed the department of legal medicine at the university in Lyon, was a pioneer in crime scene analysis, body decomposition, and early profiling, and investigated suspicious deaths, all in an era when rural autopsies were often performed on the victim's dinner table.
Lacassagne's contributions to the burgeoning field of forensic science, as well as the persistence of investigating magistrate Émile Fourquet, who connected crimes while crisscrossing the French countryside, eventually brought Vacher to justice. Vacher claimed insanity, which then (as now) was a vexed legal issue. Lacassagne proved the "systematic nature" of the crimes. Starr, codirector of Boston University's Center for Science and Medical Journalism, creates tension worthy of a thriller; in Lacassagne, he portrays a man determined to understand the "how" behind some of humanity's most depraved and perhaps take us one step closer to the "why." 16 pages of photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Douglas Starr is an old pro at reporting and writing science history, which puts The Killer of Little Shepherds squarely in his wheelhouse. The author ably tells two stories—of the serial killer Vacher’s lust for murder and of the developing science that finally caught up with him—and there are enough fascinating details here to keep even the most jaded forensics fans entertained.
More popular journalism than a failed “quest to understand evil” (New York Times), Starr’s compelling history can be added to the growing library of books (Devil in the White City, The Lost City of Z, The Ghost Map) that brings to life forgotten or neglected events by playing on a reader’s sense of adventure and the unknown, as well as the satisfaction of witnessing a confounding puzzle well solved.
“Chilling . . . An exemplar of historical true-crime nonfiction.”
-Mark Dunkelman, Favorite Books of 2010, The Providence Journal
“Absorbing . . . Starr’s thought-provoking journey, through the strange underbelly of a vividly rendered France, lingers in the reader’s memory.”
-Elyssa East, The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)
“Engrossing and carefully researched.”-The New Yorker
“A- . . . Gripping, almost novelistic . . . Like an episode of CSI: 19th-Century France.”
-Tina Jordan, Entertainment Weekly
“Riveting.”-Laura Spinney, Nature
“Gripping . . . Starr’s description of the legal, medical and even philosophical questions around Vacher’s responsibility are strikingly current.”-Drew DeSilver, The Seattle Times
“The perfect true-crime book to curl up with on an autumn night.”-Doug Childers, Richmond Times-Dispatch