Tag Archives: science

Explorers’ Sketchbooks

This looks like a lovely book, full of travel sketches and notes on flora and fauna found in uncharted places: Explorers’ Sketchbooks.

“This remarkable book showcases 70 such sketchbooks, kept by intrepid men and women as they journeyed perilous and unknown environments—frozen wastelands, high mountains, barren deserts, and dense rainforests—with their senses wide open.”

Available at Amazon.


Andrew Croswell’s 19th Century Notebooks

I love stumbling on interesting antique notebooks like this!

“Andrew Croswell (1778-1858) was a student at Harvard University in the late 1790s. He later studied medicine in Plymouth, MA, and practiced there and in Fayette and Mercer, ME. In the collections [at the Massachusetts Historical Society] we hold two notebooks that were kept by Croswell. The first is a mathematical notebook which contains definitions and problems in geometry, trigonometry, and surveying. The second is a physician’s notebook that contains notes on the treatment of diseases and injuries, as well as the use of some medicines.

The second notebook, relating to various diseases and treatments, is text-heavy in its content. Croswell – who had very nice, neat, and even handwriting – copied observations from published medical texts, especially the work of Dr. Benjamin Rush.”

See lots more beautiful pages at: Massachusetts Historical Society: the Beehive

WWII Japanese Notebooks

A tantalizing glimpse of some Japanese notebooks dating back to World War II:

“Long-forgotten documents on Japan’s attempt to build an atomic bomb during World War II have been discovered at Kyoto University, which experts say further confirms the secret program’s existence and could reveal the level of the research. The newly found items, dating between October and November 1944, were stored at Kyoto University’s research center. Research into uranium-enrichment equipment, a key to the production of atomic weapons, was scribbled in three of the notebooks. Japan surrendered in August 1945 before the secret project could reach fruition. “The new data could show us the level of research they were involved in,” said Hitoshi Yoshioka, a professor who studies the history of scientific technology at Kyushu University. It has long been known that two programs were under way in Japan to produce a nuclear weapon during the war. One, commissioned by the Imperial Japanese Navy and code-named “F Research,” involved Bunsaku Arakatsu, a professor of physics at Kyoto Imperial University, the predecessor of Kyoto University, and other leading researchers at the institution. The other, carried out by the Imperial Japanese Army and known as the “Nigo Research” project, was spearheaded by Yoshio Nishina, a physicist at the Riken institute in Tokyo. Yoshioka, well versed in the development of nuclear-related technology, noted that there are few known documents on the research that took place at Kyoto Imperial University compared with that conducted at Riken. The notebooks in question belonged to Sakae Shimizu, a researcher who worked for Arakatsu.”

Read more at Wartime documents shed light on Japan’s secret A-bomb program – AJW by The Asahi Shimbun

Isaac Newton’s Notebooks

The front cover of Isaac Newton’s notebook from the 1660s. How amazing to think that something he called a “Waste Book” would contain his notes on scientific and mathematical concepts that are so important to us today! The pages are available digitally via the Cambridge University Library.

See more images at Isaac Newton’s Personal Notebooks Go Digital | Wired Science | Wired.com.

New Book: “Field Notes on Science and Nature”

This sounds like a great book: Field Notes on Science and Nature

Why are scientists’ field notebooks so valuable? And do notes really matter anymore, with global positioning systems, laptops and digital cameras available to document information traditionally recorded through sketches and barely legible scrawl? In “Field Notes on Science and Nature,” edited by Michael R. Canfield, more than a dozen biologists, anthropologists, geologists and illustrators explore these questions as they open up and dissect their journals, and a few of their forebears’ as well.

Some of the journals are mélanges of art and probing text, including personal revelations (“I never thought I could cry over a goose. But I did”) and copious notes to self. Though written in recent decades, their style would have been familiar to 19th-century readers of travelogues by naturalists like Wallace, Charles Darwin and Henry Walter Bates—books that were often little more than cleaned-up field journals.
Yet a few journals on display in “Field Notes” appear downright clinical, consisting of orderly measurements and lists of species laid out on graph paper. This “just the facts, ma’am” approach is the direction in which field notes have been heading for some time; the newer technologies have only hastened the course. Many of the “Field Notes” authors lament this trend, and not without reason. Journaling—the act of committing information to one’s future self or to unknown others—does more than record facts. It trains the scientific mind.

It sounds like the book includes quite a few reproductions of actual notebook pages, plus essays about scientific journaling. I can’t wait to find a copy to browse through!

Read more at Book Review: Field Notes on Science and Nature – WSJ.com.

Reader Week: Jessa’s Science Students

Jessa sent me an email with this great notebook story:

I teach 6th grade Science at a Friends School in Philadelphia and I base a large percentage of my curriculum around the notion of observing, recording, and taking pride in a scientific sketchbook.
My students still take notes in a traditional binder, but for each unit they are required to do several annotated sketches in any way they please to help them cement the information.

Check out all the great drawings these kids have done in their notebooks, they’re amazing! This really struck a chord with me, because I loved science as a kid and was always drawing planets and eyeballs and stuff like this. Now I feel like doing it again!

Thanks again to Jessa for sharing these wonderful notebooks from her very talented students!

Kolby Kirk’s First Journal

I featured Kolby Kirk’s hiking journals here a while ago, but more recently, I came across a post on another blog of his, talking about his first journal. I love how he explored his interests in a variety of topics in these wonderful sketches:

The journal itself is pretty neat– a spiral bound sketchbook onto which he glued an expanding folder:

Read more at kolbykirk.com » Blog Archive » My First Journal.

Don’t forget that notebooks make great holiday gifts! Check out the Notebook Stories Store for lots of great brands.

Notebook Addict of the Month: Paul

This week’s addict had to be upgraded to Addict of the Month. Paul has been a faithful reader and correspondent for quite a while now, sharing not only photos of his own notebooks, but links to historical notebooks and other interesting trivia. Did you know, for instance, that the last entry in Samuel Pepys’ diary was dated May 31, 1669? According to Paul, who celebrates the day as a special one for diarists, Pepys “discontinued his journal (begun New Year’s Day 1660) because he feared (mistakenly) he was going blind. So, every May 31 is the day that I feel I must post a blog entry, or write in my holographic diary, even if I abandon it all other times.”

More from Paul on his history with notebooks:

I’ve been a diarist since I was in fifth grade (I just turned 47). Unfortunately, all my diaries from fifth grade (1974) until I dropped out of college (1989) vanished when I stored them in a storage locker I didn’t keep paying for. Since resuming on New Year’s Day 1990, I’ve used legal ledgers, spiral notebooks, Write-in-the-Rain, and, more recently composition books (inspired partly, I admit, by JOE GOULD’S SECRET, SE7EN, and HENRY FOOL.) I turn 50 in 2013, and I have decided I will switch to bound legal ledgers (Boorum & Pease and/or Avery) at that point.

Here are various photos of some of Paul’s notebooks:

As for historical notebooks, Paul shared these, as well as some others I’ll feature in future posts:

These are in display cases on the first floor of the William Oxley Thompson Library at Ohio State University. These are notebooks included in this display.

The first two pictures (100_0283.jpg and 100_0284.jpg) are the work notebooks and rough drafts of William Vollmann’s gigantic novel Europe Central.

The other two are the field notebooks of Dr. Richard Goldthwait (1911-1992), professor of geology at OSU.

Many thanks to Paul for sharing his love of notebooks! You can follow Paul’s blog at Melville at the Customs-House.

Field Notebooks from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Some nice images from field notebooks shared by four people from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology:

Read more at Keeping a Field Notebook, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The Invention Notebook!

I loved this picture– it reminded me of the goofy ideas I sketched out in some of my childhood notebooks:

It’s from a review of a book called The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook.. The notebook itself is a pretty cool concept, with space to tuck pencils in the spine and that awesome brain-lightning logo! And the book sounds like a fun pick for your favorite science-nerd/ notebook-nerd kid!