Peel back the layers of science/history/technology, and this is what you get… 

A Rare Look at Japan: Hand-Colored Images from the 1920’s

Rare Look at Japan - Hand Colored Photographs from the 1920s - BrainPickings(ht: BrainPickings)

The Secret Life of Libraries

The great untold truth of libraries is that people need them not because they’re about study and solitude, but because they’re about connection. Some sense of their emotional value is given by the writer Mavis Cheek, who ran workshops within both Holloway and Erlestoke prisons. At Erlestoke she had groups of eight men who so enjoyed the freedom and contact of the writing groups they ended up breaking into the prison library when they found it shut one day. Which authors did they like best? “Graham Greene,” says Cheek. “All that adventure and penance. His stuff moves fast, it’s spare and it’s direct.”

Why Some Planets Spin Backwards

Astronomers have long theorized that big gas planets form further away from their stars, while Earth-like rocks are born closer in. But just because a Jupiter-like planet forms in the planetary boondocks doesn’t mean it stays there, Rasio and his colleagues reported. When planetary systems contain more than one planet, in addition to a star, each planet has its own gravitational force, causing the planets to interact and eventually pulling the gas giants close to the star and even reversing its orbit, the scientists found.

A Short History of Lady Pirates

Grace is perhaps most famous for sending a late-in-life letter to the Queen of England, in which she defended her marauding lifestyle and asked for “some reasonable maintenance for the little time” she had left on earth. In September 1593, she actually sailed to London and met the Queen in her Greenwich palace. Five days later, the governor of Connaught received a royal directive to arrange for O’Malley’s maintenance. (Perhaps the Queen was charmed by the notion of the graying pirate “invad[ing] with fire and sword all your highness’s enemies”—another memorable line from the letter.)

Battles and Casualties of the Civil War Map

Interactive Map of US Civil War Deaths Casualties Battles - Washington Post

History’s Black Widow: The Legend of Catherine de Medici

Catherine de Medici is known as the evil queen who masterminded a massacre. Or so the legend says. In truth, Catherine has been the target of a smear campaign that began in her lifetime and culminated with Alexander Dumas’s famous depiction of her in his novel La Reine Margot. Dumas exalted the queen we love to hate and enshrined her as history’s black widow.

Archaeologists May Have Unearthed Skull of ‘Mona Lisa’

Researchers will now compare DNA from the skull to bones of two children buried nearby who are believed to be Gherardini’s kids. “We don’t know yet if the bones belong to one single skeleton or more than one,” controversial art sleuth Silvano Vinceti, who is in charge of the dig, told the Austrian Times. “But this confirms our hypothesis that in St. Ursula convent there are still human bones, and we cannot exclude that among them there are bones belonging to Lisa Gherardini.” (ht: Ancient Digger)

CameraSim: The Online SLR Simulator

1. Experiment with the lighting, ISO, aperture, shutter, and distance settings while observing the readings in the camera viewfinder. 2. Click the “Snap photo!” button. 3. Review your photo!