Tuesday, 23 October 2018

dark they were and golden-eyed

Our faithful antiquarian, JF Ptak’s Science Books, finds some lush, poetic language in the debate that spanned from the time when astronomer Percival Lowell’s assistant Carl O Lampland described the exacting photographs taken of the surface of Mars by Eugene Michel Antoniadi.

Lampland came by this poetic license by way of an Italian false-friend (falso amico) but the mistranslation sparked a vigorous back and forth about Martians and design that lasted from 1886 to 1909, when the photographer accounts for the optical illusions in the channels that captivated the public and attempts to finally dispel the persistent illusion. There’s an excerpt below in translation but be sure to visit the source up top for more verses and more finds from old books and journals.

Our observations lead us to divide the channels into several categories, namely: In diffuse shadows, more or less irregular, some of which appear double in a fleeting way; In gnarled blobs; In gray masses, shapeless and disjointed; In irregular, thin blurring, in the construction of a hedge of Martian seas, and widen into a vast and confused shadow further on, like new with their tributaries, seen at a great distance.