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Posts by Michael Wenyon

NYPL, Mother of Invention

On quitting his classes at Harvard in 1927, Edwin Land moved to New York and became a regular user of the library’s Science Division. His goal: the manufacture of a polarizing light filter, the basic idea behind Polaroid sunglasses. Between the library and a variety of makeshift labs, he eventually figured out how to embed microscopic crystals of “herapathite” in molten sheets of plastic and align them all in one direction. He named the invention Polaroid, and used the name again when he invented his instant photography. Land had discovered the identity of the crucial 

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Looking at Biology

With new technologies that can make images of molecules, biology has been returning to its origins as a visual science, according to Moselio Schaechter, writing on his blog Small Things Considered. Biologists can now “see” how an enzyme works or how macromolecules interact with molecules large and small, and the revolution is leading to a specialist field called Structural Biology. The visual origins of biology are abundantly illustrated in the holdings of The New York Public Library, including 

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Log Cabins R Us

Folk singer Pete Seeger looked up 'log cabin' at The New York Public Library when he wanted to build a home in upstate New York, according to a recent New Yorker interview (Wilkinson, Alec. "The Protest Singer." New Yorker v.82, no. 9 (April 17, 2006): p44).

Curious, I repeated his query in the library catalog starting with a simple search for "log cabin*" (the asterisk wildcard finds both singular and plural). Now I've posted a guide to these resources, attached 

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