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Scientific illustrations illuminate work by Galileo, Einstein and more


Taken from Anna EscardÓ’s book Science Illustration: A history of visual knowledge from the 15th century to today, these images range from Galileo’s watercolours to a sketch from Einstein’s notebook



Humans



24 August 2022

TASCHEN

THESE seminal scientific images, taken from the new book Science Illustration: A history of visual knowledge from the 15th century to today by Anna EscardÓ (published by Taschen), are more than just a treat for the eyes.

The lateral view of the human brain, shown above, is taken from French physician and anatomist Jean-Baptiste Marc Bourgery’s Atlas of Human Anatomy and Surgery. First published in 1831, this textbook is known as the most comprehensive ever produced on human anatomy.

By courtesy of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities (MiBACT), Central National Library of Florence, Ban of Reproduction; The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; By courtesy of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities (MiBACT), Central National Library of Florence, Ban of Reproduction

By courtesy of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities (MiBACT), Central National Library of Florence, Ban of Reproduction; The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; By courtesy of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities (MiBACT), Central National Library of Florence, Ban of Reproduction

The three images above show, from left to right: nerve synapses called the calyces of Held, drawn in 1934 by Santiago RamÓn y Cajal, whose neuron doctrine showed that the nervous system isn’t continuous, but is made from discrete cells; Albert Einstein’s 1905 sketch of a puzzle game from his relativity notebook; and watercolour illustrations of the moon by Galileo Galilei, based on observations made with a telescope he constructed in 1609 that was powerful enough to examine objects in the night sky.

Two giant donuts of charged particles called the Van Allen Belts surround Earth

NASA/T. Benesch, J. Carns

Shown above is NASA’s 2012 image of two “doughnuts” of charged particles, or plasma, surrounding Earth, an example of how computer graphics have created more precise and realistic depictions of invisible phenomena. These rings are called Van Allen radiation belts. NASA launched two probes in 2012 to better understand these regions and space weather more widely.

“Scientific illustrations allow the conveyance… of complex scientific concepts,” says EscardÓ. “Even today… it is still necessary to use illustration as a tool to capture images that can only be made through this medium.”

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