Nazis turned candy bars into a secret weapon

Nazis turned candy bars into a secret weapon

Dark chocolate bars. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

First, force the British to endure food shortages—then make them eat exploding candy bars. That was at least part of the Nazi plan to destroy Britain during World War II, according to drawings of German weapons recently seen for the first time, the Smithsonian reports.

Among the drawings: a bomb hidden in a motor-oil can and a mess tin of bangers and mash that also held a bomb, per the BBC.

Then there’s the chocolate bar (viewable in this tweet), which was designed to detonate seven seconds after the chocolate was broken. The Nazis reportedly hoped to assassinate Winston Churchill with such a bar by placing it amid items going into the War Cabinet’s dining room, according to a letter discovered in 2009, the Telegraph reported three years ago.

That 1943 letter was written by Lord Rothschild to artist Laurence Fish, who also made the drawings of various Nazi booby-traps. Rothschild—”a larger-than-life character, a scientist and self-appointed expert on many things,” the BBC says—was also one third of MI5’s counter-espionage unit, along with his secretary (and future wife) and police inspector Donald Fish.

Rothschild wanted someone to draw the devices he was finding—in order to create a sort of manual for any Brits who might encounter them—and Fish recommended his son, Laurence, a self-taught draughtsman, the Gloucestershire Echo reports.

Long thought lost, the drawings turned up in the home of Rothschild’s daughter a few weeks ago. (This author claims Nazi soldiers were high on crystal meth.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Nazis Turned Candy Bars Into Secret Weapon

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Missing for 14 Years, a $15M Picasso Returns Home


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By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2015 6:00 AM CDT

(NEWSER) – A stolen painting by Pablo Picasso is back in the hands of the French government 14 years after it vanished from a Paris museum. The 1911 work La Coiffeuse (The Hairdresser) was discovered in December in a FedEx package sent to New York from Belgium. Though the package said it contained a $37 “craft/toy,” experts value the painting at $15 million.

Yesterday, it was handed over to the French embassy in Washington, reports NBC News. “We’re so glad that it’s going to be shown to the world again,” the director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement says. Officials have said nothing as to how the painting was stolen, who took it, or who mailed the package. The Guardian reports an investigation into the theft is ongoing; no arrests have been made.


An officer stands guard next to Pablo Picasso's painting entitled La Coiffeuse, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, at the French Embassy, in Washington.
An officer stands guard next to Pablo Picasso’s painting entitled “La Coiffeuse,” Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, at the French Embassy, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

70 Years Ago Today, Hiroshima Happened

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By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2015 2:49 AM CDT | Updated Aug 6, 2015 4:00 AM CDT

(NEWSER) – Japan marked the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima today, with Mayor Kazumi Matsui renewing calls for President Obama and other world leaders to step up efforts toward ridding the world of nuclear weapons. Tens of thousands of people stood for a minute of silence at 8:15am local time at a ceremony in Hiroshima’s peace park near the epicenter of the 1945 attack, marking the moment of the blast. Then dozens of doves were released as a symbol of peace. The US bomb, “Little Boy,” the first nuclear weapon used in war, killed 140,000 people. A second bomb, “Fat Man,” dropped over Nagasaki three days later, killed another 70,000, prompting Japan’s surrender in World War II.

The US dropped the bombs to avoid what would have been a bloody ground assault on the Japanese mainland, following the fierce battle for Japan’s southernmost Okinawan islands, which took 12,520 American lives and an estimated 200,000 Japanese, about half civilians. Matsui called nuclear weapons “the absolute evil and ultimate inhumanity” that must be abolished, and criticized nuclear powers for keeping them as threats to achieve their national interests. He said the world still bristles with more than 15,000 nuclear weapons and renewed an invitation to world leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki to see the scars themselves, during the G-7 summit in Japan next year.

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Doves fly over the cenotaph dedicated to the victims of the atomic bombing at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park during the ceremony today.
(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

The Alamo is now a World Heritage site

The United States has succeeded in its bid to “Remember the Alamo,” after the U.N. cultural body approved its status as a world heritage site Sunday.

The Alamo was one of five Spanish Roman Catholic sites, known as the San Antonio Missions, to receive the coveted label likely to boost tourism.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee approved the Missions’ status along with more than a dozen others from around the globe, including the Gunkanjima industrial site off Japan that South Korea had long objected to.

Susan Snow, an archaeologist for San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, said the site in Texas represents “the very essence of the great melting pot of the United States.”

“These Missions are a living example of the interchange of cultures bringing together the indigenous, Spanish, Mexican, and other influences that form South Texas today,” Snow said in a statement following the decision in Bonn, Germany.

The Missions were built in the 18th century in and around what is now the city of San Antonio to convert indigenous people to Catholicism and make them Spanish subjects.

The best known of the missions, The Alamo, was the site of the famous 1836 battle when an outnumbered band of Texas settlers staged a courageous stand before Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and his Mexican forces seized the mission. During the Battle of San Jacinto weeks later, then-victorious Texas soldiers shouted, “Remember the Alamo!”

U.S. officials hope the designation will boost tourism to San Antonio, already one of the city’s top five industry and responsible for one in eight jobs.

The Missions were the only sites in the United States proposed for world heritage status this year. Other American icons already on the list include the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon.

In another decision, Japan received world heritage status for a collection of almost two dozen sites that illustrate the country’s industrial revolution during the 19th century.

The unanimous vote in favor of Japan’s bid was approved only after Tokyo and Seoul resolved a spat over whether to acknowledge the sites’ history of wartime forced labor, particularly that of Gunkanjima, or Battleship Island.

The fortress island near Nagasaki was key to Japan’s rapid development during the 1868-1912 era of the Meiji Emperor, who sought to catch up with Western colonial powers.

Until recently, Seoul had objected to the listing unless the role of Korean prisoners forced to work there during World War II was formally recognized.

“Japan is prepared to take measures that allow an understanding that there were a large number of Koreans and others who were brought against their will and forced to work under harsh conditions in the 1940s at some of the sites,” the Japanese delegation said in a statement after the decision.

More than a dozen other sites have also been granted world heritage status in recent days. They include:

— The Burgundy vineyards south of Dijon, France, which have been shaped by centuries of wine making. Along with surrounding villages and the historic center of Dijon, the site represents an industry in existence since at least the 12th century.

— Champagne, the sparkling wine distinctive of the eponymous French region, represented in the vineyards, the cellars where the bottled wine ferments a second time, and the storied sales houses.

— The Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens of Turkey, which goes back to ancient Greek and Roman times.

— The Par Force Hunting Landscape northeast of Copenhagen, a sculpted woodland where Danish kings hunted with hounds until the 18th century.

— A Lutheran church settlement known as Christiansfeld, also in Denmark. Founded in 1773 in the region of South Jutland, the town was built around a central church square to represent the democratic ideal of this Protestant denomination.

— Tusi sites in southwest China, named after the tribal chiefs who ruled there from the 13th to the early 20th century.

— The archaeological mounds and Ardeshir’s palace along the Shavur River in Iran. Known as Susa, the site was continuously settled from the 5th century B.C. until the 13th century.

— The Maymand valley region of central Iran inhabited by semi-nomadic people who move between mountain pastures and caves depending on the season.

— Singapore’s Botanical Gardens, which were created in 1859 and have since become a world-class conservation and research site, as well as a major tourist attraction for the city state.

— The Baekje region of South Korea comprising archaeological sites dating from the late 5th to late 7th century.

— Mongolia’s sacred Great Burkhan Khaldun Mountain where Central Asian steppe meets the Siberian taiga. Tradition holds that it is the site of Genghis Khan’s birth and burial.

— Sicilian churches and palaces dating back to the island’s 12th-century Norman rule, which incorporated Arab and Byzantine culture.

— Christian pilgrimage sites in modern Jordan where Jesus is said to have been baptized, along with Roman and Byzantine remains in the area.

— Prehistoric rock art showing human and animal figures in Saudi Arabia’s Hail Region.

— Hamburg’s Speicherstadt district, a vast complex of red-brick warehouses built between 1883 and 1927 in Germany’s biggest port.

— The Rjukan-Notodden industrial site in Norway, built in the early 20th century to produce fertilizer to meet the booming demand from agriculture.

— The Necropolis of Beth She’arim, a series of catacombs built from the 2nd century B.C. onward as a Jewish burial place. Located southeast of Haifa, Israel, the site features inscriptions in Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew.

— Scotland’s Forth Bridge, completed in 1890 to carry trains over the Forth River and still in use today.

— The ancient Greek and Roman settlements at Ephesus in Turkey, once the site of the Temple of Artemis — one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the World.’ A Christian chapel from the 5th century has also become a major pilgrimage site.

— The Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic System on the Central Mexican Plateau. Dating back to the 16th century, the canal system was conceived by a Franciscan friar and combines Roman hydraulics and traditional Mesoamerican construction techniques.

— Uruguay’s Fray Bentos industrial site set up in the 19th century to process and export meat to Europe.

— The Blue and John Crow Mountains, Jamaica’s first world heritage site. Located on the southeast of the island, they became a refuge for indigenous people and escaped African slaves during colonial times and are considered a biodiversity hotspot.

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Don’t remember the Alamo? Texas wants to change that

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It may be the most famous spot in Texas: Mission San Antonio de Valero, better known simply as The Alamo. The site where a rag-tag group of defenders, outnumbered in weapons and men, took on the Mexican Army in a pledge to fight ’till the last man standing.

After a 90-minute battle, it was over. The defenders all died, but the 1836 battle is considered a turning point in the war for Texas independence. Military historian William McWhorter said it “galvanized” fighters who, a month later, defeated Mexican forces at the Battle of San Jacinto, “crying ‘Remember the Alamo.'”

Problem is, these days, the Alamo is decidedly unmemorable. The site, a 4.2-acre complex in the heart of downtown San Antonio, captures visitors’ attention, on average, for less than eight minutes.

Texas wants to change that.

Under a newly signed budget bill, the state is stepping in to provide $32 million to revive the iconic facade and resurrect the heroic tale using 21st century technology and a master plan in partnership with the city.

“The Alamo is our top tourist destination, but honestly it’s underwhelming,” said Alamo Director Becky Bridges Dinnin. “We have not told the whole story. The Alamo defined the heart and soul of the West. It’s a snapshot of history.”

Dinnin envisions the “new” Alamo employing a range of technologies to tell the story, as well as living historians or characters role-playing the Alamo experience, similar to Colonial Williamsburg — along with a new center to house an expansive collection on permanent display.

‘The Alamo is our top tourist destination, but honestly it’s underwhelming. We have not told the whole story. The Alamo defined the heart and soul of the West.’

– Alamo Director Becky Bridges Dinnin

Along with gardens and the church, the existing compound encompasses the Long Barracks site, the oldest building in the complex and a visitor’s center built in the early 1930’s.

Yet space is so tight, Dinnin says there are 30,000 to 40,000 artifacts not on display, including Santa Anna’s sword and musician Phil Collins’ collection donated last fall of 200 Texas treasures. The Collins collection includes the original Jim Bowie knife and a rifle used by Davy Crockett. Bowie was a renowned knife fighter; Crockett was a Tennessee congressman and frontiersman inspired by the Texas cause. Both lost their lives during the battle.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill granting the funds on June 12.

“It’s no secret that Texans take great pride in the history of their state, and there is no symbol more evident of that pride than the Alamo,” Abbott said in a statement.  Along with bolstering the reputation of the site, Abbott said he hopes the money will “ultimately preserve the memory of those who so bravely fought for the freedom of the people of this great state.”

The investment comes as the General Land Office takes over day-to-day operations of the site from The Daughters of the Republic of Texas, a volunteer organization which has managed and maintained the site historically.

The funds are from a bill spearheaded by state Sen. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio.

“It’s a sacred site around the world,” said Menendez. “Unfortunately, the limestone is crumbling and unless the state acted for the preservation of the Alamo, I was afraid this unique Texas identifier would fall into disrepair.”

Founded in 1718, the site is one of the oldest churches in the nation and was the first hospital in the state.

Menendez said he hopes the funds will be used to “develop a museum-like atmosphere.”

The history inside the compound is undoubtedly rich. A recent exhibit included theWilliam B. Travis letters, which chronicle the countdown in which 182-257 Texians, (as they were known at the time) and Tejanos battled to hang on to the garrison during the 13-day siege.

“Our flag waves proudly from the walls,” writes Travis in a letter spirited across the plain by one of his cavalry. Another letter in the collection is addressed: “To The People of Texas and All Americans in The World.”

Once a formalized master plan is forged later this summer, the Alamo team hopes other collections will emerge.

Alamo historian and curator Richard Bruce Winders says the battle of the Alamo continues to resonate with a timeless message. “It demonstrated that this was a war that had to be won or Texas would be lost. ‘Remember the Alamo’ means to remember the courage, honor and dedication to duty of those who perished.”


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Scientists find blood in dinosaur fossil fragments


File photo – Children watch a life-sized Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur model in Vienna Feb. 7, 2014. (REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader)

The fossils may be in such poor shape that scientists are calling them “crap,” but the 75-million-year-old fragments are golden in another sense. A theropod claw, triceratops-like toe bone, and duck-billed dinosaur limb and ankle bones first unearthed in Canada 100 years ago appear to retain soft tissue, including red blood cells and collagen, scientists report this week in the journal Nature Communications.

This means countless other fossils around the world may as well, possibly helping solve age-old questions about dinosaur evolution, physiology, and so forth. It even raises the chance that at least trace DNA may survive as well.

“One morning, I turned on the microscope, increased the magnification, and thought, ‘Wait, that looks like blood!'” a materials scientist at Imperial College London tells the Guardian.

Though this isn’t the first time soft tissue appears to have been found in a fossil—a North Carolina State University researcher found collagen in a T.

rex leg in 2005—this marks the first time it’s survived in fossils that “are crap, very fragmentary … not the sorts of fossils you’d expect to have soft tissue,” a paleontologist at Imperial says.

The discovery was made using electron microscope techniques, and though the scientists are still working to verify their findings, they’re hopeful that traces of soft tissue in ancient fossils is the norm, not the exception, and that even dino DNA, however fragmented, may survive as well.

(Check out what was on the menu for this 95-million-year-old dinosaur.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: In ‘Crap’ Dinosaur Fossils, Scientists Strike Gold

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‘Saul and David’ proved to be authentic Rembrandt

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After a CSI-style investigation and restoration spanning eight years, the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague has declared that one of its star paintings really is by Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn.

The announcement should end years of is-it-or-isn’t-it debate about whether “Saul and David” was a real Rembrandt.
Researchers used advanced X-ray techniques to peer through several coats of paint that had been applied during previous restorations and establish that the original pigments were the same as those Rembrandt used in the 17th century. Paint sampling showed that the primer used was typical of Rembrandt’s studio in the 1650s and 1660s.

“We’ve taken off all these layers now you can actually see the original paint again and then there’s no doubt.”

– Restorer Carol Pottasch

For decades, there was no question. A former director of the museum in The Hague, Abraham Bredius, bought the painting more than a century ago, but in the late 1960s Rembrandt expert Horst Gerson cast doubt on who actually painted the Biblical scene of King Saul using a curtain to dab a tear from his eye while David, kneeling below the king, plucks the strings of a harp.

Restorer Carol Pottasch said it was no surprise that Gerson questioned who painted the oil-on-canvas work, because previous restorations had added so much paint.

“I guess that was the biggest problem that he faced. He couldn’t see a painting by Rembrandt because there was no painting to see,” she said Tuesday. “And now we’ve taken off all these layers now you can actually see the original paint again and then there’s no doubt.”

Now newly re-attributed to Rembrandt, the painstakingly restored canvas is the centerpiece of an exhibition opening Thursday and running through Sept. 13 that goes into forensic detail on how the museum unraveled the mystery of who painted “Saul and David.”

Part of the team that confirmed the attribution was renowned Rembrandt expert Ernst van de Wetering.

Like many crime-scene investigations, the Mauritshuis probe had to deal with a “victim” that had suffered much abuse. Cut up, painted over and faded over time, “Saul and David” even had part of another painting stuck into its top right-hand corner.

“Before the painting was treated, before it was cleaned, it became clear that the painting had been overpainted a number of times, that the painting had discolored, that its original dimensions had been changed in the past,” said Joris Dik of Delft Technical University, whose high-tech scans helped establish the painting’s authenticity and guide restorers. “It’s been really treated brutally, this painting, in multiple past restoration campaigns.”

Emilie Gordenker, the director of Mauritshuis, said the investigation turned up plenty of surprises. Peering through the paint, experts saw a canvas that almost resembled a jigsaw puzzle.

“The analysis helped us to determine that the painting is in fact made up of 15 different pieces of canvas; three main parts — the Saul, the David, and an insert of a copy of an old painting in the upper right corner plus strips all around the edges. So it’s a real patchwork,” she said.

It remains unclear why the painting was carved up in the past.

One result is that the painting now hanging in pride of place in the Mauritshuis exhibition — “Rembrandt? The case of Saul and David” — is smaller than Rembrandt’s original.
But, in keeping with the high-tech nature of the investigation, the museum also commissioned a 3D printed version of the painting in its original size that visitors can touch to get a true feel for the Dutch master’s brush strokes.

Director Gordenker said the museum did not set out to prove that the painting was indeed a Rembrandt.

“In fact, we only came to the conclusion about a month ago,” Gordenker said. “We would have been happy to do this show and come to the conclusion it wasn’t (a Rembrandt).”


Originally posted here:

Einstein’s personal letters discussing God, toys, geometry, other subjects being auctioned

  • FILE – This June, 1954, file photo shows renowned physicist Albert Einstein in Princeton, N.J. Einstein was a father who worried his son wasn’t taking his geometry studies seriously enough, and that he was indebted to a favorite uncle for giving him a toy steam engine when he was a boy, launching a lifelong interest in science. He also believed the infidelity of a friend’s spouse was no big deal. These and other reflections, including personal opinions on God and politics, are contained in 27 letters being offered by a private collector at auction this week. (AP Photo, File) (The Associated Press)

When he wasn’t busy scribbling out the theory of relativity, Albert Einstein seems to have spent a fair amount of time writing letters involving topics such as God, his son’s geometry studies, even a little toy steam engine an uncle gave him when he was a boy.

The Einstein Letters, which include more than two dozen missives, will go up for sale Thursday at the California-based auction house Profiles in History. Some were in English and others in German. Some were done in longhand, others on typewriters.

Amassed over decades by a private collector, the letters represent one of the largest caches of Einstein’s personal writings ever offered for sale.

But more than that, they give a rare look into Einstein’s thoughts when he wasn’t discussing complicated scientific theories with his peers, said Joseph Maddalena, founder of Profiles in History.

“We all know about what he accomplished, how he changed the world with the theory of relativity,” Maddalena said. “But these letters show the other side of the story. How he advised his children, how he believed in God.”

In one letter, Einstein urged one of his sons to get more serious about geometry. In another, he consoled a friend who recently discovered her husband’s infidelity. In still another to an uncle on his 70th birthday, Einstein recalled how the toy steam engine the uncle gave him years ago had prompted a lifelong interest in science.

On the issue of God, Einstein dismissed the widely held belief that he was an atheist.

“I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one,” he wrote to a man who corresponded with him on the subject twice in the 1940s. “You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist. … I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.”

Maddalena expects the 27 letters to fetch anywhere from $5,000 to as much as $40,000, for a total take ranging from $500,000 to $1 million. They are priceless, in his opinion, when it comes to having a greater understanding of the most brilliant physicist of the 20th century, the man whose theories ushered in the atomic age.

“These are certainly among the most important things I’ve ever handled,” Maddalena said. “This is not like a Babe Ruth autograph or a signed photo of Marilyn Monroe. These are historically significant.”

Originally Published here

Da Vinci discovered: Art sleuthing reveals Leonardo engraving


This engraving, created by Marcantonio Raimondi around 1505, may show Leonardo da Vinci playing an instrument called a lira da braccio. The man in the engraving was thought to be Orpheus, a musician in Greek mythology. (Image courtesy Cleveland Museum of Art, 21.4 x 17.3 cm. Dudley P. Allen Fund 1930.579)

A 500-year-old engraving may show Leonardo da Vinci playing a musical instrument called a lira da braccio. If verified, the engraving would represent just the third contemporary depiction of da Vinci (created while he was alive) still in existence.

An artist named Marcantonio Raimondi created the engraving in 1505. But only recently did Ross Duffin, a music professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, identify the man in the engraving as Leonardo da Vinci, publishing the findings in the magazine Cleveland Art.

“This is serious and stands some chance of being right,” said Martin Kemp, an emeritus professor of art history at Oxford University who has written extensively about da Vinci, but who was not involved in the new research. [5 Surprising Facts About Leonardo da Vinci’s Life]

Is this Leonardo?

When the engraving entered the Cleveland Museum of Art’s collection in 1930, scholars thought the man in it was Orpheus, a musician in Greek mythology who was said to be so talented he could charm animals with his music. As such, the engraving was dubbed “Orpheus Charming the Animals.”

However, Duffin said he came to realize the man was unlikely to be Orpheus and more likely to be da Vinci taking on the role of Orpheus. During the Renaissance, “one thing that is extremely consistent is that Orpheus is shown as a clean-shaven youth, the young husband of the tragic Eurydice,” wrote Duffin in the article.

The man depicted in the engraving is in his “late middle age, with a beard and centrally partedhair with long curls,” wrote Duffin, adding that da Vinci would’ve been in his early 50s when Marcantonio Raimondi created the image.

Duffin compared the engraving with a portrait of da Vinci drawn by Francesco Melzi, “who joined the 54-year-old Leonardo’s household as an assistant in 1506 and eventually became his principal heir,” Duffin wrote.

“Melzi’s portrait shows a man with a beard and long curls, and the very slight bump in his nose and the ridge above the brow are an excellent match for the long-haired, bearded [man] in the Marcantonio engraving.”

Most telling is the instrument the man in the engraving is playing. Duffin identified it as a lira da braccio, a bowed string instrument that da Vinci is known to have played.

In 1550, a few decades after da Vinci’s death, a historian named Giorgio Vasari wrote of da Vinci’s great musical skill. In 1494, “Leonardo was led in great repute to the Duke of Milan, who took much delight in the sound of the lira, so that he might play it,” Vasari wrote in his 1550 book “Le vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architettori” (translated).

“And Leonardo brought with him that instrument which he had made with his own hands, in great part of silver, in order that the harmony might be of greater volume and more sonorous in tone, with which he surpassed all the musicians who had come together there to play,” Vasari wrote. “Besides this, he was the best improviser in verse of his day.”

Problem with identification

If the engraving does indeed portray da Vinci, the question becomes how Marcantonio Raimondi met him.

“The problems are of time and place,” Kemp wrote in the email. “Marcantonio was working in Bologna at this early stage of his career, and there is no obvious way they would have met.”

At this stage, I would say that it is temptingly possible but unproven,” Kemp added.

However, Duffin said the two men might have met in Milan in 1506-1507 during a production of “Orfeo,”an opera on the Orpheus myth. If this is the case, then Leonardo himself could have been playing Orpheus in the opera, Duffin said. Another possibility is that the two artists met in 1509, when Leonardo visited Florence. Or perhaps the two never met, and Marcantonio Raimondi used a portrait as a reference when engraving da Vinci’s features, Duffin added.

“We do not know for certain whether Marcantonio crossed paths with Leonardo, but his engraving of ‘Orpheus Charming the Animals’ seems clearly to be an homage, intended to honor the musical skill of Leonardo da Vinci by depicting him with the instrument he was known to play incomparably, and which he shared with the greatest of all musicians.”

Copyright 2015 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Originally posted here :

Chair in which Lincoln was shot center stage on anniversary

Lincoln Assassination Tourism-1.jpg

March 23, 2015: The chair in which President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865. (The Associated Press)

Jeff Buczkiewicz stood before the chair Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when he was assassinated 150 years ago. He peered silently into the glass-enclosed case at the rocking chair, then snapped pictures for posterity.

“You just get drawn into these things,” said Buczkiewicz, 47, who came from suburban Chicago with his family to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. “It is a tragic part of our history and our country. I think it’s important to take it all in.”

Taking in objects from the final hours of two important American lives is a major draw to the museum. In addition to the worn, red chair Lincoln was sitting in when he was shot in Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., in 1865, the Henry Ford also owns the limousine President John F. Kennedy was riding in when he was fatally shot in Dallas nearly a century later. Museum officials say the chair and car are among the most visited artifacts in the museum, along with the bus Rosa Parks rode in when she refused to give up her seat to a white rider and helped spark the civil rights movement.

Next week, visitors will get an even closer look at the Lincoln chair: It will be removed from its enclosure and displayed in an open plaza area as part of the museum’s observance of the assassination’s sesquicentennial on April 15 — a day of free admission. Two days earlier, it will be onstage when renowned historian and Lincoln expert Doris Kearns Goodwin delivers a sold-out lecture at The Henry Ford.

Goodwin, author of “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” told The Associated Press that the chair will offer an extra “dimension” to her words and the experience of those in the room.

“There’s an intimacy to it that catapults you back in time,” she said. “And hopefully, along with that, you’re not just thinking of the death but the life that made it worthwhile.”

Lincoln’s chair has been part of the museum started by pioneering automaker Henry Ford — no relation to the theater-owning Ford family — since its founding 85 years ago. The government removed it from the theater and held it as evidence, and it ended up at the Smithsonian Institution. The wife of a theater co-owner petitioned to reclaim it, then sold it at auction to an agent working for Henry Ford.

Henry Ford also bought the Logan County Courthouse where Lincoln practiced law in Illinois in the 1840s and moved it to the outdoor area next to his museum known as Greenfield Village. For decades, the theater chair was housed in that courthouse.

Around 1980, the chair was placed inside the museum, where it’s now part of the “With Liberty and Justice for All” exhibit.

“Lincoln was one of Henry Ford’s heroes — when he decided he wanted to have this village, he wanted to collect Lincoln stuff as an educational tool,” said curator Donna Braden. “The courthouse is pretty much the first thing Henry Ford acquired related to Lincoln and the chair came soon after.”

Many visitors wonder whether dark spots on the back of the chair are Lincoln’s blood. Not so, say museum workers: The stains are oil from other people’s heads who sat in the chair before that fateful night when Lincoln was shot by a pro-Confederacy actor, John Wilkes Booth.

Steve Harris, a historic presenter at the museum, tells passers-by that Lincoln’s head would have been positioned much higher than the stain because he was 6 feet 4 inches tall (1.93 meters).

Milestone anniversaries seem to add to the impact of objects like the chair and limo. About 8,000 people visited the limo on Nov. 22, 2013, a free-admission day marking the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, so the chair is likely to draw plenty of visitors on the Lincoln anniversary.

“It really is about the power of the artifact,” said Patricia Mooradian, president of The Henry Ford, as the entire history attraction is known. “It’s less about the artifact itself than the symbolic nature of the artifact that represents a great paradigm change in the history of our country.”

Buskiewicz has also visited Dealey Plaza in Dallas where Kennedy was assassinated. “You just have to try to take it in when you’re in those areas,” he said, but he wonders “why we gravitate” toward places and things associated with these types of events.

Goodwin, whose book helped inspire Steven Spielberg’s movie, “Lincoln,” says that standing before iconic yet everyday objects provides a deep experience that transcends the moment that made them famous.

“In some ways, it’s more familiar when it’s a chair, a bus or a limo,” she said. “There’s something about the tangibility of these things.”


If You Go…

HENRY FORD MUSEUM: 20900 Oakwood Boulevard, Dearborn, Michigan; or 800-835-5237. Daily 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Adults, $20; children 5-12, $15.


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