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tag: geography

The Atlas Obscura

Athanasius Kircher was a 17th century German scholar, priest, inventor and polymath, whose life was spent harvesting the world's knowledge and republishing prodigious amounts of texts on his research (in total, 44 books and countless other manuscripts). When not designing early machines, theorizing the existence of disease-causing micro-organisms or lowering himself down into active volcanos, he could be found producing magnificently detailed and beautiful illustrations of his ideas.

Athanasius Kircher: illustration of musical amplification

One such idea was the notion of a parabolic horn which could amplify sound waves for the enjoyment of listeners - a thought which eventually proved exceedingly popular.

A collection of Kircher's illustrations has recently been published in beautiful hardback form. Online, Stanford offer a huge archive of his works; unfortunately, it's locked away in the widely unsupported DjVu format, with buggy browser plugins not helping proceedings. Better is this Flickr stream, which collects a great deal of images in decent resolution.

Until recently, there existed an Athanasius Kircher Society, which collected together esoterica of Kircher's ilk. Now defunct, a new and equally exciting endeavour has risen in its place: Atlas Obscura, a compendium of the world's wonders, curiosities and esoterica. Kind of like a geographical Taryn Simon, it's a distributed, visually rich investigation into weird locations around the world.

Die Weltmaschine

International Banana Club

Lowell Observatory