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Science & Mathematics

The Museum's collections hold thousands of objects related to chemistry, biology, physics, astronomy, and other sciences. Instruments range from early American telescopes to lasers. Rare glassware and other artifacts from the laboratory of Joseph Priestley, the discoverer of oxygen, are among the scientific treasures here. A Gilbert chemistry set of about 1937 and other objects testify to the pleasures of amateur science. Artifacts also help illuminate the social and political history of biology and the roles of women and minorities in science.

The mathematics collection holds artifacts from slide rules and flash cards to code-breaking equipment. More than 1,000 models demonstrate some of the problems and principles of mathematics, and 80 abstract paintings by illustrator and cartoonist Crockett Johnson show his visual interpretations of mathematical theorems.

"Science & Mathematics - Overview" showing 2127 items.

Page 3 of 213

## Felsenthal A-10 Protractor and Map Coordinator

- Description
- This clear plastic semicircular protractor is divided by ten mils and marked by hundreds from 100 to 3,100 in both the clockwise and counterclockwise directions. It is also divided by single degrees and marked by tens from 0° to 180° in both directions. Diagonal lines extend some of the measurement markings out to the edges of the rectangle surrounding the protractor. Pinholes are at the origin point and in the upper left and right corners. The interior of the protractor has cutout stencils for a circle, triangle, square, and two oblong shapes. The middle also contains scales placed at right angles to each other. They are divided and marked by hundreds from 1,000 to 2[00]. The scales are labeled: 1:21120.

- The left edge of the rectangular plastic piece is divided by tenths of an inch and marked by ones from 1 to 3. Inside the 3-inch ruler is a scale for mils divided by hundreds and marked by thousands from 5,000 to 1,000. The scale continues on the top of the rectangle, again divided by hundreds and marked by thousands from 5,000 to 1,000. The scale is labeled: 1:62500. On the right side of the top is a scale labeled: 1:20,000. It is divided and marked by hundreds from 1,000 to 2[00]. This scale also repeats on the right side of the rectangle. On the right edge of the rectangle, there is a scale divided by millimeters and marked by ones from 1 to 7. It is labeled: METRIC.

- The bottom of the protractor bears a scale divided by hundreds and marked by thousands from 1,000 to 8,000. It is labeled: 1:62500. The bottom edge has a second scale, divided by hundreds and marked by five hundreds from 500 to 3,000. It is labeled: 1:21120. The name of the instrument is printed on the very bottom edge: MAP COORDINATOR AND PROTRACTOR - A-10. Donor Ben Rau dated the object to 1942.

- See also 1977.1141.01, 1977.1141.02, 1977.1141.03, 1977.1141.05, 1977.1141.08, 1977.1141.09, 1977.1141.10, 1977.1141.11, 1977.1141.12, 1977.1141.18, 1977.1141.19, 1977.1141.20, 1977.1141.22, 1977.1141.23, 1977.1141.24, 1977.1141.30, and 1977.1141.39.

- Location
- Currently not on view

- date attributed by donor
- 1942

- maker
- Felsenthal

- ID Number
- 1977.1141.21

- accession number
- 1977.1141

- catalog number
- 336405

- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

## Kern Semicircular Protractor

- Description
- This German silver semicircular protractor bears the distinctive italic engraved numbers of Kern & Co. of Aarau, Switzerland. It is graduated by quarter-degrees and marked by tens from 10 to 170 both from left to right and from right to left. There are no other marks. The lower edge of the protractor is beveled, with a groove at the origin point.

- Ruth E. Crownfield, the widow of Albert C. Crownfield Jr., a mechanical engineer from Mohawk, N.Y., donated this protractor in 1978. The instrument is quite tarnished and scratched, suggesting Crownfield used it frequently. Similar protractors cost $3.50 in the first decade of the 20th century and $4.50 in 1936.

- See also ID numbers MA*247966 and 1977.0460.02.

- References: “(Product No.) 1248,”
*Catalogue of Keuffel & Esser Co.*(New York, 1909), 172;*Catalogue of Keuffel & Esser Co.*(New York, 1936), 201.

- Location
- Currently not on view

- date made
- early 20th century

- maker
- Kern & Co.

- ID Number
- 1978.2291.01

- accession number
- 1978.2291

- catalog number
- 336875

- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

## Clark Refracting Telescope

- Description
- Alvan Clark & Sons were the leading telescope opticians in the United States in the second half of the 19th century. The firm came to prominence in 1865 when their 18½-inch refractor, then the largest in the world, was installed in the Dearborn Observatory in Chicago. Other notable achievements included the 26-inch telescope installed in the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., in 1873; the 30-inch objective lens installed in the Imperial Russian Observatory at Pulkowa in 1883; the 36-inch objective lens installed in the Lick Observatory in California in 1887; and the 40-inch objective lens installed in the Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, in 1897.

- The Clarks also made many smaller instruments for investigation, education, and recreation. This example is marked "Alvan Clark & Sons 1894 Cambridgeport, Mass." It has a nickel-plated brass tube assembly, an objective lens of 5 inches aperture, an equatorial mount, and a wooden tripod.

- Ref: Deborah Jean Warner and Robert B. Ariail,
*Alvan Clark & Sons. Artists in Optics*(Washington, D.C., 1996).

- Location
- Currently not on view

- date made
- 1894

- maker
- Alvan Clark & Sons

- ID Number
- 1979.1017.01

- accession number
- 1979.1017

- catalog number
- 79.1017.1

- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

## Painting -

*Proof of the Pythagorean Theorem (Euclid)*- Description
- The Pythagorean theorem states that in any right triangle, the square of the side opposite the right angle (the hypotenuse), is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. This painting depicts the “windmill” figure found in Proposition 47 of Book I of Euclid’s
*Elements*. Although the method of the proof depicted was written about 300 BC and is credited to Euclid, the theorem is named for Pythagoras, who lived 250 years earlier. It was known to the Babylonians centuries before then. However, knowing a theorem is different from demonstrating it, and the first surviving demonstration of this theorem is found in Euclid’s*Elements*.

- Crockett Johnson based his painting on a diagram in Ivor Thomas’s article on Greek mathematics in
*The World of Mathematics*, edited by James R. Newman (1956), p. 191. The proof is based on a comparison of areas. Euclid constructed a square on the hypotenuse BΓ of the right triangle ABΓ. The altitude of this triangle originating at right angle A is extended across this square. Euclid also constructed squares on the two shorter sides of the right triangle. He showed that the square on side AB was of equal area to the rectangle of sides BΔ and Δ;Λ. Similarly, the area of the square on side AΓ was of equal area to the rectangle of sides EΓ and EΛ. But then the square of the hypotenuse of the right triangle equals the sum of the squares of the shorter sides, as desired.

- Crockett Johnson executed the right triangle in the neutral, yet highly contrasting, hues of white and black. Each square area that rests on the sides of the triangle is painted with a combination of one primary color and black. This draws the viewer’s attention to the areas that complete Euclid’s proof of the Pythagorean theorem.

*Proof of the Pythagorean Theorem*, painting #2 in the series, is one of Crockett Johnson’s earliest geometric paintings. It was completed in 1965 and is marked: CJ65. It also is signed on the back: Crockett Johnson 1965 (/) PROOF OF THE PYTHAGOREAN THEOREM (/) (EUCLID).

- Location
- Currently not on view

- date made
- 1965

- referenced
- Euclid

- painter
- Johnson, Crockett

- ID Number
- 1979.1093.01

- catalog number
- 1979.1093.01

- accession number
- 1979.1093

- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

## Painting -

*Reciprocation*- Description
- In this oil or acrylic painting on masonite, Crockett Johnson illustrates a theorem presented by the Greek mathematician Pappus of Alexandria (3rd century AD). Suppose that one chooses three points on each of two line straight segments that do not intersect. Join each point to the two more distant points on the other lines. These lines meet in three points, which, according to the theorem, are themselves on a straight line.

- The inspiration for this painting probably came from a figure in the article "The Great Mathematicians" by Herbert W. Turnbull found in the artist's copy of James R. Newman's
*The World of Mathematics*(p. 112). This figure is annotated. It shows points A, B, and C on one line segment and D, E, and F on another line segment. Line segments AE and DB, AF and DC, and BF and EC intersect at 3 points (X, Y, and Z respectively), which are collinear. Turnbull's figure and Johnson's painting include nine points and nine lines that are arranged such that three of the points lie on each line and three of the lines lie on each point. If the words "point" and "line" are interchanged in the preceding sentence, its meaning holds true. This is the "reciprocation," or principle of duality, to which the painting's title refers.

- Crockett Johnson chose a brown and green color scheme for this painting. The main figure, which is executed in seven tints and shades of brown, contains twelve triangles and two quadrilaterals. The background, which is divided by the line that contains the points X, Y, and Z, is executed in two shades of green. This color choice highlights Pappus' s theorem by dramatizing the line created by the points of intersection of AE and DB, AF and DC, and BC and EC. There wooden frame painted black.

*Reciprocation*is painting #6 in this series of mathematical paintings. It was completed in 1965 and is signed: CJ65.

- Location
- Currently not on view

- date made
- 1965

- referenced
- Pappus

- painter
- Johnson, Crockett

- ID Number
- 1979.1093.02

- catalog number
- 1979.1093.02

- accession number
- 1979.1093

- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

## Painting -

*Perspective (Alberti)*- Description
- Artists used methods of projecting lines developed by the Italian humanist Leon Battista Alberti and his successors to create a sense of perspective in their paintings. In contrast, Crockett Johnson made these methods the subject of his painting. He followed a diagram in William M. Ivins Jr.,
*Art & Geometry: A Study in Space Intuitions*(1964 edition), p. 76. The figure in Crockett Johnson’s copy of the book is annotated. This painting has a triangle in the center that is divided by a diagonal line, with the left half painted a darker shade than the right. Inside the triangle is one large quadrilateral that is divided into four rows of quadrilaterals that are painted various shades of red, purple, blue, and white.

- To represent three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional canvas, an artist must render forms and figures in proper linear perspective. In 1435 Alberti wrote a treatise entitled
*De Pictura*(*On Painting*) in which he outlined a process for creating an effective painting through the use of one-point perspective. Investigation of the mathematical concepts underlying the rules of perspective led to the development of a branch of mathematics called projective geometry.

- Alberti’s method (as modified by Pelerin in the early 17th century) and Crockett Johnson’s painting begin with the selection of a vanishing point (point C in the figure from Ivins). The eye of the viewer is assumed to be across from and on the same level as C. The eye looks through the vertical painting at a picture that appears to continue behind the canvas. To portray on the canvas what the eye sees, the artist locates point A on the horizon (the horizontal through C). The artist then draws the diagonal from A to the lower right-hand corner of the painting (point I). The separation of the angle ICH into smaller, equal angles creates lines that delineate parallel lines in the picture plane. The horizontal lines that create small quadrilaterals, and thus the checkerboard effect, are determined by the intersections of the lines from C with the diagonals FH and EI.

- This painting, #7 in the series, dates from 1966. It is signed: CJ66. It is marked on the back: Crockett Johnson 1966 (/) PERSPECTIVE (ALBERTI). It is of acrylic or oil paint on masonite, and has a wooden frame.

- Location
- Currently not on view

- date made
- 1966

- referenced
- Alberti, Leon Battista

- painter
- Johnson, Crockett

- ID Number
- 1979.1093.03

- catalog number
- 1979.1093.03

- accession number
- 1979.1093

- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

## Painting -

*Squares of a 3-4-5 Triangle in Scalene Perspective (Dürer)*- Description
- This painting, while similar in subject to the painting entitled
*Perspective (Alberti)*, depicts three planes perpendicular to the canvas. These three planes provide a detailed, three-dimensional view of space through the use of perspective. Three vanishing points are implied (though not shown) in the painting, one in each of the three planes.

- The painting shows a 3-4-5 triangle surrounded by squares proportional in number to the square of the side. That is, the horizontal plane contains nine squares, the vertical plane contains sixteen squares, and the oblique plane, which represents the hypotenuse of the 3-4-5 triangle, contains twenty-five squares. This explains the extension of the vertical and oblique planes and reminds the viewer of the Pythagorean theorem. Thus, Crockett Johnson has cleverly shown the illustration of two of his other paintings;
*Squares of a 3-4-5 Triangle (Pythagoras)*and*Proof of the Pythagorean Theorem (Euclid)*, in perspective; hence the title of the painting.

- The title of this painting points to the role of the German artist Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) in creating ways of representing three-dimensional figures in a plane. Dürer is particularly remembered for a posthumously published treatise on human proportion. In his book entitled
*The Life and Art of Albrecht Dürer*, art historian Erwin Panofsky explains that the work of Dürer with perspective demonstrated that the field was not just an element of painting and architecture, but an important branch of mathematics.

- This construction may well have originated with Crockett Johnson. The oil painting was completed in 1965 and is signed: CJ65. It is #8 in his series of mathematical paintings.

- Location
- Currently not on view

- date made
- 1965

- referenced
- Duerer, Albrecht

- painter
- Johnson, Crockett

- ID Number
- 1979.1093.04

- catalog number
- 1979.1093.04

- accession number
- 1979.1093

- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

## Painting -

*Mystic Hexagon (Pascal)*- Description
- This painting is based on a theorem generalized by the French mathematician Blaise Pascal in 1640, when he was sixteen years old. When the opposite sides of a irregular hexagon inscribed in a circle are extended, they meet in three points. Pappus, writing in the 4th century AD, had shown in his
*Mathematical Collections*that these three points lie on the same line. In the painting, the circle and cream-colored hexagon are at the center, with the sectors associated with different pairs of lines shown in green, blue and gray. The three points of intersection are along the top; the line that would join them is not shown. Pascal generalized the theorem to include hexagons inscribed in any conic section, not just a circle. Hence the figure came to be known as "Pascal’s hexagon" or, to use Pascal’s terminology, the "mystic hexagon." Pascal’s work in this area is known primarily from notes on his manuscripts taken by the German mathematician Gottfried Leibniz after his death.

- There is a discussion of Pascal’s hexagon in an article by Morris Kline on projective geometry published in James R. Newman's
*World of Mathematics*(1956). A figure shown on page 629 of this work may have been the basis of Crockett Johnson's painting, although it is not annotated in his copy of the book.

- The oil or acrylic painting on masonite is signed on the bottom right: CJ65. It is marked on the back: Crockett Johnson (/) "Mystic" Hexagon (/) (Pascal). It is #10 in the series.

- References: Carl Boyer and Uta Merzbach,
*A History of Mathematics*(1991), pp. 359–62.

- Florian Cajori,
*A History of Elementary Mathematics*(1897), 255–56.

- Morris Bishop,
*Pascal: The Life of a Genius*(1964), pp. 11, 81–7.

- date made
- 1965

- referenced
- Pascal, Blaise

- painter
- Johnson, Crockett

- ID Number
- 1979.1093.05

- catalog number
- 1979.1093.05

- accession number
- 1979.1093

- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

## Painting -

*Conic Curve (Apollonius)*- Description
- In ancient times, the Greek mathematician Apollonius of Perga (about 240–190 BC) made extensive studies of conic sections, the curves formed when a plane slices a cone. Many centuries later, the French mathematician and philosopher René Descartes (1596–1650) showed how the curves studied by Apollonius might be related to points on a straight line. In particular, he introduced an equation in two variables expressing points on the curve in terms of points on the line. An article by H. W. Turnbull entitled "The Great Mathematicians" found in
*The World of Mathematics*by James R. Newman discussed the interconnections between Apollonius and Descartes, and apparently was the basis of this painting. The copy of this book in Crockett Johnson's library is very faintly annotated on this page. Turnbull shows variable length ON, with corresponding points P on the curve.

- The analytic approach to geometry taken by Descartes would be greatly refined and extended in the course of the seventeenth century.

- Johnson executed his painting in white, purple, and gray. Each section is painted its own shade. This not only dramatizes the coordinate plane but highlights the curve that extends from the middle of the left edge to the top right corner of the painting.

*Conic Curve*, an oil or acrylic painting on masonite, is #11 in the series. It was completed in 1966 and is signed: CJ66. It is marked on the back: Crockett Johnson 1966 (/) CONIC CURVE (APOLLONIUS). It has a wooden frame.

- Location
- Currently not on view

- date made
- 1966

- referenced
- Apollonius of Perga

- painter
- Johnson, Crockett

- ID Number
- 1979.1093.06

- catalog number
- 1979.1093.06

- accession number
- 1979.1093

- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

## Painting -

*Curve Tangents (Fermat)*- Description
- The French lawyer and mathematician Pierre de Fermat (1601–1665) was one of the first to develop a systematic way to find the straight line which best approximates a curve at any point. This line is called the tangent line. This painting shows a curve with two horizontal tangent lines. Assuming that the curve is plotted against a horizontal axis, one line passes through a maximum of a curve, the other through a minimum. An article by H. W. Turnbull, "The Great Mathematicians," published in
*The World of Mathematics*by James R. Newman, emphasized how Fermat's method might be applied to find maximum and minimum values of a curve plotted above a horizontal line (see his figures 14 and 16). Crockett Johnson owned and read the book, and annotated the first figure. The second figure more closely resembles the painting.

- Computing the maximum and minimum value of functions by finding tangents became a standard technique of the differential calculus developed by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz later in the 17th century.

*Curve Tangents*is painting #12 in the Crockett Johnson series. It was executed in oil on masonite, completed in 1966, and is signed: CJ66. The painting has a wood and metal frame.

- Location
- Currently not on view

- date made
- 1966

- referenced
- Fermat, Pierre de

- painter
- Johnson, Crockett

- ID Number
- 1979.1093.07

- catalog number
- 1979.1093.07

- accession number
- 1979.1093

- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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