This is John F. Ptak's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following John F. Ptak's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
John F. Ptak
From 1985-2003 I operated a bricks-and-mortar bookstore dedicated to the history of science. The stores were located primarily in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., with a short excursion to Old Town Alexandria, Va., and a warehouse in Silver Spring Maryland. The store's website has been in operation in one form or another since 1998, and it is now the principle venue for business. The blog associated with the online store is pretty mature at this point, with about 1.5 million words and thousands of posts, for good or ill.
Interests: art, math, history of science and technology; connections between/among physics, literature; the found-surreal; outsider art and logic; discrete ephemera.
Recent Activity
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Post 2789 This extraordinary photograph shows prisoners of war taken by the German army near Chauny-Coucy-le-Chateau and published in the unblinking photographic history of WWI by Hermann Rex called Der Weltkrieg in Seiner Rauhen Wirklichtkeit (printed... Continue reading
Posted 3 hours ago at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post I don’t know why, but I think that I’ve never looked at any lists of the boats and small ships used in Operation Dynamo, the rescue/evacuation efforts of Britain to relieve the surrounded forces... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post Here's an interesting collection of bits that I just came across in the October 18, 1883 issue of Nature, showing the speed of things. Some of the examples are quite charming, showing the velocities... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post This interesting image appeared in the Illustrated London News for 21 May 1938 (p 897) and it shows "the Physical Laboratory of the Academy of Sciences in Paris" in 1711, rendered by Sebastian Leclerc... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post After reading my quick post from yesterday (on Oswiecim, Camp of Death, March 1944, a very early work published on the Holocaust) my friend Andy Moursund made several good points on other pieces of... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Post 2788 I stopped by my old friend the amazing Andy Moursund’s fantastic Flickr site, where in just the first 30 seconds or so I needed to stop and follow Andy’s lead on an astonishing book.... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post This is an excellent example of appreciating images in context. The photograph seemed line an ordinary image of a soldier peering through a periscope on action ahead of his trench, in some miserable battlefield,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2019 at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post I found this fine bird's-eye view in the 8 August 1901 issue of Scientific American (the lower image is what I'm referring to). It is a low-level oblique that shows about the entirety of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2019 at JF Ptak Science Books
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post/Reference Post I was having an interesting conversation with my friend, Andy Moursund, who asked if we are better off now or 50/60 years ago. That was the basic premise from which MANY qualifications were... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2019 at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post John Roy Carlson (the pseudonym of Arthur Derounien, 1909-1991) was an investigative journalist and during WWII he went undercover and infiltrated many of the right wing/fascist/"patriot" groups operating in the U.S. The result of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 3, 2019 at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post I've lost track of the count of the sub-series on "Ships in the Skyline" in which new buildings etc. are measured against commonly-known objects, including large ocean liners. The enormous ship as measuring stick... Continue reading
Posted Jan 3, 2019 at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post Jews in Nazi Europe, February 1933 to November 1941; a study prepared by the Institute of Jewish affairs, submitted to the Inter-American Jewish conference, November 23-24-25, 1941, Baltimore, Md., .Institute of Jewish Affairs.Institute of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 3, 2019 at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Post 2787 In the long history of finding the Center of Things is the subset (or overset) of finding the center of the galaxy (which until the 1920's was the universe) or of creation. The center... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2019 at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Science Books Post 2786 (Part of, yes, the History of Holes series) Holes and Dots (and anti-Dots) and Circles all have some longish threads running through this blog, though where they are actually running to is unknown at this... Continue reading
Posted Jan 1, 2019 at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post (Another entry in the neglected "Strange Things in the Sky" category.) The story "The Giant Atom" in Startling Stories was pretty striking to me, as it was published in December 19431 and (I thought)... Continue reading
Posted Jan 1, 2019 at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post This is a minor but very compelling addition to the "History of Lines" series on this blog--an advertisement for Daimler-Benz, reminding people that they not only made automobiles, but also were making contributions to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 27, 2018 at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Post 2785 Among my favorite places in Washington, D.C.--a place where I lived for 29 years--are its cemeteries; in particular Rock Creek Cemetery, but more specifically, Congressional Cemetery. Congressional is a big place, tucked away, sort... Continue reading
Posted Dec 25, 2018 at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post The American soldier in this new service photo is having a good hard look at the business end of a captured German Minenwerfer ("mine launcher", which was a short-range mortar), .a three-inch field gun... Continue reading
Posted Dec 24, 2018 at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books This quote is from a speech by (Rabi) Israel Goldstein1 as head of the Zionist Organization of America appeal and was made in 19442 addressing the British White Paper of 1939 on Palestine and allowing Jews... Continue reading
Posted Dec 24, 2018 at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post This is the U.S. Army mail depot at Regents Park, London, braced for and under siege by Christmastime mail in 1917. It strikes me that there may be a million items in this photo--at... Continue reading
Posted Dec 24, 2018 at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post The use of finger prints in identification is fairly old, used in Asia and India long before it became a popular practice in the West. Also it seems that finger prints as forensic instruments... Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2018 at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post I recall, I think, that this was the largest photograph of war printed during World War I, looking to be something on the order of 8 x 16 feet or so. This photo of... Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2018 at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post Here's and interesting and swerve-y chart of all of history, featured in the pages of the Scientific American for October, 1925 (pg 235). It has that certain attractiveness that is so welcomed in the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2018 at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
Phillippe Labbe (1607-1677), a contemporary of the savant's savant, Athanasius Kircher, and who was himself a prodigious polymath, produced this fantastic piece of scholarship, the Bibliotheca Bibliothecarum...accedit bibliotheca nummaria. He was a member of the Society of Jesus, like Kircher... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2018 at JF Ptak Science Books
Image
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post Here's a series of three photographs relating to carrier pigeons in WWI. The first is a magnificent photograph of a memorial to a carrier pigeon named Auguste, a famous flyer who evidently performed invaluable... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2018 at JF Ptak Science Books