Free NASA travel posters? I’m there!

Free NASA travel posters? I’m there!

Did you know NASA created travel posters? I didn’t until today.  Check out the artwork created by the Jet Propulsion Lab team. The hi-rez  “Visions of the Future” series is available to download in pdf and tiff format. And they are HUGE.

Travel posters for cosmos  – illustrator Liz Barrios De La Torre

Scan of NASA travel poster for Europa - illustrator Liz Barrios De La Torre

Travel to Europa

They print out @ 30″ x 20″, so you might need to trot down to the local print house to make a poster sized copy, but, the quality is worth it. Of course you can always shrink them down, but the posters deserve a full size printing and framing. The series also makes kickass wallpaper, by the way.  Under each poster is a small write up about the planet and NASA’s work regarding it.

 Astonishing geology and the potential to host the conditions for simple life make Jupiter’s moon Europa a fascinating destination for future exploration. Beneath its icy surface, Europa is believed to conceal a global ocean of salty liquid water twice the volume of Earth’s oceans. Tugging and flexing from Jupiter’s gravity generates enough heat to keep the ocean from freezing.
On Earth, wherever we find water, we find life. What will NASA’s Europa mission find when it heads for this intriguing moon in the 2020s?
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
www.jpl.nasa.gov

Get frosted on Saturn’s moon – illustrator Joby Harris

Visit Titan and be awed - another travel poster from NASA - illustrator Joby Harris

Visit Titan and be awed!

Frigid and alien, yet similar to our own planet billions of years ago, Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, has a thick atmosphere, organic-rich chemistry and a surface shaped by rivers and lakes of liquid ethane and methane. Cold winds sculpt vast regions of hydrocarbon-rich dunes. There may even be cryovolcanoes of cold liquid water. NASA’s Cassini orbiter was designed to peer through Titan’s perpetual haze and unravel the mysteries of this planet-like moon.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
www.jpl.nasa.gov

There are 15 in the series, and again, free to download and enjoy.  An absolute must is a visit to the “learn more” page to see the thinking involved in the creation process.  They have a great retro, 1950s  feel to them. The colours, design and content made me immediately flash onto my all time favourite sci fi movie  Forbidden Planet (1956) and travel posters of the era.  Turns out there’s a reason: “As for the style, we gravitated to the style of the old posters the WPA created for the national parks. There’s a nostalgia for that era that just feels good. David Delgado, creative strategy”.

Movie poster from Forbidden Planet 1956 - courtesy MGM

Forbidden Planet 1956 – courtesy MGM

Travel poster "Visit the Pacific Northwest" from 1950s

Train travel poster from the 50s

See what I mean – colours, style, fonts and concept certainly evoke the era.  It would have been amazing to sit in on the creative process.  Check out all the posters at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab’s Vision of the Future page – https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/visions-of-the-future/ You can download individual posters (each about 200megs in size) or download all of them at once.

In honour of Exploding Battery Week – the Daniell Battery

In honour of Exploding Battery Week – the Daniell Battery

Every time you fire up your phone, stop and offer thanks to English chemist and all-around polymath, John Frederick Daniell (1790–1845), inventor of the Daniell Battery. He’s the dapper fellow to the in the picture below. No, he didn’t design the first battery, he was second, but his design has been described as the first practical battery. Alessandro Volta (volt … volta … get it?) developed the first battery.

John Frederick Daniell, inventor of the Daniell Battery

Photo of John Frederick Daniell British chemist

John Frederick Daniell, British chemist

Daniell was a typical 19th century intellectual – a busy, active mind that wasn’t constrained by one discipline – chemistry, physics, meteorological, climatology and a little bit of geology thrown in.  He started his career working at a sugar works where he developed a technique for clarifying sugar.  He later went on to patent his idea. I tried to find the patent but had no luck. Anyone want to fund a trip to the UK archives? I think I could spend a lifetime there looking at patents.

Anyway, while working at the sugar plant, he attended lectures at the Great Windmill Street Anatomical School in London.  It was there that his interest in chemistry was encouraged.  He sat in on lectures by William Thomas Brande, chemist, author of the Manual of Chemistry and later professor at the Royal Institute. The Great Windmill had a powerful influence on Daniell’s passion for chemistry. While there, he formed a lasting friendship with both Brande and Michael Faraday – a name that should ring a bell or two with most of you.

 Illustration of John Frederick Daniell and Michael Faraday from Sketches of the Royal Society and Royal Society Club by Sir John Barrow

John Frederick Daniell and Michael Faraday from Sketches of the Royal Society and Royal Society Club by Sir John Barrow

By 1830, Danielle had established a name for himself in the fields of chemistry and meteorology.  His work and influential friends (Samuel Taylor Coleridge among them) helped Daniell obtain the position of first professor of chemistry with the new King’s College London where he could devote all his efforts to science and not on the mundane matter of working to support family. While at King’s College, Danielle worked on advancing Volta’s battery, developing a battery that would be named the Daniell Cell.

So just what was the Daniell Cell? Let’s see if I can get this right the first time. The Daniell Cell was pretty much a copper pot stuffed with a copper sulfate solution. That pot was put into another pot made of earthenware rather than metal. It in turn was filled with sulfuric acid. A zinc electrode was put into the mix to create a reaction. By building on the works of both Volta and Faraday, Daniell created a battery that produced an electric current that was stable and eliminated the pesky and dangerous hydrogen bubble problem that formed with Volta’s model.

Here’s a Daniell Battery Cell:

Photo of an early Danielle Battery 1836

Photo of an early Danielle Battery 1836

And here’s another one:

Photo of an early Daniell Battery 1836 courtesy University of Malta

Photo of an early Daniell Battery 1836 courtesy University of Malta

Looks a bit … er … dangerous. Not to mention not very portable, but then that wasn’t a necessity.  I don’t think modern Health & Safety would be impressed.  But here’s the thing, Daniell’s ground-breaking invention fueled a boom in communications.  It was the building block for the expansion of the new telegraphic network that snaked throughout both the UK and US and the new electrical industry until well into the 1870s when newer developments made the Daniell obsolete.  The chemical reaction in the battery sparked the currents that drove the burgeoning communication advancements … all leading 200 years later to your little smart phone.

Technology. Amazing, isn’t it?

Read more:
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You can read more on how the Daniell Cell works here: Notes from the Oesper Collections The Daniell Cell William B. Jensen Department of Chemistry, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH. It opens a pdf you can download and read.

Read more about John Daniell: https://www.chemistryworld.com/opinion/daniells-cell/7919.article and the Encyclopedia of World Scientists (Rev. ed) by Elizabeth Oakes.