✦ Novelist, poet, and critic Vladimir Nabokov was an avowed lepidopterologist. He found the study of butterflies so enthralling (he was curator of lepidoptera at Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology), he told a Paris Review interviewer in 1967 that but for the Russian Revolution, he might never have written novels at all. Read the fascinating posts at The Book Bench and The New Times that detail Nabokov's pursuits in the natural world.
Nabokov described this "blue" butterfly, Icaricia acmon, in 1944.
Also see: "Vladimir Nabokov's Butterfly Studies Bring Together Two Cultures", Reader's Almanac, January 28, 2011.
✦ This is International Year of Chemistry 2011, and anyone may get involved. The kickoff for the year-long event was January 27, and the visual archives at the Smithsonian joined in with a slideshow. Women's contributions are being highlighted. Did you know that a chemist Jane Blankenship Gibson was a spectroscopist for Lockheed Aircraft and was also lauded for her, ahem, homemaking skills?
✦ There's an entire Website devoted to Joan of Arc medals. You can follow it on FaceBook, too. (Note: The site is in French. Even if you don't understand French, you will appreciate the featured images of the commemorative medals.)
✦ The first edition of Tom Wait's poetry chapbook, Hard Ground, has been so successful in raising money for support services for those experiencing homelessness that Waits is releasing a second printing, which will be limited to 1,000 copies. The book is available only through Waits' Web store.
✦ A student at the Institute of Conservation Sciences at Cologne University has figured out how to adapt light projection technology commonly used at rock concerts to restore a German 16th Century mural. As this Art Newspaper article explains, the student's collaboration with software and hardware companies has led to a "groundbreaking" tool for conservators.
Another interesting article on the use of "hands off" light projection and other technologies to restore artwork, in this case Mark Rothko's, is here.
✦ Alexander Calder was filmed in 1955 performing his Cirque (Circus), a working reproduction in miniature made of wire, cork, wood, cloth, and other materials. Calder's performances, including those in the United States, were so successful he was able to live off his ticket proceeds in Paris.
PBS American Masters Program on Calder
Whitney Museum Calder Collection