An illustration from 1818, titled “Human Nonsense.” (Photo: Public Domain/WikiCommons)
When the kaleidoscope was invented in 1816, it triggered a mania in England. People who couldn't afford their own would pay an enterprising street hustler a penny for a glimpse into the phantasmagorical mirror world. In the illustration above, a gentleman in the street is paying attention to his kaleidoscope instead of the street traffic and collides with a hobby horse rider. One writer of the time called the kaleidoscope one of the "most important inventions and discoveries of our time."
Atlas Obscura has an article about the Victorian kaleidoscope craze, which includes this paragraph about a man who felt betrayed by the device:
A playwright and philosopher in Victorian America, R.S. Dement, recalled the moment he discovered what was inside a kaleidoscope as a child. Writing 61 years after the kaleidoscope had initially been brought to market in the UK, Dement said that he was originally fascinated by the reflections of colors bouncing around in various symmetries; but upon taking the kaleidoscope apart, he discovered nothing but “numerous pieces of colored glass, without symmetry, unsightly in themselves, have no connection with each other and but very trifling value." He felt betrayed, “deceived into believing that what he saw was at least the shadow of something real and beautiful, when in truth it was only a delusion.”
I get a huge kick out of the videos of the always-entertaining nerd whisperer Jenny Nicholson. If you haven’t seen her channel, check it out and watch as she sits on her bed, surrounded by sci-fi plushies, and shares her quirky, sometimes labyrinthine, and often convincing theories and opinions on sci-fi and fantasy films, comic […]
Mr. Grabher’s personalized plate, GRABHER, has never been a problem until this year’s renewal. The BBC reports that the Nova Scotian motorist was refused permission to plate up his own name—of fine German vintage—by the local transport department. He blames Trump. “I’ve never once had anybody come up to me and say they were offended,” […]
The Miele PG 8528 is a “washer-disinfector” intended for hospitals and other locations with potentially dangerous pathogens on their dirty dishes; it’s networked and smart. And dumb.
What could be more fun than a slingshot that shoots tiny airplanes? A slingshot that shoots tiny glowing airplanes of course! These toy planes are outfitted with ultra-bright LEDs, so you can fly all night without losing them in the trees.Whether you are a regular-sized child, or an overgrown adult one, these light-up flyers offer […]
You know the drill. You go to the dentist and they ask you how often you floss. You lie through your teeth and say, “every day!” (Bonus points if you have some cilantro or chives stuck in your gums from lunch). You don’t want to keep up the charade any longer, but rubbing that tiny strand […]
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has done outstanding work packing a fully capable desktop computer into a package the size of a deck cards—especially one that only costs $35. But if you already have a working laptop, why should you care? Oh, how much you have to learn. Besides operating well as a compact digital media hub, […]