Digital Library: Natural and Physical Sciences

A History of Pop-up and Movable Books: 700 Years of Paper Engineering

Video of a lecture given by Ellen Rubin on the history of pop-up and movable books.

By Aeroplane to Pygmyland: Revisiting the 1926 Dutch and American Expedition to New Guinea

A fascinating look back at a historically important scientific expedition to New Guinea told through diaries, photographs and original film footage.

Copyright Law as Storytelling

Video of the lecture given by William F. Patry, Senior Copyright Counsel at Google, Inc. and the author of a 7-volume treatise on U.S. copyright law entitled Patry on Copyright.

Deciphering the Archimedes Palimpsest and Creating Digital Manuscripts

Lecture on the discovery, conservation, and imaging of the Archimedes Palimpsest by William Noel, Curator of Manuscripts at the Walters Art Museum.

Democracy 2.0: A Case Study in Open Government

Video of a lecture delivered by David S. Ferriero,10th Archivist of the United States, on open government, social media and digitization.

Endeavour's Wake: Captain Cook and the Transit of Venus (Chasing Venus Lecture 2)

Video of a lecture given 4/33/2004 by Richard Fisher entitled "Endeavour's Wake: Captain Cook and the Transit of Venus"

Fantastic Worlds

Books Digital Collections Exhibitions Research Tools News & Events Get Involved About Donate Fantastic Worlds Exhibit Chapters Unlock in N days Unlock in N days Unlock in N days Unlock in N days Unlock in N days Unlock in N days Unlock in N days Visit the Exhibit Blog Digital Library Travel with us to the surface of the moon, the center of the earth, and the depths of the ocean — to the fantastic worlds of fiction inspired by 19th-century discovery and invention. New frontiers of science were emerging. We took to the air, charted remote corners of the earth, and harnessed the power of steam and electricity. We began unlocking the secrets of the natural world. The growing literate middle class gave science a new and avid public audience. Writers explored the farther reaches of the new scientific landscape to craft novels, hoaxes, and satires. Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Unlock in N DAYS Unlock in N DAYS Unlock in N DAYS Unlock in N DAYS Unlock in N DAYS Unlock in N DAYS Unlock in N DAYS Visit the Exhibit Opening July 1, 2015 National Museum of American History, Washington, DC

Heralds of Science

These 200 books and articles were selected by Bern Dibner to represent the most significant titles in the formation and development of Western science and technology.

How to Survive in the New Media Ecology

Video of a lecture delivered by Lee Rainie entitled "How to Survive in the New Media Ecology." Originally delivered December 11, 2009

Huygens's Ring, Cassini's Division, and Saturn's Family: The first Exploration of the Solar System

Video of Albert Van Helden's 2007 lecture at the National Museum of American History about the first exploration of the solar system.

Incunabula in the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology

An index to the earliest books printed with movable type held by the Libraries. Some entries have associated images.

Index Animalium

Compiled over 43 years by one man this index to every living animal discovered between 1758 and 1850 is still considered the essential reference for zoologists and paleontologists.

Instruments for Science

A collection of uniquely valuable trade literature that tells the history of 19th c. science through instrument catalogs.

Libraries in a Networked World

Video of a lecture given by Roy Tennant as part of the series on the future of libraries, museums and archives given in celebration of the Libraries' 40th anniversary.

Not Done Yet: Charting a new Course for Librarianship

Video of a lecture given by David Lankes entitled "Not Done Yet: Charting a new Course for Librarianship"

Public Reaction to the Transit of Venus, 1882 (Chasing Venus Lecture 5)

Video of a lecture given in 2004 by David DeVorkin entitled "Public Reaction to the Transit of Venus, 1882"

Scholars and the Everywhere Library

Video of a presentation by Dan Cohen given in 2009 for the Future of Libraries series

Scientific Identity: Portraits from the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology

Portraits of scientists, engineers, and inventors collected by Bern Dibner to complement he thousands of scientific books and manuscripts in the library he founded.

Sea of Glory: America's Voyage of Discovery. The U. S. Exploring Expedition 1838-1842

Video of lecture by Nathaniel Philbrick on the U. S. Exploring Expedition 1838-1842

Smithson's Library

A list of the original library of the Smithsonian's founder, given along with his bequest to the United States.

Solution of the Black-drop Mystery (Chasing Venus Lecture 4)

Video of a lecture given in 2004 by Jay M. Pasachoff entitled "Solution of the Black-drop Mystery"

The American Expeditions of 1874 and 1882 (Chasing Venus Lecture 3)

Video of a lecture given in 2004 by Steven J. Dick entitled "The American Expeditions of 1874 and 1882"

The First Observation of a Transit of Venus (Chasing Venus Lecture 1)

Video of "The First Observation of a Transit of Venus" - Wilbur Applebaum lecture originally given 04-08-04

The Philosophical Breakfast Club and the Invention of the Scientist

Video of a lecture by Dr. Laura J. Snyder based on her recent book "The Philosophical Breakfast Club: Four Remarkable Friends who Transformed Science and Changed the World"

United States Exploring Expedition

After four years at sea, the U.S. Exploring Expedition returned with a bounty of data, specimens and artifacts that would later come to the Smithsonian.

We Can't Get There From Here: The Intersection of Research Library Aspirations and Copyright Challenges.

Video of a lecture on copyright issues for research libraries give by James Neal for the Libraries' 40th anniversary lecture series.

Whales: From Bone to Book

The Smithsonian Libraries opened its new exhibition "Whales: From Bone to Book" in the National Museum of Natural History on May 25, 2013. This exhibition is a joint production of the Libraries and the Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of Natural History. "Bone to Book" will be on display on the ground floor through April 2014. Studying natural history is about discovering objects in the natural world and translating their meaning into scientific knowledge. "Whales: From Bone to Book" traces the fascinating journey of how Smithsonian scientists study the largest and most intelligent mammals on the planet: whales. This story describes how the bones and fossils of these amazing animals make their way from discovery on a beach or in rock strata, to the museum's doors and into its vast collections, and finally to sharing new knowledge about the natural history of whales, past, present and future. Whales are among the unlikeliest of mammals. They are mammals with ancestors who lived on land, but they now spend 99 percent of their lives underwater. Scientists still have much to learn about their natural history, even as humans have hunted many whale species to the brink of extinction. The Smithsonian has been studying whales since the 1850s, and its collections of modern and fossil whale specimens in the National Museum of Natural History are unmatched in the world. Teams of Smithsonian scientists, researchers, and illustrators continue this legacy of investigation, collecting whale bones, placing them in the museum for study, and publishing their findings. The Smithsonian Libraries is part of this process, housing the world's best collection of resources about marine mammals – from centuries-old books to electronic journals that publish the latest discoveries by Smithsonian researchers.

Wonder Bound

Why are centuries-old natural history books vital to scientific research? Our scientists consult early printed materials to compare historical descriptions with modern specimens. These researchers use the rare book collection of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries' new Joseph F. Cullman, 3rd, Library of Natural History. Wonder-rooms and curiosity cabinets appeared in the 1500s, as wealthy Europeans displayed objects and specimens collected during trading voyages and exploring expeditions. Books-such as these-allowed scientists and collectors to share their observations.