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Art, forensic astronomy, and Edvard Munch’s Krakatoa sky 12 May 2009

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Texas State University astrophysicist Donald Olson practices what he calls ‘forensic astronomy’ – using science to investigate artistic, literary and historical puzzles. An article in Smithsonian Magazine looks at his work and some of the puzzles he has investigated, including where on the English coast Julius Caesar’s invasion fleet landed in 44BC, why the United States Marines ran aground offshore during their amphibous landing on Tarawa in 1943, when Ansel Adams took some of his most celebrated photographs, and why Edvard Munch’s The Scream (1893) has that anguished blood-red sky (a memory of the effects of the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, Olson suggests).

Interesting and controversial stuff from the art/science frontier zone: Jennifer Drapkin and Sarah Zielinski, ‘Forensic astronomer solves fine arts puzzles’, Smithsonian Magazine, April 2009 (via SciTech Daily Review).

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