Alembic Blog

Los Alamos to Princeton: Top Secret Manhattan Project Lectures

This book is rather unassuming - it bears the ownership signature of a Princeton student and looks like it could be any mid-century educational text in an inexpensive brown binder. But in fact, this is a rare and highly classified set of lectures printed for high-level employees of Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. How it came to be in the possession of a Princeton student a year before its contents were declassified is a fascinating story.

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Original Photos of the Pacific Theatre during the Second World War, including Nagasaki

Our most recent acquisition is an evocative collection of photographs documenting life in the Pacific fleet at the end of the Second World War, including the ruins of Nagasaki less than two months after the detonation of the atomic bomb.

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Bringing Some Culture to the Physicists: Nina Byers & Richard Feynman

This first edition of Richard Feynman's The Theory of Fundamental Processes is from the library of the pioneering female physicist Nina Byers (1930-2014), who made important contributions to particle physics and superconductivity and had a humorous personal connection with Feynman, earning her a mention in Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman.

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How Men (and Women) Fly: Gertrude Bacon & Early Aviation

'Have you ever seen a man fly?' A few years ago this question was too ridiculous to be worth answering seriously. A very few years hence it will be equally pointless. As well ask, 'Have you ever seen a man drive a motor-car, or ride a bicycle, or push a wheelbarrow?'

 So wrote the inimitable Gertrude Bacon, the first Englishwoman to fly in a plane, in the opening lines of How Men Fly, a significant early work on aviation.

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Photo Album & Scrapbook by an American Woman in Occupied Japan

My favourite finds as a bookseller are often journals, commonplace books, and scrapbooks that offer a window onto the past as it was experienced by ordinary people. One of our most recent acquisitions of this type is a remarkable photo album and scrapbook compiled in Occupied Japan by Marguerite Barker (below), an American employee of the Far East Asian Services during and after the Second World War. 

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Relics of Rhoda Sale, a Near-Forgotten Female Physicist

In recent decades historians have made great strides in uncovering the hidden history of women in STEM, but many female scientists' stories remain obscure. Most of them were not Nobel Prize winners like Marie Curie, or famous authors such as Rachel Carson, but still talented and hard-working women whose efforts contributed to the progress of science at a time when their gender's participation was often undervalued or rejected outright. We recently acquired an evocative record of one such scientist, the physicist Rhoda Sale.

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Happy Valentine's Day: Images of the Heart from Fritz Kahn's Das Leben des Menschen

Happy Valentines Day! To celebrate, we're sharing images of the human heart from Fritz Kahn's modernist series on human anatomy and physiology, Das Leben des Menschen, published between 1921 and 1931. Though Kahn is best known today for the poster that accompanied this set, Der Mensch als Industrialpalast, it was the books themselves that were his greatest achievement.

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The Original Weather App: A 1915 Pocket Forecaster by Negretti & Zambra

In addition to books, Alembic also stocks a select group of beautiful and unusual scientific objects. One of my favourites at the moment is this charming, early 20th-century "Pocket Forecaster" by Negretti & Zambra

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January 27, 2015

20th century › physics ›


High Energy Phenomena & Meson Theories by Richard Feynman: Rare Lectures from the Dawn of Particle Physics

Richard Feynman is one of our favourite scientists here at Alembic, and we're pleased to present a true Feynman rarity - a copy of the first and only edition of High Energy Phenomena and Meson Theories, a collection of lecture notes on the emerging field of particle physics, from a course he taught during his first year as a professor at Caltech in 1951.

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January 03, 2015

20th century › women's history ›


The Salamander: Zelda Fitzgerald & The Invention of the Flapper

The tremendous roaring of the 1920s had long faded to a murmur when a woman, not yet old but no longer a luminous celebrity, looked back from a room in a mental hospital and wrote, “I believed I was a Salamander and it seems that I am nothing but an impediment”.

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