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"The sun's north pole has already changed sign, while the south pole is racing to catch up," says Scherrer. "Soon, however, both poles will be reversed, and the second half of Solar Max will be underway."
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David Hockney and others have speculated—controversially—that a camera obscura could have helped the Dutch painter Vermeer achieve his photo-realistic effects in the 1600s. But no one understood exactly how such a device might actually have been used to paint masterpieces. An inventor in Texas—the subject of a new documentary by the magicians Penn & Teller—may have solved the riddle.
At the beginning of this century, however, two experts of high standing begged to differ. Why, for instance, did Vermeer paint things in the foreground and shiny highlights on objects slightly out of focus? Because, they say, he was looking at them through a lens. By itself, Vermeer’s Camera: Uncovering the Truth Behind the Masterpieces, by a London architecture professor named Philip Steadman, might have stirred a minor academic fuss. But a mainstream controversy was provoked—conferences, headlines, outrage, name-calling—because a second, more sweeping and provocative argument was made by one of the most famous living painters, David Hockney. Hockney argued in Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of Old Masters that not only Vermeer but many great painters from the 15th century onward must have secretly used lens-and-mirror contraptions to achieve their photo-realistic effects.
http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2013/ ... ors-lenses
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