Robert Cornelius, an amateur chemist, took this self-portrait 175 years ago in the back of his family’s silver-plating shop in Philadelphia. On the back, Cornelius wrote: “The first light Picture ever taken. 1839.” It was one of the first Daguerreotypes to be produced in America, only a few months after Louis Daguerre announced his invention.
Scientists using two different age-determining techniques have shown that a tiny zircon crystal found on a sheep ranch in western Australia is the oldest known piece of our planet, dating to 4.4 billion years ago.
Woven silk, probably Iran, 14th century (V&A Museum)
"This silk is one of the most expensive luxury textiles of the 14th century and might have been used for secular or ecclesiastical dress or furnishings.
The exotic birds and vine leaves in its composition represent designs that were new at the beginning of the 14th century. Birds and plants flow freely across the textiles, the former depicted in active poses, often ranged in pairs facing each other. Vine leaves also feature prominently.
The main Italian centres of silk weaving by the early 14th century were Lucca and Venice. They distributed silk textiles from the East as well as building up their own silk manufacturing. They exported some of their silks to northern Europe. Although this silk was probably woven in Italy, the exoticism of the birds suggests that its makers were familiar with goods imported from the East.”