Monday, 23 March 2009
Maunder's perception experiments
RH says..... Since Christie is away on his Easter holidays, and since I am working on a lecture on pre-space age observations of Mars, I thought I would briefly return to the theme of E. Walter Maunder's experiments on perception with the boys of Royal Hospital Schools in Greenwich (see my previous entry for background). Since the scan of his 'Experiments as to the Actuality of the "Canals" observed on Mars' available online has very unclear images, I thought I would rescan them and put them up here. The first shows (top) a photograph of a drawing based on an original by Giovanni Schiaparelli - but with the controversial straight canals replaced by "a number of small irregular markings ... inserted at haphazard" and "river-like marks". This drawing was shown to the boys, and the second image shows photographs of six of their drawings, produced from observations at varying distances from the original. Despite the absence of straight lines, most of the boys - especially those sitting in the middle rows - produced canal-like markings that agreed closely with the schematic Key Map shown at the bottom of the first image. Three boys, in addition, included a short line where Schiaparelli did not - "which we have here called from the name of its disocverer, 'Allen's Canal.'"