T5:19/20 Brighton Sea Front

Basking in the British sunshine (it does happen) is the 19th disk of the T5 series, which is the 20 centuries of the last two millennia. The 19th century offers many suitable graphical motifs, and this disk has chosen a bicycle, a car, and a railway locomotive. Can you make out anything else? There is a football thing in the middle. Above that is a building. There’s a spiral thing on the right, and a corkscrew underneath the football.

Geograph 3150974 by Keith Edkins

(Image: © Copyright Keith Edkins and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 License.)

I can just make out the symbol “He” – which represents the chemical symbol for the element Helium, which was discovered in 1895.

At the left is a e-, which would suggest electrons:

Irish physicist George Johnstone Stoney suggested that there existed a “single definite quantity of electricity”, the charge of a monovalent ion. Stoney initially coined the term electrolion in 1881. Ten years later, he switched to electron to describe these elementary charges, writing in 1894: “… an estimate was made of the actual amount of this most remarkable fundamental unit of electricity, for which I have since ventured to suggest the name electron”.

Right at the top, and very difficult to spot, particularly on this copy of the disk, is an equation. After some research, I decided that this was “the Maxwell–Faraday equation, a generalisation of Faraday’s law that states that a time-varying magnetic field is always accompanied by a spatially-varying, non-conservative electric field, and vice versa”.

maxwell-faraday equation

I wonder if there’s a copy of the original drawings anywhere. It would be nice to see all the details.


Now I’ve managed to get hold of the original illustration (thanks to commenter Clyde), it’s easier to see some of the details that are hard to make out on the original metal disk.

19 century

It’s now possible to make out: a finch (Darwin?), some Morse code (which I think says “BUSY TIMES”), a bellows camera on a tripod, the Eiffel Tower, a radio wave, the telephone, telegraph poles, fossils, an X-ray, and a light bulb at the top.


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