All images: Yael Yolovitch / Israeli Antiquities Authority / EPA
The detail of a large mosaic excavated in the fields outside of Kibbutz Bet Qama, Israel, is seen on May 12. The mosaic dates from the Byzantine era from the 4th to 6th century and was exposed during a highway building project. The floor was in a large building measuring roughly 40 by 28 feet. The mosaic shows geometric patterns, amphorae used to transport wine, a pair of peacocks and a pair of doves pecking at grapes. Archaeologists are still trying to determine the use for this large building, which included pools of water that could have served as part of an inn for travelers on the main road outside Beersheba.
Members of the Association of Lincoln Presenters visit a Civil War mural on their way to the Ohio Statehouse on Friday, April 12, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio. They were going there to hear a Lincoln speech in the House chamber given by fellow presenter Jerry Payn. About three dozen Abraham Lincoln impersonators from around the U.S. are convening in Columbus for their 19th annual convention to compare notes and costumes and tour some Abe-related historical sites.
Mike Munden / AP
John Mansfield, a member of the Association of Lincoln Presenters, listens to a speech in the Ohio Statehouse by fellow presenter Jarry Payn.
Mike Munden / AP
Members of the Association of Lincoln Presenters listen to a tour guide during a visit to the Ohio Statehouse.
Google's Art Project has partnered with the George Eastman House to display a selection of their remarkable images from the invention of photography through the 19th century. The gallery allows viewers to virtually visit a museum they may not otherwise have access to, but what truly sets apart the experience from any other online museum gallery is the ability to zoom in and see details of iconic photos. In a “real” museum you would be tackled by the security guard before you could get close enough to see the grain of the film.
Ground crew and others watch as a US Navy transfer team carries the remains of a United States Civil War (1861-1865) casualty from Delta Flight 1172 to a hearse during a dignified transfer at Dulles International Airport in Sterling, Virginia on Thursday. The remains of two unknown crewmen found inside the sunken iron clad ship, the USS Monitor, were transfered for burial at Arlington National Cemetery after being discovered in 2002 and being sent to Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii for possible genetic identification.
The ceremony Friday at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington will include Monitor kin who believe the two sailors — whose remains were discovered in 2002 — are their ancestors, despite DNA testing that has failed to make a conclusive link. But the families stress that the interment pays homage to all 16 Union sailors who died when the ship went down, and nearly 100 people from Maine to California are expected to attend.
"When I learned they were going to do a memorial and have the burial at Arlington, it was like, 'I can't miss that,'" said Andy Bryan of Holden, Maine, who will travel with his daughter Margaret to the capital. He said DNA testing found a 50 percent likelihood that Monitor crewman William Bryan, his great-great-great-uncle, was one of the two found in the summer of 2002, when the 150-ton turret was raised from the ocean floor off Cape Hatteras, N.C.
A facial reconstruction based on the skull of King Richard III is unveiled by the Richard III Society, in London on Feb. 5, 2013.
By David R Arnott, NBC News
The face of England's King Richard III was revealed for the first time in more than 500 years on Tuesday following a reconstruction based on a skull unearthed from a parking lot in the city of Leicester.
Michael Ibsen, a descendant of England's King Richard III, poses for pictures with a plastic model made from the recently discovered skull of the king, during a press conference in London on Feb. 5, 2013.
As detailed by NBC News Science Editor Alan Boyle, DNA was extracted from bone samples and compared with modern-day mitochondrial DNA from two direct descendants of Richard III's family, including Michael Ibsen, a Canadian-born cabinetmaker who is a 17th-generation descendant of Richard III's eldest sister, Anne of York.
The skeleton's relatively delicate structure was consistent with descriptions of Richard III's physical appearance, University of Leicester historian Lin Foxhall said.
The bones of Richard III, who reigned for two years, have been discovered in Leicester, England, and they indicate that his spine was twisted by scoliosis and that he received eight head wounds in battle. NBC's Stephanie Gosk reports.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Monument stands within view of the Washington Monument on the mall in Washington, D.C.
John Makely / NBC News
Latanya Rogers, left, and Kenyae Reese, right, pose for a photo during their visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
By John Makely, NBC News
On Sunday afternoon as President Obama was being officially sworn in to begin his second term in the White House, thousands of people visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial nearby on the Washington Mall.
John Makely / NBC News
Bernita King, of Los Angeles, Calif.. takes a photograph during her visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
Kenyae Reese, who is from South Bend, Ind., but now lives in Washington, was able to describe the atmosphere as busloads of students and tour groups began to fill the space. "I think it speaks to the growth of the country and really of the world that we're standing here and we finally have a monument to recognize Dr. King. I think it's inspiring to our young people of all races. I don't think it's just an African-American thing. I think its wonderful that we're able to have these celebrations as well, but I think it speaks to the character of our nation and all of us can celebrate and be a part of this. You look out and see people of different races celebrating, so we've come a long way."
Egyptian laborers work at the new construction site of the illegal expansion of a local cemetery that is seen spreading toward Egypt's first pyramids and temples, at the ancient historic site of Dahshour, Egypt. The Black Pyramid, is seen background left and the Bent Pyramid, is seen background right.
Nasser Nasser / AP
Egyptian farmer and resident of Dahshour village, Ali Orabi rests by his house in Egypt. The illegal expansion of a local cemetery has raised a panic among antiquities experts, who warn that the construction endangers the ancient, largely unexplored complex of Dahshour. At the construction site, residents said they were desperate for new space for burial plots, pointing to old family tombs they said were full. Authorities balked at issuing permits for new tombs or demanded exorbitant fees and bribes, several residents said.
Nasser Nasser / AP
The new construction site of the illegal expansion of a local cemetery is seen spreading toward Egypt's first pyramids and temples at the ancient historic site of Dahshour, Egypt.
In the case of Dahshour, villagers say that their cemeteries are full and that authorities don't give permits or land for new ones. So they took matters into their own hands and grabbed what they insist is empty desert to erect family tombs.
"The dearest thing for us is burying our dead," said Mohammed Abdel-Qader, a resident of nearby Manshiet Dahshour. "This land here is wide and flat, it's a valley. Where are the antiquities they talk about? ... We have no antiquities here."
People look at the illuminated cloisters at Lacock Abbey on Jan. 10 in Lacock, England.
By Matt Nighswander, NBC News
For two weeks the medieval cloisters of Lalock Abbey, which was featured in two Harry Potter films, will be bathed in dazzling colors to highlight their architectural treasures as part of the installation "Into the Light" by Britain's National Trust. According to the BBC, the abbey's "cloisters and side rooms were transformed into the classrooms at Hogwarts School while the location was also used for Harry's discovery of the Mirror of Erised." The installation opens to the public on Jan. 12.
Matt Cardy / Getty Images
People stop to look at the illuminated front of Lacock Abbey on Jan. 10.
The abbey was also once home to William Henry Fox Talbot, considered by many to be the father of photography. At the same time that Louis Daguerre was inventing the daguerreotype process in France, Talbot was developing a positive/negative process which became the foundation for photography for many years to come. Talbot's first successful photo in the 1830s (click here to see the image) was of a window at the abbey.
Matt Cardy / Getty Images
The illuminated cloisters at Lacock Abbey.
Matt Cardy / Getty Images
People stop to look at the illuminated front of Lacock Abbey.
Matt Cardy / Getty Images
Volunteer Kristine Heuser stops to look at the illuminated cloisters at Lacock Abbey.
Forty years ago today, human beings took their last steps on the moon, and had their last look at Earth framed by the lunar horizon. There have been other pictures from the moon since then, of course, but they've all been seen secondhand, based on data sent back by robotic probes. No humans have seen an Earthrise like this one with their own eyes since Apollo 17's crew began their homeward journey on Dec. 14, 1972.
For Andrew Chaikin — author of "A Man on the Moon," the definitive history of the Apollo moon effort — the 40th anniversary of our lunar farewell is a cause for reflection.
When Chaikin was a 16-year-old outer-space fanatic, he attended Apollo 17's night launch at Kennedy Space Center, thanks to a letter he wrote to his congressman asking for a VIP pass. "It was the only part of 'Man on the Moon' that I wrote from personal experience," he told me.
Chaikin said the 12-day mission ended the Apollo program "on the highest note possible."
"By the time of Apollo 17, those guys — not just the astronauts, but the flight controllers and the planners, the whole team — they were really on top of their game," Chaikin said. "It was a spectacular mission scientifically. They landed in an absolutely spectacular place. They took some of the most memorable photographs of all the Apollo missions."
Today, Chaikin posted a video that sums up the significance of Apollo 17 as well as the importance of keeping the moon on our agenda for exploration. The five-minute clip includes an amazing view of the lunar module's ascent module rising into the sky, transmitted from a remote-control video camera that was left on the moon's surface.
Chaikin hopes that astronauts will follow through on the implied promise in the words that Apollo 17 commander Gene Cernan spoke just before climbing up from the lunar surface: "We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind," Cernan said.
Five days later, Cernan and his two crewmates, Harrison Schmitt and Ronald Evans, rode their command module through Earth's atmosphere and splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean — marking the end of NASA's last round trip to the moon. Most Americans weren't even alive when that happened. So how many people living today will still be around when the next moonwalk takes place?
"I don't think we realize how exciting it's going to be when we can see the moon rise, knowing that people are living there, working to make humans a multiplanet species," Chaikin says in the video. "And when they come home, they can share with us one of the moon's most precious gifts: the sight of the earth, breathtakingly beautiful as an oasis of life in the void."
To mark the 40th anniversary of the last human footsteps on the moon, "Man on the Moon" author Andrew Chaikin looks back at Apollo 17's explorations and explains why he believes the moon is the solar system's "jewel in the crown," beckoning us to return.
Today's anniversary, recalling our species' grandest voyages, comes amid a shocking episode in Connecticut that highlights our species' violent tendencies. It was that way for the Aurora theater shootings as well, which took place on the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Will there ever come a time when the brighter side of our nature, exemplified by the peaceful Apollo program, finally wins out over the dark side? That's one more thing to reflect on over the weekend...
Here are some of your own reflections, selected from the comments you've left over the past week on earlierinstallments of our Apollo 17 coverage:
"December of 2022 isn't that far away. At the rate we are going, and with the uncertainty and lack of focus we are experiencing regarding our manned space exploration program, I'm afraid the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 17 mission will pass without any new footprints having been made on the moon's surface by American astronauts.
"How would our lives be today if after 20 or 30 flights the Wright brothers dismantled their airplane and no one else flew for the next 50 years?
"Are we any better off now for not having continued our manned flights to the moon, and perhaps beyond?
"Will we sleep forever? America must awaken or we will find ourselves trailing behind the new leaders who will pick up the torch we long ago dropped.
"Awaken, American spirit of exploration! Arise as you once did so long ago! I miss you."
"That flight stood out, like the first flight to the moon. I can remember some of the highlights: a geologist looking at rocks, giving a reason to go to space beyond the Cold War; the 'blue marble' and a reminder that we are the one habitable planet in the solar system, so we had better keep this planet healthy. The 'Merry Merry Month of December' was funny, but at the time, also a little bit of concern: There was a worry that the breathing apparatus had a problem. What made him sing was the low gravity; he found it fun to skip on the moon because each jump covered a lot of distance, and that was visible on television (something the moonshot deniers should notice).
"I don't think of them as the last astronauts on the moon, but the most recent. It was a shock when my daughter saw videos of Neil Armstrong's moon landing in school, and I realized that another moon landing had not happened in her life. She is much older now, and my grandson has never seen a moon landing, and more and more funding is being cut, even though information from the space program is still coming to us. Look at the information from the asteroid projects and the xenon rocket. The space program is such a small part of our budget as is. It seems that every time budgets are cut, the space program suffers, schools suffer, and children have less and less to feel proud of."
"The next step for mankind is to become a celestial being. Short of that, mankind is destined to become just become one more extinct species in the vast cosmos. It is only by moving out into that vast cosmos that we see a true reflection of ourselves."
"In 1969, I sat in my sister's living room with my grandmother and watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. My grandmother reminisced about her life as we watched. Her father took part in the run for Indian Territory in Oklahoma. She and her siblings stayed with relatives in St. Louis while her parents built a cabin to house them. She liked to stand in the window and watch the lamplighter come around with his horse and buggy to light the gas street lights. She was educated on the farm by an old Cherokee woman who had been to finishing school in Europe, but forced on the long 'trail of tears' march to Indian Territory in 1838-39. She lost all of her family on the way. My great-grandfather eventually sold the farm and bought a store in town. Grandma married a farmer and moved back to Indian Territory, where she raised nine children without the benefit of electricity. All their water was carried from the creek, light was provided by kerosene lanterns and homemade candles. My children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren can never fully appreciate the grandeur of the moment as seen through my grandmother's eyes. It was an epic accomplishment and I have no doubt that we will return — to the moon and to many other worlds."
"We truly are a great nation at times — if only we'd remember that."
"My fear is that, in this day and age, America will go to the moon (and/or Mars) and treat it in the usual, selfish, utilitarian way. We have already screwed this planet up. Now they are considering going elsewhere. Of course, once we're there, we'll screw that up too. Here's an 'out-of-this-world' thought: Focus on population control and conservation to limit how badly we're screwing up the one and only world we're ever going to have."
"Planting a radio telescope on the far side of the moon, shielded from the radio noise generated by all of our technology, might well provide the kind of scientific bonanza that Hubble has created.
"That's what's lacking in most the moon mission proposals: the promise of being able to carry out some real science. Most of the proponents of a lunar return offer little more than, 'It would be neat to go back and look around some more.' That's a little vague, given the cost and danger involved."
Pb in CA:
"Somebody explain to me why going to the surface of the moon is valuable. There is nothing there of any value. OK, I've heard the idea of building a radio receiver on the far side. But, it would be more cost-effective to build a very-long-baseline radio receiver system using a fleet of satellites that stay in low-moon orbit, and half the time are shielded from earth radio noise.
"If we are willing to accept the fact that robots are much better adapted to carrying out missions in space, then we can have a sustainable, affordable space exploration program. The Augustine Commission got it right in this regard. Personally, I have no problem in thinking of robots as extensions of humans, and saying 'we are exploring the surface of Mars' currently with Curiosity.
"Here are the advantages of robots vs. humans on the moon: - Robots can stay indefinitely - no return trip to Earth - Energy supply is sun power - no need to take air, food and water - Very close communication to humans back on Earth - 2.5-second round trip - Cost of a mission is 1:2000 compared to sending humans
"What is gained by sending humans?"
"I can't believe that we are trillions of dollars in debt and the government is seriously considering cutting health care for the elderly — but we can even consider borrowing money to go to the moon. Clean up the mess, then spend money on 'toys.' America can't afford this right now."
"Yes, we're in bad shape here on Earth. In many ways. But we were born to look out and dream ... to explore. We went to the moon ... we have rovers on Mars, [including] one working years after it was supposed to die. Voyager 1 is reaching the end of our solar system, and will soon be beyond it — our first UFO. If we don't go back to the moon ... go to Mars ... [and] go beyond that someday, when we solve our petty differences here on Earth and put our minds to developing the mechanism to go outward into the unknown, what do we have to look forward to? What do young people have to dream about? When I stand outside on a clear night and look out at all the stars, I often wonder if anyone is looking back. Looking back and dreaming of places unknown and things never before seen, just as I am."
In addition to marking the 40th anniversary of Apollo 17's lunar departure, this Earthrise serves as today's offering for the Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar, which features views of Earth from outer space on a daily basis from now until Christmas. Check out these other holiday goodies:
This image from Dec. 7, 1972, shows a view of Earth as seen by the Apollo 17 crew - Gene Cernan, Ronald Evans and Harrison Schmitt - as they traveled toward the moon. The view extends from the Mediterranean Sea area to Antarctica. This was the first time the Apollo trajectory made it possible to photograph the south polar ice cap.
It's been exactly 40 years since NASA sent astronauts to the moon for the last time, and even though more than half of all Americans weren't alive when Apollo 17 got off the ground, the mission still has a big impact on our collective memory. And perhaps the biggest impact comes in the form of a single photograph, the original Blue Marble picture of Earth's full disk.
Hours after their launch on Dec. 7, 1972, Apollo 17 commander Gene Cernan and his crewmates — Harrison Schmitt and Ronald Evans — oohed and ahhed over their home planet, suspended in the blackness outside their window. "I know we're not the first to discover this, but we'd like to confirm ... that the world is round," Cernan told Mission Control.
Astronauts had been seeing the full planet from beyond Earth orbit since 1968, when Apollo 8 made a looping trip around the moon and back. In fact, Apollo 8's "Earthrise" picture of our planet at the moon's horizon also ranks among the most memorable space pictures ever taken. But there was something extraordinary about the view during Apollo 17's trip: The planet's entire disk was sunlit — a sight that astronauts had never captured on film before. The trajectory provided the best look yet at Antarctica, and Schmitt marveled over the clear view of Africa.
"If there ever was a fragile-appearing piece of blue in space, it's the Earth right now," Schmitt said.
The Blue Marble wasn't Apollo 17's only cultural legacy. Here are a few other memes that came out of the 12-day mission:
Doing science in space: Apollo 17 was the first NASA mission to include a professional scientist: Harrison Schmitt, who had a Ph.D. in geology. John Logsdon, former director of George Washington University's Space Policy Institute, recalls that Apollo 16 and 17 were almost canceled during the Nixon administration due to budgetary concerns. "It was the outcry from the science community ... and the fact that Nixon really didn't want to cancel them, that saved those missions," Logsdon said. Apollo 17 was arguably the most scientifically oriented mission to the moon — and helped set the precedent for research on the space shuttle and the International Space Station.
The beauty of a night launch: The post-midnight launch marked the first time that a NASA manned spacecraft took off at night, and the brilliant blaze of the Saturn 5 rising into the darkness became another iconic picture. It would be more than a decade before the next night launch from Florida: the shuttle Challenger's liftoff on STS-8 in 1983.
Orange soil: One of the most remarkable scientific discoveries came when Schmitt spotted orange-colored soil during the second of the mission's three moonwalks in the Taurus-Littrow valley. "It's all over! Orange!" he said. He and Cernan made sure that the stuff was included in the mission's 243 pounds (110 kilograms) of lunar rock and dirt — the largest haul of samples ever brought back from the moon. Researchers determined that the orange soil consisted of glass beads formed from lava ejected during volcanic eruptions on the moon, about 3.7 billion years ago. Such findings have helped scientists understand the violent processes that were at work on the moon early in its existence.
Singin' on the moon: The astronauts had serious work to do during their three days on the lunar surface, but there were moments of levity as well. The best-known moment came when Cernan and Schmitt crooned a tune as they skipped on the moon. "I was strolling on the moon one day, in the very merry month of December," they sang.
Last man on the moon: When Cernan prepared to climb up the ladder from the moon's surface into the Challenger lunar module for the last time, he told Mission Control that he believed the next steps on the moon would be made "not too long into the future." Logsdon said it was well-known at the time that the next moon mission wouldn't happen for a decade or more. "But I don't think any of us thought it would be 40 years, or really more than a half-century," Logsdon said.
NBC News' Cape Canaveral correspondent, Jay Barbree, told me that Cernan isn't fond of his "last man on the moon" title. "He likes to be called 'the most recent astronaut on the moon,'" Barbree said. "That's his way of saying we're going back."
This week, Bloomberg.com's James Clash quoted Cernan as saying that he "honestly believed it wasn't the end, but the beginning." At the time, he told himself, "We're not only going back, but by the end of the century, humans will be well on their way to Mars."
Cernan also told Clash that he regretted missing out on what would have been another picture for the ages:
"I left my Hasselblad camera there with the lens pointing up at the zenith, the idea being someday someone would come back and find out how much deterioration solar cosmic radiation had on the glass.
"So, going up the ladder, I never took a photo of my last footstep. How dumb! Wouldn’t it have been better to take the camera with me, get the shot, take the film pack off and then (for weight restrictions) throw the camera away?"
How long will it be before someone comes across Cernan's camera and does the damage assessment? If you remember the Apollo moon missions, what did they mean to you back then, and what do they mean to you today? If you don't remember Apollo, do those missions still tug at your psyche, or does this all seem like ancient history? Feel free to leave your remarks or reminiscences as comments below, or send them as emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll compile the best of the bunch for a follow-up item next week. We'll also have a look at how the moon may (or may not) figure in future space exploration.
Update for 6 p.m. ET: So who took the Blue Marble picture? That's been the subject of debate for decades, and no one at NASA has ever come up with a definitive answer. "I've actually been to events where all three of them kind of jokingly take credit for it," NASA's Mike Gentry told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. in 1999. The question has apparently been a sore point for Schmitt and Cernan in recent years, but when Barbree asked Cernan about the matter, the mission commander took the standard diplomatic line. Here's what Barbree says Cernan told him about who had the camera: "We were passing it around, and passing it around, and we really don't know who shot it. One of us did."
In addition to marking the 40th anniversary of Apollo 17's launch, the original Blue Marble serves as today's offering for the Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar, which features views of Earth from outer space on a daily basis from now until Christmas. Check out these other holiday goodies:
Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln is photographed before delivering his Cooper Union address in New York City on Feb. 27, 1860.
By Natalia Jimenez, NBC News
Going back as far as Abraham Lincoln, photography has played a key role in political campaigns. The invention of photographic technology in the 19th century was quickly adopted as a tool by politicians. As the technology evolved, politicians used photographs to help refine their public persona, leading to the emergence of the photo op.
Lincoln was the first presidential candidate to embrace photography, recognizing its ability to help propel his image and message. As a presidential candidate, his photo was actively used as part of his campaign. “Lincoln was the first president in which they made prints of his photographs and during the convention, fluttered them down like confetti,” says Kiku Adatto, a scholar at Harvard’s Mahindra Humanities Center, who has researched the history of image use in culture and wrote the book “Picture Perfect: Life in the Age of the Photo Op.” However, the portrait used during his campaign in 1860 is missing his now iconic beard as it was not until after he was elected that he made the decision to grow facial hair, believing it would make him more appealing to his constituents.
New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Democratic presidential nominee, addresses a crowd with his plan for farm relief on Sept. 14, 1932 in Topeka, Kansas.
By the time Franklin D. Roosevelt was running for president in 1932, cameras had become increasingly portable. Photographers were no longer limited to doing formal sitting portraits at long exposures, allowing them to capture politicians “on the trail” of their campaign. FDR did not want the public to view him as disabled, leading him to go to great lengths to mask his paralysis while campaigning. Photographers helped him in this effort and would not take pictures of him in a wheelchair. The only indication of his disability are visible in images from public appearances, where he frequently appears clutching a podium, or another stable source, in order to hold himself upright.
CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images
A view from the control room as Kennedy and Richard Nixon participate in the first televised presidential debate in Chicago on Sept. 26, 1960. Nixon looked tired and ill during the debate while Kennedy looked well-rested and healthy. Those who listened to the debate on the radio thought Nixon had won; television viewers thought it was a victory for Kennedy. After the debate, polls showed Kennedy taking a slight lead over Nixon.
Television’s prominence by the 1960s helped John F. Kennedy in his quest for the White House. Keenly aware of his image, it famously played to his advantage during the first televised presidential debate between him and an uncomfortable-looking Richard Nixon. In addition, candid photographs of him with his young family made him feel approachable and familiar to the public. “To invite a photographer in for these so called ‘intimate moments’ is another form of a photo opportunity,” explains Adatto. “Brilliantly so by the politician because that is also staged intimacy. This is perfected by JFK. That’s why politicians on their websites don’t just have the classic photo op, but they incorporate the casual image: the snapshot that their supporters and staff take.”
Zeboski / AP
Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy go for a horseback ride on the grounds of the Reagan's retreat in Middleburg, Va. in on Sept. 1, 1980.
Having had a previous career in film, Ronald Reagan was well accustomed to staged, camera-friendly scenes. “With Reagan’s campaign in 1980 and ‘84, Reagan and his media team mastered the art of the photo opportunity,” says Adatto. “Never before until Reagan had the media team actually choreographed pictures, settings. So the photo op became not simply: how can I look good for the camera, but how can I construct the whole scene? As if you’re making a movie, and place the politicians - the candidate - in that scene.”
While at first successful, these elaborate staged events eventually led to the press feeling taken advantage of by the politicians. By the 1988 presidential election, between George H. W. Bush and Michael Dukakis, television reporters shifted their coverage to reveal the staged aspect of an event, according to Adatto. At one of these events, Dukakis appeared riding in a military tank as effort to increase his credibility on defense issues. Those images were then used against him by the Bush team in a commercial, and Dukakis went on to lose the election. The phrase “Dukakis in the tank” is now synonymous with a failed photo op.
Michael E. Samojeden / AP
Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis gets a ride in one of General Dynamics' new M1-A-1 battle tanks at its land systems division in Sterling Heights, Mich on Sept. 13, 1988.
Charles Rex Arbogast / AP
Supporters of Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, try for a photograph of Obama during a rally on the College of Charleston campus in Charleston, S.C.,on Jan. 10, 2008.
The internet and social media now offer infinite outlets for user-submitted photos and video, changing the traditional role of the press. Both amateur and professional photographers now publish images on the web and through social media where they can be viewed by anyone. Associated Press photographers on the trail with the Romney campaign this election season have posted regularly to the photo-sharing app Instagram. Through Instagram, #aponthetrail offers glimpses of the sidelines of the campaign. “The spirit behind #aponthetrail is to show little vignettes of being ‘inside the bubble’ and also a different look at what it’s like to cover the campaign trail,” photographer Charles Dharapak said in an email. The process allows for more direct communication between the photographers and the public by sidestepping the role of the editor and publication. Previously, the public would only see images that had been selected by an editor and then published to a media outlet. Quirky images from the sidelines of a campaign would often go unseen.
Charles Dharapak / AP ; Evan Vucci / AP
Left: Romney rally Port St. Lucie, Fla. #aponthetrail; Right: Gov. Romney speaks with press aboard his campaign plane. #aponthetrail
We are now in a visually saturated culture, surrounded by cameras. With images everywhere, politicians are increasingly guarded and public events feel contrived. While the Obama administration is active in social media, and during the 2008 campaign used it to successfully gather supporters, press access has been restricted. Instead, the administration shares photos by its own photographer, Pete Souza, through Flickr. “All leaders practice the art of image-making, we just have these modern means to do it and in the world of the internet and smartphones, it has become far more democratized and widespread,” says Adatto. But she also says that while there is “less ability to deceive, there is also the potential to exacerbate the problem of the photo op culture: the attention to gaffes, the attention to failed images, the incessant surveillance, or the incessant attention to image-making itself, where we get so deep into the images that we begin to live in a house of mirrors, of images within images, within images and don’t try to seek the truth or the reality beyond those images.”
Abraham Lincoln-Hannibel Hamlin campaign button from the 1860 presidential election.
By Natalia Jimenez, NBC News
With the presidential election less than a month away, there is a barrage of political paraphernalia and tchotchkes everywhere you look. Probably even the places you don't look, if you live in a swing state. Over time, whether red or blue, some of these items will gather meaning (and possibly value) and become prized possessions, serving as a reminder of maybe the first election you participated in, a campaign you donated to, or a historical object passed down from a politically passionate family member.
Do you have any political memorabilia you are saving? We want to see the material from past presidential elections that still resonates and holds meaning to you. Share your photos and their stories with us.
There are about 100,000 objects. They have been gathered to reflect the nation’s political culture since the beginning of the colonial settlements up through the current 2012 political campaigns. The Smithsonian Institution made a commitment to build a major national collection to show the political process and the story of American democracy when it opened the National Museum in 1964.
Sen. John F. Kennedy makes his way through a crowd of supporters and journalists as he arrives in Los Angeles, July 9, 1960 for the Democratic National Convention.
Library of Congress
A poster for the presidential campaign of Theodore Roosevelt, with Charles W. Fairbanks for Vice President.
Paula Bronstein / Getty Images
A customer looks at U.S. President Ronald Reagan memorabilia for sale at the Political Americana shop which specializes in original presidential political items, on June 10, 2004 in Washington, DC. Tourists from all over the country have come to the nation's capitol to honor former U.S. President Ronald Reagan who died at the age of 93 on June 5 after a ten year battle with Alzheimer's disease.
Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images
Judy DeVries from California poses with her pins at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida, on August 30, 2012 before the start of the last day of the Republican National Convention (RNC). The RNC will culminate later today with the formal nomination of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan as the GOP presidential and vice-presidential candidates in the US presidential election.
Jim Young / Reuters
A supporter of U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) attends a campaign rally at The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, October 18, 2008.