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The Paradoxical Sketch

Photo of the original letter. Click for larger view

Those who follow little-known archeology discoveries are aware of the Paradoxical Sketch. For those who don’t a brief history.   In 1855, a farmer in Jefferson County, NY, found a metal box in a field that he recently purchased to add to his 15-acre plot.  Jeremiah Evans put this box aside and forgot about it until later in the month when the planting was done.  He found it in the tool shed where he left.  when he opened it, he found two pieces of paper rolled and tied with string. He removed the string, unrolled the papers and found a letter and rough sketch of something.  After reading the letter, he rolled the sketch and letter and retired them and closed the box.  He felt this was something the college in New York City should look at.  He and his wife traveled to NYC a few times a year, so he decided to wait until his next trip.

In the images below you can see the letter and some sort of sketch, as well as a name and date.   There is little

The Original sketch – Click for larger view

known of Ernest Johanson, other than he was an immigrant from Europe and was documented as a “science teacher and writer”  County records show his last known activity in 1675.  His death is listed as TBA.  There is no other information, nor the assistant named in the letter.  The letter reads:

To whomever finds (this?)

The experiment failed, however, we have seemed to have breached time and space. There is a corridor or tunnel that has opened between the laboratory and the library next door.  I’ve sketched what has appeared as best I can. I have no color paint here in the lab but it glows a (something) orange with blue lights. My assistant Thomas (and?) I will venture forward. If we don’t come back, please notify the families.

Ernest Johanson April 25, 1675″

On their next trip to NYC, Evans took the box to Columbia University.  At that time, the college was just ending a long period of financial trouble.  Even though they accepted it gratefully, they did not have the funds or staff to look into it.  As far as we can tell the Evans, never gave it a thought again.  The college passed the box to the Lyceum of Natural History which is now called the New York Academy of Sciences.  These documents remained on a shelf until the early 1970s, when there was some remodeling being done to the room the box was stored.   The box was moved to the “student” area where local students work with the Academy as part of a learning and studying event.  Not much attention was given to these old documents as there were so many other things that interested young scientists and students.

Photo of 1st Computer calculation. – Click for larger view

Late in 1984, a computer programmer at the Academy found the documents and took a look at them. They held her interest, and she started to see what she could get out of it.  She took the sketch and decided that she could calculate the sketch in a more “real” look, using math and measurements and plug these calculations into the new Macintosh computer they Academy had just received the month before. Computer processing had recently advanced to the point where a computer on a desk was becoming more mainstream.

Once these calculations were made they were processed in the computer and the output produced a newer, clearer version of the sketch.  However the Academy didn’t have a color printer and the Mac didn’t have a color screen, colors were not visible.  She moved on to other things, but before putting everything away, she took pictures of the new computer enhanced sketch and the letter seen above. In 2016 the documents and the Macintosh were sold at auction for a minimal price. There is no real trail until it surfaced again in late 2017 by two Silicon Valley programmers from an undisclosed company that released another version of the computer measurements.  They released two versions, the original Black and White one that was produced by the Mac and

their own color version using additional calculations and digital enhancement.  These are shown below.

Final Color Calculation – Click for larger view


Is this the “Corridor” that Johanson when through?  Did it look more like this and what happened to him?  This mystery may

The final calculation of sketch in B&W – Click for larger view

never be solved, but the images produced are interesting.  Please comment and feel free to share this post.



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