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Using stories from science’s past to understand our world
Science in all its strangeness before the 18th century
The pirate-turned-naturalist-turned-pirate-again inspired generations of British writers and scientists.
The tricks and tools book sleuths use to date the undated.
Since humans have been living—and inevitably dying—we’ve also been trying to figure out how not to die. Or at least how to keep the party going a little longer.
What a manuscript can tell us about an iconic scientist and the history we’ve built around him.
How searching for alchemy’s secrets helped create modern science.
The clues that betray a book’s disreputable past.
Historian Bruce Moran reveals the life of an itinerant doctor whose work influenced modern science.
When New York’s poor revolted against the city’s grave-robbing medical establishment.
How an ancient mathematical pop-up book became “sophisticated.”
An engraving in the Science History Institute’s collections hints at the ways art and science were intertwined in the Age of Enlightenment.
An ancient work on toxicology gets a 16th-century makeover from a master of fonts.
Alchemists once wrote of chaos, dragons, and spirits, but did they know more about chemistry than we give them credit for?
An addition to our collections reveals the mark a mysterious American alchemist made on Isaac Newton and other early chemists.
In 17th-century England, doctors battled illness and each other.
Travel back in time with us and find out what the world was like when science and the supernatural weren’t so far apart.
Did alchemists disappear from history, or did they just change their coats?
More than 350 years ago the very first air pump changed how science was done.
What connects a founder of the Western model of university education to the secrets of women?
In Renaissance maps geography becomes an art form.
What do magnetic compasses have to do with garlic? Direct yourself to the strange history of the compass.
Discover alchemy, the secret science!
In the 17th century, experimentalists were only beginning to understand the connections among blood, respiration, and air.
Boyle’s Sceptical Chymist (London, 1661) is an acknowledged landmark of science. But the book’s reputation is based less on what it is than on what it is perceived to be.
Even toward the end of his life, Isaac Newton still had questions about chemistry.
You can’t tell a book by its cover.
Robert Malone reviews Science: A Four Thousand Year History by Patricia Fara.
Although many were skilled in making medicinal home remedies, only a few women ran their own apothecaries, competing with males for the right to make and prescribe medicines.
The first balloons, both hot air and hydrogen powered, drew spectacular crowds and set off a craze—balloonomania!
Gabriele Ferrario reviews Michael Hamilton Morgan’s Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers, and Artists and George Saliba’s Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance.
Mary Ellen Bowden reviews William R. Newman’s Atoms and Alchemy: Chymistry and the Experimental Origins of the Scientific Revolution.
Historians have uncovered evidence of the immense influence of Arabic alchemy—a largely unexplored piece of the alchemical puzzle.