Ancient and Medieval Religious Belief and Medicine

The spirits and gods were believed to make their presence known through disease. Introduction When people fall ill they inevitably ask: ‘Why am I ill?’ and ‘How do I get better?’ Throughout history, the answers have been sought and provided through a mixture of natural, spiritual and moral meanings. People have rarely understood illness through[…]

Menelaus of Alexandria and Science in Ancient Greece

Menelaus, and others like him, reduced the physical world to a purely geometric one. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Menelaus of Alexandria was a Greek astronomer, scientist, and mathematician who lived around 100 CE. Menelaus made a significant and lasting contribution to the fields of astronomy, geometry, and trigonometry. His major work, the Spherics survives and presents[…]

The Age of the Earth

The Earth has been through many changes during its existence. Introduction Modern geologists and geophysicists consider the age of Earth to be around 4.54 billion years (4.54×109 years).[1] This age has been determined by radiometric age dating of meteorite material[2] and is consistent with the ages of the oldest-known terrestrial and lunar samples. Following the[…]

Galileo Galilei: A Scientific Break from Aristotle

The Catholic Church didn’t finally officially recognize their own error until John Paul II in 1992. Introduction Galileo Galilei (February 15, 1564 – January 8, 1642) was an Italian physicist, astronomer, and philosopher, whose career coincided with that of Johannes Kepler. His work constitutes a significant break from that of Aristotle and medieval philosophers and[…]

‘De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium’: The Medieval Copernican Revolution

His work marked the starting point of modern astronomy and cosmology. Introduction Nicolaus Copernicus (February 19, 1473 – May 24, 1543) was one of the great polymaths of his age. He was a mathematician, astronomer, jurist, physician, classical scholar, governor, administrator, diplomat, economist, and soldier. Amid his extensive accomplishments, he treated astronomy as an avocation.[…]

NESSI Emerges as New Tool for Researching Exoplanet Atmospheres

NESSI views the galaxy in infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye. By Elizabeth Landau The darkness surrounding the Hale Telescope breaks with a sliver of blue sky as the dome begins to open, screeching with metallic, sci-fi-like sounds atop San Diego County’s Palomar Mountain. The historic observatory smells of the oil pumped[…]

The 1900 Total Eclipse That Helped Prove Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

It was a matter of the right eclipse, the right place, and the right time. By Charles EmmersonHistorian and Author When Albert Einstein published the first draft of his general relativity theory in 1911, it predicted that light would bend when passing the gravitational pull of a large object. To verify his calculations, he needed[…]

The Real Alexander von Humboldt: A Scientist of the Romantic Age

Humboldt almost invented the electric battery– in fact, he came very close. Alexander von Humboldt was born 250 years ago this fall. As his legacy is celebrated across the globe, I continue to be struck by the grandiose claims that are made about him in the existing literature. The narrative that emerges is of an intrepid explorer, striding out to[…]

5 Effective Tips to Improve Your Science Writing Skills

Whether you are into writing and need polishing your style, or you are a newbie trying to survive in the world of academic rules and standards, this article is definitely for you. We have examined the most common mistakes students make and outlined the 5 effective tips to boost your writing skills today. Check them[…]

A History of Science and Technology in China

The first recorded observations of comets, solar eclipses, and supernovae were made in China. Introduction The history of science and technology in China is both long and rich with science and technological contribution. In antiquity, independent of Greek philosophers and other civilizations, ancient Chinese philosophers made significant advances in science, technology, mathematics, and astronomy. The[…]

One Really Big Difference between Science and History

Employing the word “truth”. By Dr. David P. BarashEvolutionary Biologist and Professor Emeritus of PsychologyUniversity of Washington Science differs from theology and the humanities in that it is made to be improved on and corrected over time. Hence, the new paradigms that follow are approximations at best, not rigid formulations of Truth and Reality; they[…]

Denis Diderot and Science: Enlightenment to Modernity

Diderot produced an impressive, unfinished work over at least 15 years. Introduction Today (October 5) is 300 years since the birth of Denis Diderot, a prominent Enlightenment philosopher, art critic, and writer, who died on July 31, 1784, aged 70. A key Enlightenment figure, many of Diderot’s ideas were avant-garde and foreshadowed many concepts in[…]

Ancient Mesopotamian Science and Technology

The Sumerians first explored the practice of the scientific hypothesis. Introduction Mesopotamian science and technology developed during the Uruk Period (4100-2900 BCE) and Early Dynastic Period (2900-1750 BCE) of the Sumerian culture of southern Mesopotamia. The foundation of future Mesopotamian advances in scientific/technological progress was laid by the Sumerians who first explored the practice of[…]

Evolution Is a Tree, Not a Straight Line

If you go by editorial cartoons and T-shirts, you might have the impression that evolution proceeds as an orderly march toward a preordained finish line. But that’s not right at all. Introduction Evolution doesn’t follow a preordained, straight path. Yet images abound that suggest otherwise. From museum displays to editorial cartoons, evolution is depicted as[…]

Spiritualism, Religion, and Mathematics in the Victorian Period

Many were conflicted between their desire to believe and their want of rigorous intellectual explanation, and material proof for their belief. By Sylvia Nickerson Late nineteenth-century British culture was somewhat preoccupied with the presence of ghosts. Conjuring spirits at séances was a popular pastime, with the exploits of some spiritualists, such as the medium Henry[…]

H.G. Wells and the Uncertainties of Progress

In addition to the numerous pioneering works of science fiction by which he made his name, H. G. Wells also published a steady stream of non-fiction meditations, mainly focused on themes salient to his stories: the effects of technology, human folly, and the idea of progress. As Peter J. Bowler explores, for Wells the notion[…]

The “Souls” of Magnets in the 17th Century

Lodestones are dull, lumpy, and slate-gray, but their “magnetic intelligence” made them fabulously expensive. Magnets have souls. At least, that was the leading scientific explanation for magnetism circa 1600, as laid out in the highly influential De Magnete. Its author, William Gilbert, experimented with lodestones, lumps of magnetite that, after being struck by lightning, turn into natural magnets.[…]

Victorian Biological Research in Western Equatorial Africa

By midcentury, Victorian natural historians seemed hungry for information from formerly inaccessible regions of Africa. With a groan that had something terribly human in it and yet was full of brutishness, he fell forward on his face. The body shook convulsively for a few minutes, the limbs moved about in a struggling way, and then[…]

Charles Darwin and the Voyage of the ‘Beagle’

Darwin to understand the convergence of disparate scales of geological and human history. The event now known as “the voyage of the Beagle” comprises Charles Darwin’s circumnavigation as ship’s naturalist on the second of three surveying voyages by H.M.S. Beagle; the writings published as his first book, the Journal of Researches; and the genesis of his theory[…]

Between “Bildung” and “Wissenschaft”: The 19th-Century German Ideal of Scientific Education

Without a doubt, the most influential concept in German university history is that of the “unity of teaching and research”. Abstract Prior to the 19th century, poetry, rhetoric, historiography and moral philosophy were considered particularly valuable to humane education, as they transmitted knowledge of beauty, goodness and truth. These so-called “fine sciences” (“schöne Wissenschaften”) were[…]

Early Scientific Exploration in Latin America

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries saw a growth in the inland exploration of Latin America. Introduction The desire of travelers, mainly European scientists, artists, and writers, was not to settle new frontiers. Many of these regions were colonized, or, in some cases, had even become independent from European imperial powers. Rather, the goal of these[…]

Robert Hooke: The ‘English Leonardo’ Who Was a 17th-Century Scientific Superstar

Born on July 18, 1635, this polymath broke ground in fields ranging from pneumatics, microscopy, mechanics and astronomy to civil engineering and architecture. Introduction Considering his accomplishments, it’s a surprise that Robert Hooke isn’t more renowned. As a physician, I especially esteem him as the person who identified biology’s most essential unit, the cell. Like Leonardo[…]

Francis Bacon and the Scientific Revolution

Sir Francis Bacon developed a method for philosophers to use in weighing the truthfulness of knowledge. How Do We Know That Something Is True? The word science comes from the latin root scientia, meaning knowledge. But where does the knowledge that makes up science come from? How do you ever really know that something is true? For instance,[…]