Palaeography: Medieval Scribes and the Transmission of Hebrew Scientific Works

Before the age of printing, the texts and layouts of Hebrew works were not standardised. This is because the transmission of works was out of the hands of their authors and in the hands of scribes. Dr Israel Sandman considers the intervention of scribes when copying Hebrew scientific works. When transmitting Hebrew works, scribes were[…]

Written in the Stars: Astronomy and Astrology in Medieval Manuscripts

Faith, science, and stargazing influenced everyday decisions in the Middle Ages. Introduction Humankind has always looked to the sky in wonder, with a desire to understand our place in the universe. Eclipses, comets, and star and planet sightings mesmerize us and inspire awe. In the medieval world, from about 500 to 1500, astronomy was a[…]

The Science and Biology of Aristotle

Aristotle studied developing organisms, among other things, in ancient Greece, and his writings shaped Western philosophy and natural science for greater than two thousand years. By Dorothy Regan Haskett, Valerie Racine, and Joanna Yang Aristotle spent much of his life in Greece and studied with Plato at Plato’s Academy in Athens, where he later established[…]

Leonardo da Vinci Joined Art with Engineering

As Leonardo da Vinci found centuries ago, scholars of art, design, engineering and science can work together for mutual benefit. Leonardo da Vinci’s remarkable capacity for careful observation made him an astonishing artist and a brilliant scientist. He was able to compare the speed of a bird’s wing movement downwards and upwards. He noticed the differences[…]

Inside the Medieval and Early Modern Alchemist’s Workshop

What tools would an alchemist use in the quest to transmute other elements into gold? David Teniers the Younger, a seventeenth-century Flemish painter, had a serious thing for alchemy. Over the course of his career, Teniers painted some 350 different scenes, illustrating just about every aspect of alchemy imaginable. All of Teniers’ alchemical scenes, however,[…]

Caterina Sforza: Fearless Regent and Scientist of 15th-Century Italy

Sforza was an early scientist who experimented with chemistry and medicine. By Amy Lifson Caterina Sforza, the infamous fifteenth-century Italian regent of Forlì and Imola, was also an early scientist who experimented with chemistry and medicine. On the cover of Meredith K. Ray’s NEH-supported Daughters of Alchemy, a portrait of her, reproduced and seen above,[…]

Jacques Labillardière’s Contribution to Botany in the 19th Century

Exploring the impact of Labillardière’s work following a voyage to Australasia. Jacques-Julien Houtou de Labillardière’s *Relation du voyage à la recherche de La Pérouse* (1800) is a personal account of an attempt to solve a mystery which began in March 1788. After a five week sojourn–following up on James Cook’s discoveries, investigating reports of a[…]

The Life and Work of 17th-Century Botanist Nehemiah Grew

How Grew’s pioneering “mechanist” vision in relation to the floral world paved the way for the science of plant anatomy. In the 82 illustrated plates included in his 1680 book The Anatomy of Plants, the English botanist Nehemiah Grew revealed for the first time the inner structure and function of plants in all their splendorous[…]

Cultural Transfer of Scientific Knowledge in the Early Modern and Postcolonial Worlds

Some general principles for approaching the topic of knowledge transfer and science transfer. Abstract We are all familiar with stories of the daring voyages of discoverers and researchers who braved the seas and severe privation in the service of truth and enlightenment. The title of this article, “Knowledge Transfer and Science Transfer”, and the fact[…]

A History of Biology in Medieval Islam

The history of biology, built upon the thoroughness and insight of Aristotle and Galen, passed onto the Islamic Scholars, who added information drawn from every corner of the known world. Introduction By the 8th Century, most of Europe was deep in the Dark Ages, with only the Byzantine Empire preserving a few fragments of the[…]

Arab-Islamic Reception and Development of Hellenistic Science

An overview of the Arab-Islamic reception and development of Hellenistic science. Abstract This article is an overview of the Arab-Islamic reception and development of Hellenistic science. It particularly refers to mathematics, physics and astronomy. It focuses on the following topics: 1) Two interpretative models of this reception in the 19th, 20th, and 21stcentury scholarship: the[…]

Lise Meitner – The Forgotten Woman of Nuclear Phsyics Who Deserved a Nobel Prize

Left off publications due to Nazi prejudice, this Jewish woman lost her rightful place in the scientific pantheon as the discoverer of nuclear fission. Nuclear fission – the physical process by which very large atoms like uranium split into pairs of smaller atoms – is what makes nuclear bombs and nuclear power plants possible. But for many years, physicists[…]

Eclipsing the Occult in Early America: Benjamin Franklin and His Almanacs

Franklin advanced a scientific – not supernatural – understanding of astronomical events such as eclipses. His satirical character ‘Poor Richard’ mocked those who bought into astrological predictions. By the time he was 20 years old, colonial American Benjamin Franklin had already spent two years working as a printer in London. He returned to Philadelphia in[…]

Seeing the Invisible: A Short History of the Scientific Evidence of Dark Matter

About 85% of all matter in the universe consists of a mysterious, invisible, and as-of-yet unidentified substance dubbed “dark matter.” Everything you have ever touched, seen, or tasted; the air you breathe; the ground on which you stand; and the constituents of your body all consist of a type of matter that is only a[…]

Darling, I Love You … From the Bottom of My Brain

The irrelevance of the heart to love has been amply demonstrated by cardiac transplant surgeons. In William Shakespeare’s comedy Merchant of Venice, the play’s heroine Portia sings: Tell me where is fancy bred,Or in the heart or in the head. If you look at Valentine’s Day cards, it’s clear fancy is bred in the heart and not in[…]

Astronomy in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica

The observation of the sky was of considerable importance to the Maya, Aztecs and other prehisanic peoles of Mesoamerica. Overview The observation of the sky was of considerable importance to the Maya, Aztecs and other prehispanic peoles of Mesoamerica. Their familiarity with the regularities of the apparent motion of the Sun, the Moon and bright[…]

Ancient Cosmologies: Understanding Ancient Skywatchers, Mayas, and their Worldviews

Since the beginning of humankind, the fascination with the celestial vault has been regarded as an important element in human life, their future, and history. Overview Ancient and pre-modern worldviews of the cosmos originated in practical lifeworld structures and experiences and therefore cannot be analyzed in the same manner as modern cosmologies are. Being embedded[…]

A Chilling Proposal in the 1920s for an Orphanage Scientific Study

The history of race science is a history of racist science, as epitomized by this proposed but never carried-out experiment from the early 20th century. In the late 1920s, scientists hatched an outrageous plan to settle a question at the heart of American racial thought: were differences between racial groups driven by environment or by[…]

Supernatural Sound: Science and Shamanism in the Arctic

The Arctic became a place beyond empirical grasp: the real/fantasy land of orality about which those living within the textual horizon of rational empiricism dreamed with fear and longing. Toolemak’s Voice Scanning the horizon off the coast of Greenland in 1822, William Scoresby witnessed the impossible: floating in the sky was an upside down ship.[…]

Was Sputnik Really the Beginning of the Space Age?

America had completed a series of successful launches into space and achieved many firsts well before Sputnik. Although you will often hear the notion that the space age began in 1957 with the launching of the Soviet-made artificial satellite known as Sputnik, the actual historical record is not so simple. While it is certainly correct[…]

Russian Science Prior to the Russian Revolution

A discussion of the the scientific context prior to the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917. Abstract This paper is an attempt to present and discuss the scientific context prior to the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917. Some general aspects of the scientific milieus of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are described,[…]