More than a thousand years before the first telescopes, Babylonian astronomers tracked the motion of planets across the night sky using simple arithmetic. But a newly translated text reveals that these ancient stargazers also used a far more advanced method, one that foreshadows the development of calculus over a…
One of the most exclusive clubs in Great Britain is not full of hereditary peers and socialites, but instead counts former pilots and servicemen as its chief members. It’s called the Guinea Pig Club and membership dues are steep.
On the latest episode of Manhattan, the physicists assigned to developing the gun model design for the atomic bomb hit a major obstacle that threatens to sink the gun model for good. It’s a dilemma ripped straight from the history books, along with the eventual solution.
Science fans love to nerd-gas when it comes to popular culture. Witness the countless recent articles analyzing the science versus the storytelling of The Martian. That tension between accuracy and artistic license is not unique to modern society. It’s been present throughout history, including depictions of the…
European languages often use the same word for “story” and “history,” but many English speakers regard these words as antonyms. But how different are they really? At The Last Word on Nothing, Ann Finkbeiner asked some practicing PhD historians for their opinions.
In the 1940s, a young American doctor went to Guatemala to do medical experiments. He was funded by the venerable U.S. National Institutes of Health, but he did not make anyone healthy. Instead, he deliberately exposed 1,300 people to sexually transmitted diseases.
The history of science has its share of biological frauds, cases where people fabricated an imaginary organism and passed it off as real, or lied about an organism's behavior. Every now and then, however, a creature that is suspected of being a hoax turns out to be real.
Apparently It's Okay To Be Smart thinks it's okay to be sexist. The science-themed YouTube show is taking a ton of flak after releasing a video portraying Albert Einstein as a lecherous old man who can't keep his hands off Marie Curie during Thanksgiving dinner.
He’s been dead for nearly 70 years, but Sigmund Freud’s provocative theories are still a huge part of psychology, neuroscience, and culture — this despite the fact that many of his ideas were mindboggingly, catastrophically wrong. Here’s why Freud just won’t go away.
Rabies spread by bites of infected dogs has been deeply feared since antiquity. But the virus also gave some people a rather nasty idea: Why not use it as a weapon?
Do you want your share of scientific immortality? You can devote your life to mastering your field, examining the mysteries of the universe, and then finally arriving at one great discovery...but according to Stigler's Law, you won't get the credit.
By the 1700s, there could no longer be any doubt. Earth was just one of many worlds orbiting the Sun, which forced scientists and theologians alike to ponder a tricky question. Would God really have bothered to create empty worlds?
This image of a tartan ribbon is the first-ever permanent color photograph, and it was taken 150 years ago yesterday by the legendary scientist James Clerk Maxwell. So just how did he create colors that would last for over a century and a half?
Over two thousand years ago, the Greeks discovered the fossilized thigh bone of a giant mammal that had roamed their country a million years ago. This bone may have helped inspire Greek legends of strange and giant creatures.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed in what is now the Bahamas, changing the world forever. But was he first non-indigenous person to reach the Americas? Vikings got there before him, and possibly Polynesians too...and those are just the sane theories.
The Antikythera Mechanism is the world's oldest computer, calculating the stars 2000 years ago. Now modern engineers have come up with the only possible improvement...they've rebuilt it with Lego. But is this the best science video of them all?
The first X-ray machines needed patients to sit still for well over an hour, they doused people with 1500 times the amount of radiation as today's machines, and the pictures were fuzzy at best. But they were still absolutely amazing.
In the early 1960s, some twenty-something enthusiasts in Lebanon started building remarkably sophisticated rockets. These rockets made it as far up as the International Space Station is today, and even the United States and Soviet Union had to pay attention.
On September 13, 1848, an accidental explosion drove a meter-long iron rod through the skull of Vermont railway worker Phineas Gage. Incredibly, Gage survived, but the lingering side-effects provided science its first clues about how the brain affects our personality.
An eccentric from 18th century Yorkshire, animal-lover and inventor Jemmy Hirst was the greatest eccentric in English history. His bizarre exploits included riding bulls, teaching otters to fish, fixing sails to his carriage, and treating the king like an equal.