Category Archives: History of science

Dircks and Pepper: A Tale of Two Ghosts

It is often told that in the 1860s, John Henry Pepper used science and technology to invent a ghost. Or did he? This is the surprisingly tricky question that we will try to answer in this lengthy post. It is a … Continue reading

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Dinosaur feathers and other oddly-discovered science

Several days ago, a truly awe-inspiring and beautiful scientific achievement was announced to the public: the discovery of the first piece of amber ever found to actually contain the preserved tissue from the tail of a dinosaur, including bones, flesh … Continue reading

Posted in Animals, General science, History of science | 2 Comments

H.P. Lovecraft and the phantom planet

Science and science fiction go hand in hand, so to speak… but science and horror fiction?  There are, in fact, more connections than one might think.  A lot of modern science can be quite scary at first glance, and knowledgeable … Continue reading

Posted in History of science, Lovecraft | 3 Comments

The Hunt for Vulcan, by Thomas Levenson

Some of the most interesting stories in the history of science are those where investigations take a wrong turn.  Scientific progress is filled with red herrings, failed assumptions, and wild guesses that rarely make it into the science textbooks.  When … Continue reading

Posted in History of science, Physics | 2 Comments

Breaking the Chains of Gravity, by Amy Shira Teitel

Over the past few years, we’ve been treated to a stunning array of achievements in space exploration, such as the Juno Mission (inserted into orbit around Jupiter on July 4, 2016), New Horizons (passed Pluto on July 14, 2015), and Rosetta (landed … Continue reading

Posted in History of science, Physics | 3 Comments

1975: Neutrons go right round, baby, right round

Some time ago, I wrote about a fascinating 1975 experiment in which the relationship between quantum mechanics and gravity was tested.  The experiment was made possible by the new — at the time — technique of neutron interferometry, in which the wave … Continue reading

Posted in History of science, Physics | 9 Comments

Hilda Hänchen and the Goos-Hänchen effect

Today, the United Nations declared February 11 to be the “International Day of Women and Girls in Science,” starting a new effort to get more women into science and keep them there.  In honor of this new day, I thought … Continue reading

Posted in History of science, Optics, Women in science | 5 Comments