Filed under history of science

Beyond Love

I’ve become a huge fan of Ira Glass’s ‘This American Life’ podcast, especially since it provides a welcome antidote to all the bad news coming out of the states recently. Last week i stumbled upon one of the strangest stories ever, in the episode ‘Grand Gestures’ which challenges so many aspects of what we are … Continue reading

St Thomas’s Old Operating Theatre

St Thomas’s Old Operating Theatre

This is a wonderful, haunting but small museum, a place that should make you fall down and give thanks to whoever you believe in that modern medicine exists. It’s in the attic to provide maximum light for operations. Everything is so small, especially the operating table which I doubt would be long enough for me. … Continue reading

The Man Who Stood on the Shoulders of Giants

The Man Who Stood on the Shoulders of Giants

Roger Bacon (born 1214) is generally considered to be the father of modern science. He wrote f the values of book and experience. This is from Jean Gimpel’s  The Medieval Machine.  There are two modes of acquiring knowledge – namely by reasoning and experience. Reasoning draws a conclusion and makes us grant the conclusion but does … Continue reading

Shrunken Heads

I have seen a number of these, especially the collection in Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum, but though vaguely aware they served some ritual function, never really pursued what they were about. No images are included as it is not possible to photogrph such human remains. This is from the i paper, by Frank Cottrell-Boyce: The … Continue reading

Master Percy Praises The Lever Museum

Master Percy Praises The Lever Museum

Eighteenth century England produced a lot of child proteges who were often put on display by their partents and guardians in a way that to modern eyes seems like exploitation, but for families of humble birth could provide a welcome income. Some went on to achieve well deserved success such as the future President of … Continue reading

Dinosaur Brain Found

This is from last Thursday’s i paper. It’s incredible.  A “Brown pebble” spotted by a fossil hunter in Sussex has been confirmed at the first known example of petrified dinosaur brain. The specimen is thought to have come from a large plant eater such as iguanodon, which lived about 133 million years go. Scientists believe … Continue reading

The Dawn of Air Travel

The Dawn of Air Travel

Forget about the Wright Brothers, the first flight was in England, a beautiful machine called Ariel. This is from a lovely illustrated book on a 19th century family of publishers who are still in business, Ackermann 1783-1983, and is one of the many strange items associated with this printing house: In 1843 Ackerman & Co. published … Continue reading

Albatrosses Running in Circles

Albatrosses Running in Circles

Since albatrosses are in the same family as seagulls who stamp on the ground to imitate rain, which draws their favourite food, worms, to the surface, this article fits with their family behaviour. This is by Tom Bawden in the i paper: Albatrosses secure much of their food using an extraordinary technique which involves furiously … Continue reading

Apple Stomping on the Shoulders of Giants

This is from the i paper, by Andrew Johnson, titled “Without public funding, there is no iphone” or much else, for that matter: Hands up who likes paying tax? No one? Thought so. While most of us recognise it’s a necessary burden there are others – often the very wealthy – who don’t like to … Continue reading

Haboob versus Sandstorm

This is from the i paper a few days ago: A wall of dust raced toward Lubbock, Texas, on Sunday, and the National Weather Service crew out caution on its Facebook page. ‘A haboob is rapidly approaching the Lubbock airport and may affect the city as well.” the meteorologist wrote . The use of the … Continue reading