Filed under science history

Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey

Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey

This is one of the most important, but least known historical and archaeological sites in Britain. Gunpowder has played a huge role in modernisation; without it we would not have city states, mining, wars, hunting, and spectacular fireworks. This is from historian Brenda Buchannan: Gunpowder and the explosives and propellants which followed it provided a … Continue reading

Nourishment for our Brains

Nourishment for our Brains

This is from the i paper, an obituary for Marian Diamond Neuroscientist 11/11/1926 – 25/7/2017. Her work has huge implications for how our society is changing: Marian Diamond, a neuroscientist who studied Albert Einstein’s brain and was the first to show that the brain’s anatomy can change with experience, has died aged 90. … Her … Continue reading

Earth’s Toughest Life Form

Earth’s Toughest Life Form

Here’s an article that opens the door on theories of what alien life may be. This is from the i paper: Scientists have investigated what will kill the world’s most indestructible species and concluded that almost nothing can – except the death of the sun. The tardigrade, also known as a water bear, space bear … Continue reading

Iron Lung for Polio Victims

Iron Lung for Polio Victims

I am just old enough to remember the horrors of polio. A friend of mine had an older brother who was one of the last to be affected by it – he walked with a stick and his leg was in a brace so he was an object of pity for most of us. When … 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

Newton’s Great Promoter

Newton’s Great Promoter

Most people have heard of Sir Isaac Newton, though most are vague on the details of his theories on gravity etc. But his work was written in Latin and they were incredibly complex and hard to comprehend, even by his fellow scientists. But they were understood by French born vicar John Theophilus Desaguliers who devised … 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

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

Domestication of Dogs

Dog were the first animals our ancestors domesticated, and whether in Asia or Europe which perhaps suggests why the details are so unclear, but this article from the i paper last Friday clarifies it: New research suggests  that… two sets of dogs emerging independently from separate wolf populations on opposite sides of the Eurasian landmass. … Continue reading