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Your search has returned 97 articles:
  • Editor's Note

    Lab tests aren’t the answer for every science question

    In the second half of the 17th century, the chemist and polymath Robert Boyle and philosopher Thomas Hobbes engaged in a divisive debate centered on a temperamental, mechanical contraption known as an air pump. In a series of famous experiments, Boyle used the air pump, which has been called “the cyclotron of its age,” to test basic scientific principles such as the relationship between a gas’...

    03/22/2017 - 12:15 Neuroscience, History of Science, Science & Society
  • Reviews & Previews

    Shocking stories tell tale of London Zoo’s founding

    The ZooIsobel CharmanPegasus$27.95

    When Tommy the chimpanzee first came to London’s zoo in the fall of 1835, he was dressed in an old white shirt.

    Keepers gave him a new frock and a sailor hat and set him up in a cozy spot in the kitchen to weather the winter. Visitors flocked to get a look at the little ape roaming around the keepers’ lodge, curled up in the cook’s lap or tugging...

    03/20/2017 - 07:00 Animals, History of Science
  • Reviews & Previews

    Physics greats of the 20th century mixed science and public service

    The 20th century will go down in history — it pretty much already has — as the century of the physicist. Physicists’ revolutionizing of the scientific world view with relativity and quantum mechanics might have been enough to warrant that conclusion. Future historians may emphasize even more, though, the role of physicists in war and government. Two such physicists, one born at the century’s...

    02/23/2017 - 06:00 History of Science, Science & Society, Physics
  • Context

    In 20th century, astronomers opened their minds to gazillions of galaxies

    WASHINGTON — Before astronomers could discover the expansion of the universe, they had to expand their minds.

    When the 20th century began, astronomers not only didn’t know the universe was expanding, they didn’t even care.

    “Astronomers in the late 19th century and the very start of the 20th century were very little interested in what we would call the broader universe or its...

    02/02/2017 - 07:00 Astronomy, History of Science
  • Film

    Hidden Figures highlights three black women who were vital to the U.S. space program

    View trailer

    Hollywood space flicks typically feature one type of hero: astronauts who defy the odds to soar into space and back again. But now a group of behind-the-scenes heroes from the early days of the U.S. space program are getting their due. Black female mathematicians performed essential calculations to safely send astronauts to and from Earth’s surface — in defiance of flagrant...

    12/23/2016 - 06:00 Numbers, History of Science, Computing
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘The Glass Universe’ celebrates astronomy’s unsung heroines

    The Glass UniverseDava SobelViking, $30

    In the early 1880s, Harvard Observatory director Edward Pickering put out a call for volunteers to help observe flickering stars. He welcomed women, in particular — and not just because he couldn’t afford to pay anything.

    At the time, women’s colleges were producing graduates with “abundant training to make excellent observers,”...

    11/27/2016 - 08:00 History of Science, Astronomy
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Void’ dives into physics of nothingness

    VoidJames Owen WeatherallYale Univ., $26

    In empty space, quantum particles flit in and out of existence, electromagnetic fields permeate the vacuum, and space itself trembles with gravitational waves. What may seem like nothingness paradoxically teems with activity.

    In Void: The Strange Physics of Nothing, physicist and philosopher James Owen Weatherall explores how...

    11/13/2016 - 07:00 Physics, History of Science, Particle Physics
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Citizen Scientist’ exalts ordinary heroes in conservation science

    Citizen ScientistMary Ellen HannibalThe Experiment, $25.95

    You don’t need a degree in science to monitor backyard owls or measure trees. And anyone with a computer can help scientists track seal populations in Antarctica. Citizen science projects like these — which depend on crowdsourced data — are booming. And when faced with a planet scarred by industrialization and climate change,...

    10/16/2016 - 11:00 Ecology, Conservation, History of Science
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘The Long, Long Life of Trees’ takes readers on a walk in the woods

    The Long, Long Life of TreesFiona StaffordYale Univ., $30

    Trees do much more than slurp carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and release life-sustaining oxygen: They provide fruit, nuts and other foods, as well as the raw materials for everything from fence posts to pharmaceuticals. And they’ve inspired poets and mythmakers, among many others. Buddha found enlightenment under a tree; so...

    09/20/2016 - 09:00 Plants, Science & Society, History of Science
  • Reviews & Previews

    Historian traces rise of celebrity hominid fossils

    Seven SkeletonsLydia PyneViking, $28

    After decades of research revealing their sophisticated lives, Neandertals still can’t shake their reputation as knuckle-dragging cavemen. And it’s the Old Man of La Chapelle’s fault.

    The Old Man of La Chapelle was the first relatively complete Neandertal skeleton ever found. Three French abbés discovered the bones in 1908. Soon after, geologist...

    08/22/2016 - 09:00 History of Science, Anthropology, Human Evolution