Francis Galton pioneered scientific advances in many fields – but also founded the racist pseudoscience of eugenics

Smart people can have really bad ideas – like selectively breeding human beings to improve the species. Put into practice, Galton's concept proved discriminatory, damaging, even deadly.

Richard Gunderman, Chancellor's Professor of Medicine, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy, Indiana University • conversation
Jan. 15, 2021 ~9 min

 statistics  charles-darwin  history-of-science  forensic-science  meteorology  prayer  fingerprints  eugenics  on-the-origin-of-species  francis-galton  forced-sterilization

Solve suffering by blowing up the universe? The dubious philosophy of human extinction

Driven by a desire to eliminate pain, some people have shockingly advocated taking the rest of nature with us.

Thomas Moynihan, Researcher, Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford • conversation
Nov. 17, 2020 ~8 min

extinction philosophy history-of-science interdisciplinarity suffering

John Tyndall: the forgotten co-founder of climate science

The man who explained the greenhouse effect was accidentally killed by his wife.

Roland Jackson, Research Associate in the History of Science and Visiting Fellow at the Royal Institution, UCL • conversation
July 31, 2020 ~7 min

atmosphere history-of-science climate-science mountaineering greenhouse-effect

The mystery of the missing portrait of Robert Hooke, 17th-century scientist extraordinaire

Online sleuthing and deductive reasoning identifies what appears to be the only existent portrait painted of the celebrated scientist during his lifetime.

Larry Griffing, Associate Professor of Biology, Texas A&M University • conversation
July 27, 2020 ~10 min

 history-of-science  scientists  scientist  cells  royal-society  portraiture  mathematicians  isaac-newton  portrait-painting

Sexism pushed Rosalind Franklin toward the scientific sidelines during her short life, but her work still shines on her 100th birthday

Franklin was born a century ago, and her X-ray crystallography work crucially contributed to determining the structure of DNA.

Richard Gunderman, Chancellor's Professor of Medicine, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy, Indiana University • conversation
July 20, 2020 ~8 min

 dna  women-in-stem  nobel-prize  women-in-science  history-of-science  sexism  james-watson  x-ray-diffraction  dna-structure  rosalind-franklin  francis-crick  x-ray-crystallography

Neowise: an increasingly rare opportunity to spot a comet with the naked eye

Neowise has an orbit of almost 6800 years, meaning that the last generation of people to see it would have lived during the 5th millennium BC.

Ian Whittaker, Senior Lecturer in Physics, Nottingham Trent University • conversation
July 16, 2020 ~7 min

astronomy history-of-science space-exploration comets

Ignaz Semmelweis, the doctor who discovered the disease-fighting power of hand-washing in 1847

A Hungarian obstetrician was the first to nail down the importance of handwashing to stop the spread of infectious disease.

Leslie S. Leighton, Visiting Lecturer of History, Georgia State University • conversation
April 14, 2020 ~8 min

history-of-medicine maternal-mortality handwashing history-of-science hand-washing disease-control contagion cleanliness handwashing-and-coronavirus

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