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Visions of Algae in Eighteenth-Century Botany

- September 7, 2016 in algae, botany, Conferva fontinalis, Erasmus Darwin, frankenstein, Joseph Priestley, mary shelley, photosynthesis, Science & Medicine, temple of nature

Although not normally considered the most glamorous of Mother Nature's offerings, algae has found itself at the heart of many a key moment in the last few hundred years of botanical science. Ryan Feigenbaum traces the surprising history of one particular species — Conferva fontinalis — from the vials of Joseph Priestley's laboratory to its possible role as inspiration for Shelley's Frankenstein.

Frankenstein, the Baroness, and the Climate Refugees of 1816

- June 15, 2016 in Baroness de Krüdener, Culture & History, famine, frankenstein, Literature, lord byron, mary shelley, refugee crisis, refugees, year without a summer

It is 200 years since The Year Without a Summer, when a sun-obscuring ash cloud — ejected from one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions in recorded history — caused temperatures to plummet the world over. Gillen D’Arcy Wood looks at the humanitarian crisis triggered by the unusual weather, and how it offers an alternative lens through which to read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a book begun in its midst.