You are browsing the archive for Science & Medicine.

Mesmerising Science: The Franklin Commission and the Modern Clinical Trial

- November 20, 2018 in animal magnetism, baquet, benjamin franklin, Featured Articles, Franz Mesmer, history of clinical trials, hypnosis, magnetism, mesmerism, placebo, Science & Medicine, suggestion

Benjamin Franklin, magnetic trees, and erotically-charged séances — Urte Laukaityte on how a craze for sessions of "animal magnetism" in late 18th-century Paris led to the randomised placebo-controlled and double-blind clinical trials we know and love today.

The Poetry of Victorian Science

- July 26, 2018 in poetry, robert hunt, Science & Medicine, the poetry of science, victorian, victorian england, victorian science

In 1848, the mineralogist, pioneer of photography, and questionable poet Robert Hunt published The Poetry of Science, a hugely ambitious work that aimed to offer a survey of scientific knowledge while also communicating the metaphysical, moral, and aesthetic aspects of science to the general reader. Gregory Tate explores what the book can teach us about Victorian desires to reconcile the languages of poetry and science.

Bringing the Ocean Home

- June 21, 2018 in anemones, aquariums, Art & Illustrations, Books, fish, inventor of the aquarium, philip henry gosse, Religion, Myth & Legend, Science & Medicine

Bernd Brunner on the English naturalist Philip Henry Gosse and how his 1854 book The Aquarium, complete with spectacular illustrations and a dizzy dose of religious zeal, sparked a craze for the "ocean garden" that gripped Victorian Britain.

Darwin’s Polar Bear

- February 21, 2018 in arctic, arctic bears, bears, charles darwin, Comte de Buffon, evolution, James Lamont, natural selection, oliver goldsmith, polar bears, Science & Medicine

Musings upon the whys and wherefores of polar bears, particularly in relation to their forest-dwelling cousins, played an important but often overlooked role in the development of evolutionary theory. Michael Engelhard explores.

The Dreams of an Inventor in 1420

- January 24, 2018 in Art & Illustrations, automatons, engineering, Featured Articles, inventions, inventors, Renaissance, Science & Medicine

Bennett Gilbert peruses a sketchbook of 15th-century engineer Johannes de Fontana, a catalogue of designs for a wide-range of fantastic and often impossible inventions, including fire-breathing automatons, pulley-powered angels, and the earliest surviving drawing of a magic lantern device.

Pods, Pots, and Potions: Putting Cacao to Paper in Early Modern Europe

- December 7, 2017 in Art & Illustrations, botanical art, botanical illustrations, cacao, chocolate, cocoa, colonialism, Culture & History, food, illustration, Science & Medicine

Christine Jones explores the different ways the cacao tree has been depicted through history — from 16th-century codices to 18th-century botanicals — and what this changing iconography reveals about cacao's journey into European culture.

Pods, Pots, and Potions: Putting Cacao to Paper in Early Modern Europe

- December 7, 2017 in Art & Illustrations, botanical art, botanical illustrations, cacao, chocolate, cocoa, colonialism, Culture & History, food, illustration, Science & Medicine

Christine Jones explores the different ways the cacao tree has been depicted through history — from 16th-century codices to 18th-century botanicals — and what this changing iconography reveals about cacao's journey into European culture.

Master of Disaster, Ignatius Donnelly

- October 24, 2017 in apocalypse, Atlantis, Books, catastrophe, disaster, disaster porn, Featured Articles, Ignatius Donnelly, Literature, pseudo-science, Religion, Myth & Legend, Science & Medicine, science fiction

The destruction of Atlantis, cataclysmic comets, and a Manhattan tower made entirely from concrete and corpse — Carl Abbott on the life and work of a Minnesotan writer, and failed politician, with a mind primed for catastrophe. The magnificent civilization of Atlantis shattered and plunged beneath the sea in February 1882. Or, to be more […]

Human Forms in Nature: Ernst Haeckel’s Trip to South Asia and Its Aftermath

- October 24, 2017 in aart form in nature, Art & Illustrations, biology, ceylon, Darwinism, ernst haeckel, eugenics, Featured Articles, Kunstformen der Natur, race, racism, Science, Science & Medicine, sri lanka

An early promoter and populariser of Darwin’s evolutionary theory, the German biologist and artist Ernst Haeckel was a hugely influential figure of the late 19th century. Bernd Brunner looks at how a trip to Sri Lanka sowed the seeds for not only Haeckel’s majestic illustrations from his Art Forms in Nature, for which he is […]

Ignatius Donnelly: Recipes for Disaster

- September 27, 2017 in apocalypse, Atlantis, Books, catastrophe, disaster, disaster porn, Featured Articles, Ignatius Donnelly, Literature, pseudo-science, Religion, Myth & Legend, Science & Medicine, science fiction

The destruction of Atlantis, cataclysmic comets, and a Manhattan tower made entirely from concrete and corpse — Carl Abbott on the life and work of a Minnesotan writer, and failed politician, with a mind primed for catastrophe.