history of science

  • Science Historian: Apollo 11 Quarantine after Moon Landing For Show

    Dagomar DeGroot's research shows that NASA scientists were aware of the tiny, but potentially catastrophic, risk of moon-earth contamination, and that quarantining the spacecraft and crew would do little to mitigate the risk but could convince the public that authorities were taking precautions. 

  • There's Never Been a Right Way to Read

    by Adrian Johns

    The intellectual work and play of reading has always competed with other demands on attention; only recently have science and commerce converged to sell remedies for distraction and proprietary methods for reading. 

  • Scientists: The Unsung Heroes of the American West

    by Elliott West

    From animal husbandry to epidemiology, the work of scientists was critical to America's conquest of the west, while the region also provided critical evidence in the debate over Darwin's theory of natural selection. 

  • How Fossil Fuel Dollars Warped University Climate Research

    Fossil fuel profit "secures favorable white papers, journals, societies, public-policy comments, courtroom testimony, and front groups that attack what the industry sees as damaging science," copying the 1950s playbook of the tobacco industry with more money and higher stakes. 

  • Steven Shapin on the Trust Inherent in Science

    The historian of science has examined the social relationships of credibility that must prevail for scientific expertise to exist, and also critiqued the evolving conventions of wine-tasting terminology from "Old BS" to "New BS." 

  • Review: Scientific Thought and Windows on Reality

    by Philip Kitcher

    The fierce debates over vaccines, masking, and other COVID mitigations have unsettled the security of "science" as a source of authoritative knowledge. A new book discusses the long debates about how scientific knowledge is produced, and how it becomes "The Science." 

  • What if Mental Illness Isn't All In Your Head?

    by Marco Ramos

    A historian of mental health reviews two new books and concludes that pharmaceutical and neurological approaches to mental health have failed and it's time to turn the lens onto society.

  • These Books Tell of Change Happening Slowly, then Suddenly

    Historians Lynn Hunt, Adam Hochschild, Kate Clifford-Larse and Keenaga-Yamahtta Taylor are among the authors whose books dig beneath the surface of famous leaders to describe how social movements built the strength to change laws, institutions and ideas.