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  • Originally published 04/10/2015

    Secret Warriors of the First World War

    Taylor Downing

    The First World War was not just a war of trenches, slaughter and sacrifice. It changed the scientific and technological landscape of the century to follow.

  • Originally published 03/19/2015

    How humans became human

    Avi Tuschman

    In an international bestseller Youval Harari lays out a grand new history of our species focusing on 3 major revolutions: Cognitive Revolution, Agricultural Revolution, Scientific Revolution.

  • Originally published 02/04/2015

    Absolute English

    Michael D Gordin

    Science once communicated in a polyglot of tongues, but now English rules alone. How did this happen – and at what cost?

  • Originally published 01/06/2015

    The Complex History of Pain: An Interview with Joanna Bourke

    Robin Lindley

    In her groundbreaking new book "The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers," renowned British historian Joanna Bourke explores how the understanding of the human sensation of pain has evolved over the past three centuries in the English-speaking world.

  • Originally published 12/04/2014

    TV’s First Education Superstar

    Eric Niderost

    Frank Baxter not only single-handedly put educational television on the map, but became a cherished and indelible memory in the minds of countless Baby Boomers.

  • Originally published 10/22/2014

    Origins of sex discovered

    A profound new discovery by palaeontologist, Flinders University Professor John Long, reveals how the intimate act of sexual intercourse first evolved in our deep distant ancestors.

  • Originally published 08/05/2014

    Secrets of the Creative Brain

    Nancy Andreasen

    A leading neuroscientist who has spent decades studying creativity shares her research on where genius comes from, whether it is dependent on high IQ—and why it is so often accompanied by mental illness.

  • Originally published 06/20/2014

    Russia’s sacred land

    Peter Turchin

    To understand Crimea, we need an evolutionary theory of national honour. It’s irrational and deadly – but it works.

  • Originally published 05/15/2014

    Can Math Be Used to Better Understand History?

    Peter Turchin

    Peter Turchin, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut, is doing just that through complex mathematical algorithms.

  • Originally published 04/03/2014

    Why science is better than history

    Tom Chivers

    You're probably going to get through about 1,000 books in your 4,000 weeks on earth--and you want to read history?

  • Originally published 03/28/2013

    Turin Shroud 'is not a medieval forgery'

    Experiments conducted by scientists at the University of Padua in northern Italy have dated the shroud to ancient times, a few centuries before and after the life of Christ.Many Catholics believe that the 14ft-long linen cloth, which bears the imprint of the face and body of a bearded man, was used to bury Christ's body when he was lifted down from the cross after being crucified 2,000 years ago.The analysis is published in a new book, "Il Mistero della Sindone" or The Mystery of the Shroud, by Giulio Fanti, a professor of mechanical and thermal measurement at Padua University, and Saverio Gaeta, a journalist....

  • Originally published 01/29/2013

    Doctor to the mummies

    As a pathologist, Michael Zimmerman was familiar with dead bodies, but when he was asked to autopsy a mummy for the first time, he wasn’t sure what to expect. There were a dozen layers of wrapping, which he peeled off one at a time, “like Chinese boxes,” he said. When he finished, he found the body was dark brown and hard. “It smelled like old books.”That was more than 30 years ago. Now, having dissected and CT-scanned mummies from all over the world — some ancient and some just two or three centuries old — Zimmerman has begun drawing conclusions about health and disease in past eras. His work and that of other so-called paleopathologists is starting to challenge assumptions about which diseases are caused by modern lifestyles and which ones are as ancient as the pharaohs....

  • Originally published 01/25/2013

    Clues to prehistoric human exploration found in sweet potato genome

    Europeans raced across oceans and continents during the Age of Exploration in search of territory and riches. But when they reached the South Pacific, they found they had been beaten there by a more humble traveler: the sweet potato. Now, a new study suggests that the plant's genetics may be the key to unraveling another great age of exploration, one that predated European expansion by several hundred years and remains an anthropological enigma.Humans domesticated the sweet potato in the Peruvian highlands about 8000 years ago, and previous generations of scholars believed that Spanish and Portuguese explorers introduced the crop to Southeast Asia and the Pacific beginning in the 16th century. But in recent years, archaeologists and linguists have accumulated evidence supporting another hypothesis: Premodern Polynesian sailors navigated their sophisticated ships all the way to the west coast of South America and brought the sweet potato back home with them. The oldest carbonized sample of the crop found by archaeologists in the Pacific dates to about 1000 C.E.—nearly 500 years before Columbus's first voyage. What's more, the word for "sweet potato" in many Polynesian languages closely resembles the Quechua word for the plant....

  • Originally published 01/24/2013

    Earliest evidence of chocolate in North America

    They were humble farmers who grew corn and dwelt in subterranean pit houses. But the people who lived 1200 years ago in a Utah village known as Site 13, near Canyonlands National Park in Utah, seem to have had at least one indulgence: chocolate. Researchers report that half a dozen bowls excavated from the area contain traces of chocolate, the earliest known in North America. The finding implies that by the end of the 8th century C.E., cacao beans, which grow only in the tropics, were being imported to Utah from orchards thousands of kilometers away.The discovery could force archaeologists to rethink the widely held view that the early people of the northern Southwest, who would go on to build enormous masonry "great houses" at New Mexico's Chaco Canyon and create fine pottery, had little interaction with their neighbors in Mesoamerica. Other scientists are intrigued by the new claim, but also skeptical....

  • Originally published 11/11/2015

    Science, Large and Small

    Steve Hochstadt

    My dogs would make poor scientists, because they can be individual learners at best, unable to profit from the knowledge gained by other members of their species. But they are better scientists than Republican know-nothings, because they learn from the world around them without political filters and ideological blinders.

  • Originally published 07/27/2014

    In Foreign Affairs, Not Doing Anything is the Thing to Do

    Liberty and Power

    The heartbreaking violence in the Middle East, Ukraine, and elsewhere carries many messages, but here’s one Americans shouldn’t miss: The United States — no matter who the president is — cannot manage world conflict. The corollary is that when a president tries to manage it,things will usually get worse. Foresight is always defective, and tragic unintended consequences will prevail.