Sir Joseph Lister, Bt. and Listerine

Listerine is an antiseptic mouthwash, but where does the name originate? It is named for a person: Joseph Lister, 1st Baron Lister, also known as the Father of Modern Surgery. Until he entered the field of medicine, the popular theory of infection was not due to bacteria but “bad air”. At the time, surgeons would not […]

A Cursed Tablet

Archaeologists in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia, uncovered a lead scroll in 1986 within an ancient grave. The translation would reveal a curse in Ancient Macedonian from the 4th century BCE. But the curse itself, while interesting, had little impact compared to the impact of the language itself… What was on the tablet?

A Surprising Slurp

On an early September morning in 1995, an unusual discovery was made at a Hindu temple in south New Delhi. As a worshiper brought a spoonful of milk to the trunk of Ganesha, the milk disappeared! It appeared that the statue of the elephant-headed deity had drank the offering from the spoon. Instantly it was considered a sort of […]

Ships in the Gladiator Ring

Ancient Rome saw gladiatorial combat on a regular basis. Battle for entertainment was a regular staple of the era. In 46 BCE, Julius Caesar decided to up the ante. 6,000 prisoners of war were placed in ships to fight against one another in a massive staging of naval battle. This was only the beginning of […]

Early Experiments with LSD

In its early days, LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) was exclusive to labs. In fact, many of the early experiments were by doctors themselves, not patients. It wasn’t until 1966 that LSD became illegal in California (23 years after its psychedelic properties had been discovered), so there were many years of research before then. Now there […]

A Lesson in Reclaiming Waste

In the late 1980s, Mike Yurosek was frustrated. He was a carrot farmer who had to discard 400 tons of carrots every day because they were not “just right”. Carrots that were broken, twisted, slightly bruised, or otherwise imperfect simply wouldn’t sell in stores. Buyers were so picky that in many cases, 70% of the […]

Imhotep: a Name of History

Imhotep (known formally as Chancellor of the King of Egypt, Doctor, First in line after the King of Upper Egypt, Administrator of the Great Palace, Hereditary nobleman, High Priest of Heliopolis, Builder, Chief Carpenter, Chief Sculptor, and Maker of Vases in Chief), is the first known artist, architect, engineer, and physician. How did he achieve […]

Escape from Colditz

Built in 1046, Colditz Castle was used as a lookout post, a home for royalty, a zoo, and in World War II… a POW camp. During its use as a prison, the castle (known then as Oflag IV-C) saw thousands of prisoners, but beyond that it saw dozens of escape attempts. Around 30 of these attempts […]

Superconducting Super Loss

In the late ’70s, a supercollider was proposed to be built in Texas. At 54.1 miles around, it would be the largest ever built; beating the LHC by 37.1 miles! Unfortunately, the project failed due to budget concerns (rising from $4.4 billion in 1987 to $12 billion in 1993), so we will never see what could have been… but […]