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Jess Romeo

Jess Romeo is a science writer with a passion for literature and a tendency to fall down rabbit holes. Her work has appeared in Popular Science, Undark, and Scholastic classroom magazines.

Karate chop

The Physics of Karate

A human hand has the power to split wooden planks and demolish concrete blocks. A trio of physicists investigated why this feat doesn't shatter our bones.
An illustration of digital viruses

Do Viruses Cheat to Win at Evolution?

How one pair of researchers used game theory to predict the sneaky, underhanded behavior of microbial competitors.
An artist concept of a NASA astronaut on Mars

Why Hasn’t NASA Sent Anyone to Mars?

The Perseverance mission to Mars represents a considerable step forward for the space program. But are rovers as good as it gets?
Annie Montague Alexander

Annie M. Alexander: Paleontologist and Silent Benefactor

An unsung patron of science whose deep pockets and passion for exploring led to the founding of two influential natural history museums.
An image of the uterus and womb, 1908

The “Scientific” Antifeminists of Victorian England

Nineteenth-century biologists employed some outrageous arguments in order to keep women confined to the home.
A collection of rare beer cans

An Archeologist’s Guide to Beer Cans

Here's how to figure out how long it's been since someone left their empties around, only to be dug up later.
a caricature of three women whose depicted clothing satirizes the beginnings of neo-classical fashion influences in England.

Why Are So Many Romances Set in the Regency Period?

The British Regency era lasted less than a decade, but it spawned a staggering number of unlikely fictional marriages.
Vintage engraving of an old fisherman drinking a cup of tea, 1900

What’s the Difference between a Shanty and a Sea Song?

“Soon May the Wellerman Come” is the heart of ShantyTok—but it’s not a sea shanty at all. Two authoritative essays roil the waters.
An illustration of a man sneezing

You Don’t Get Colds from Being Cold

On the persistence of a folk belief.
Actress Dorothy Tutin having an anti-flu injection, 1969

How Scientists Tried to Find a Universal Flu Vaccine

The quest to “conquer” influenza with a shot that could be used every year started out with high hopes, and ended up a hot mess.
Richard P. Strong

The Deadly Bilibid Prison Vaccine Trials

In 1906, physician Richard Strong's already-unethical vaccine experiment went horribly wrong. Then it was swept under the rug.
Atlantic horseshoe crab (Polyphemus occidentalis) illustration from Zoology of New york (1842 - 1844) by James Ellsworth De Kay (1792-1851).

The Horseshoe Crab: Same as It Ever Was?

The seemingly static appearance of these ancient-looking arthropods presents a challenge for scientists who want to study their evolutionary history.
Babies from the City Maternity Hospital being held by the nurses and doctors who had delivered them.

How Scientists Became Advocates for Birth Control

The fight to gain scientists' support for the birth control movement proved a turning point in contraceptive science—and led to a research revolution.
Execution of Louis XVI, 1793

The Decapitation Experiments of Jean César Legallois

This French scientist conducted a series of gruesome experiments in his quest to discover the true limits of life and death.
A grizzly bear c. 1955

The Scientist Who Wanted Grizzly Bears Eliminated

In the late 1960s, two highly visible deaths from grizzly bear attacks led to a debate about whether humans and bears could coexist.
Cassava

The Taínos Refused to Grow Food. The Spanish Starved.

Rebellion against invasion triggered a series of events that would take a "swift and violent toll" on a Caribbean island's native biodiversity.
Jerrie Cobb poses next to a Mercury spaceship capsule.

How the Mercury 13 Fought to Get Women in Space

In 1962, the House of Representatives convened a special subcommittee to determine if women should be admitted into NASA’s space program.
Ynés Mexía

Ynés Mexía: Botanical Trailblazer

This Mexican-American botanist fought against the harshness of both nature and society to follow her passion for plant collecting.
Alien in a car at Baker, San Bernardino County, California, USA

Our Space Brothers Might Not Actually Look Like Little Green Men after All

If we find aliens, chances are they'll be nothing like we ever imagined.
The Bobcat Fire burns through the Angeles National Forest on September 11, 2020 north of Monrovia, California.

A Recipe for Ancient Wildfires

The earliest wildfires raged long before humans, and they only needed three ingredients to get started.
Astronaut Sidney M. Gutierrez, mission commander, pauses on the flight deck during Earth observations on the Space Shuttle Endeavour, 1994

Sidney M. Gutierrez: Shooting for the Stars

The first U.S.-born Latino astronaut to pilot a space mission blazed the long road to NASA with determination and optimism.
The Book of Miracles, c. 1550

The Long History of Comet Phobia

Even the invention of the telescope couldn't convince all people to put aside superstitions about comets.
Pensive man looking out of window

Your Brain on Quarantine

Struggling to stay inside during quarantine? Feeling bored? Anxious? Researchers say you're not alone.
Great White Shark

Sharks Before and After Jaws

The blockbuster Jaws (1975) provoked fear by portraying sharks as "mindless eating machines." But what did people think of sharks before then?
A swarm of locusts by Emil Schmidt

How the Soviet Union Turned a Plague into Propaganda

The fight against locust swarms allowed the Soviet Union to consolidate power over neighboring regions.