Tarantella dancers, 1828

When Dancing Plagues Struck Medieval Europe

The tarantella is named for a peasant woman from southern Italy whose tarantula bite started a contagious dancing fever!
Otto Marseus van Schrieck - Stilleben mit Insekten und Amphibien, 1662

A Recipe for Flies and Frogs

And other wonders of spontaneous generation.
U.S. World War II anti-venereal disease poster

When America Incarcerated “Promiscuous” Women

From WWI to the 1950s, the "American Plan" rounded up sexually-active women and quarantined them, supposedly to protect soldiers from venereal disease.
bezoar goat

From the Belly of a Goat to the Mouth of a King

Bezoars, a strange lump formed in the belly of a goat, once were considered a panacea, and worth more than their weight in gold.
obstetric forceps

Why Male Midwives Concealed the Obstetric Forceps

The history of obstetric forceps shows the dangers of privatizing important medical know-how.
Ignaz Semmelweis

The Man Who Invented Modern Infection Control

He's hailed as the "father of infection control" and the "savior of mothers," but the truth about Ignaz Semmelweis is more complicated than that.
Jabir ibn Hayyan Geber

How to Create a Human Being

The Book of Stones, a central alchemical text, contained formulae with the power to create living tissue from ordinary matter, supposedly.