Marie Lafarge, c. 1850

The Arsenic Cake of Madame Lafarge

The first trial to use forensic toxicology electrified France in 1840 with the tale of a bad marriage and poisoned innards.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Schreibzeug_(Nürnberg).jpg

How Renaissance Artisans Turned Live Animals into Silver

Lifecasting was the renaissance art of making sculptures using molds taken from real-life plants and animals.
A 17th century standing cup

These Bizarre Ivory Cups Were Carved by Princes

The royal houses of Europe felt that it would be good for their sons to learn a manual trade. Artisans taught nobles to carve ivory on a lathe.
Six book covers

Editors’ Picks: What We’re Reading

The history of Native resistance, the philosophy of love, the medicalization of madness, color in fairy tales, and dinosaur bones.
Two illustrations of the heart

Who Really Discovered How the Heart Works?

For centuries, the voice of the Greek doctor Galen, who held that blood is produced in the liver and filtered through tiny pores in the heart, went unchallenged.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Giovanni_Aldini,_Essai...sur_le_galvanisme..._Wellcome_L0023892.jpg

Will Reanimating Dead Brains Inspire the Next Frankenstein?

In recent experiments, scientists brought back cellular functions to the brains of dead pigs, recalling early galvanism.
A basilisk with a beam of light extending from its eye

The Extremely Real Science behind the Basilisk’s Lethal Gaze

According to the extramission theory of vision, our eyes send out beams of elemental fire that spread, nerve like, to create the visual field.
Leaders of the S-1 project, consider the feasibility of the 184-inch cyclotron at Berkeley, March 29, 1940. Left to right: E.O. Lawrence, Arthur Compton, Vannever Bush, James B. Constant, Karl Compton, Alfred Loomis.

The Man Behind the USA’s Decision to Build the Bomb

FDR's "czar of research," an electrical engineer named Vannevar Bush, was working on an atomic bomb months before Pearl Harbor.
A Pedoscope made by the Pedoscope Company

When Shoes Were Fit with X-Rays

Fluoroscopes were used in shoe stores from the mid-1920s to 1950s in North America and Europe -- even though the radiation risks of x-rays were well-known.
Paleontologist dinosaur bones

The Controversy Around the First Museum Dinosaurs

Dinosaur bones on display at the American Museum of Natural History always balanced conveying objective truth with promoting science to the public.