A contraption used to extract the silk from a spider

The Tangled History of Weaving with Spider Silk

Spider silk is as strong as steel and as light as a feather, but attempts to industrialize its production have gotten stuck, so to speak.
Close up of an eye

Finding a Murderer in a Victim’s Eye

In late 19th-century forensics, optography was all the rage. This pseudoscience held that what someone saw just before death would be imprinted on their eye.
Relics from the Franklin Search Expedition

When Clairvoyants Searched for a Lost Expedition

When Captain Sir John Franklin's Arctic expedition went awry, clairvoyants claimed to be able to contact the crew members. Why did people believe them?
mummy brown painting

When Artists Painted with Real Mummies

The popular paint pigment called “mummy brown” used to be made from—yep—ground-up Egyptian mummies.
used styrofoam food containers

Is the 30-Year-Long Styrofoam War Nearing Its End?

Neither banning nor recycling will rid us of Styrofoam. Can we live without it?

Porklife: Building a Better Pig

Can we reconcile our growing appetite for meat with our desire to treat factory animals better?
econophysics

Sociophysics and Econophysics, the Future of Social Science?

Can empirical data about human behavior make the “soft” sciences more like the “hard” ones? New interdisciplinary fields are voting yes.
Ectoplasm Helen Duncan

Ectoplasm and the Last British Woman Tried for Witchcraft

Spiritualist medium Helen Duncan was photographed emitting ectoplasm, supposedly proof of her ability to contact the dead.
arsenic book

Some Books Can Kill

Poisonous green pigments laced with arsenic were once a common ingredient in book bindings, paints, wallpapers, and fabrics. Yikes.
Couney incubator

Coney Island’s Incubator Babies

Yes, you read that right.