The Earliest Plastic Billiard Balls Had A Habit Of Exploding

When you play a game of billiards, you’re usually hoping to hear the satisfying clack of the balls. You’re probably not hoping to hear a sound like gunfire as your cue ball connects with the eight ball. But if you got your hands on some of the earliest plastic billiard balls, that was a chance you took. » 5/19/15 8:00am Tuesday 8:00am

What Was In This Mysterious "Cure" For Alcoholism?

The most famous medical man dedicated to treating alcoholism was Leslie Keeley, who operated the Keeley Institute and sold Keeley’s Gold Cure. When patients got the facility they were given a nice room, encouragement, and four shots of “gold bichloride” a day. There’s no such thing as gold bichloride.
» 5/15/15 7:30am 5/15/15 7:30am

How We Learned Chlorine Gas Is Not An Effective Cold Remedy

We know that chlorine is incredibly dangerous if inhaled. It destroys lung tissue, causing people to asphyxiate on their own pulped lungs. It was used as a weapon in World War I, and soldiers were terrified of it. .So why did a US President and a good chunk of Congress get gassed with it as a medical treatment? » 5/11/15 6:30am 5/11/15 6:30am

How Should We Address Science's Selective Memory?

At Slate, Ben Lillie reflects on the ongoing battle between those who would build a colossal, $1.5-billion telescope atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea and the native Hawaiians who regard the dormant volcano as a sacred place. The conflict, says Lillie, is emblematic of a larger, and largely unspoken, truth about science: that… » 5/01/15 1:40pm 5/01/15 1:40pm

How Lord Byron's Scandals Led Ada Lovelace To Become A Mathematician

Ada Lovelace is now most famously known as the mother of computer science, but during her lifetime, she was also well known on account of her famous father: Lord Byron. Although Ada never met her father, his scandalous behavior had a profound effect on how she was raised — on a strict diet of mathematics. » 4/17/15 8:00am 4/17/15 8:00am

This Is The Drug In The Rolling Stones' Song "Mother's Little Helper"

When The Rolling Stones sang "Mother's Little Helper" back in 1966, they weren't talking about drugs. They were talking about a specific drug that was prescribed for everything from severely ill mental patients to recovering alcoholics to comfortable middle class people who sometimes felt anxious. It was called… » 3/23/15 1:20pm 3/23/15 1:20pm

These Scientific Names Were Chosen Purely To Insult Certain People

What is the best way to make sure your insult lasts a really, really long time? Well, if you're a scientist who has the pleasure of naming a newly described genus or species, you might be able to get away with inserting your insult into biological nomenclature. After the rise of modern taxonomy, a few people did… » 3/13/15 1:30pm 3/13/15 1:30pm

​Here's How Charles Darwin's Cousin Invented the Dog Whistle

Francis Galton would have been the famous eccentric scientist in any family except the one he was born into. The Darwin, Wedgewood, and Galton families were thick with scientists, and Francis wasn't anywhere near the favorite. He did leave his mark in both large and small ways. The dog whistle is one of the smaller… » 3/06/15 12:20pm 3/06/15 12:20pm