Why Birth Control Dispensers Look the Way They Do

The first working model of the now-iconic birth control pill dispenser is in the Smithsonian’s history collection. It’s built out of clear plastic, paper, and double-sided tape, held together by a snap from a child’s toy, with slices of wooden dowel standing in for pills. It was created to solve a vexing problem. » 7/01/15 3:00pm Wednesday 3:00pm

Galileo's Many Inventions Helped Redefine Our Place In The Universe

Galileo is considered one of the greatest astronomers of all time. His discovery of Jupiter’s major moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto) revolutionized astronomy and helped speed the acceptance of the Copernican Model of the universe. However, Galileo is also known for the numerous scientific inventions he made… » 6/30/15 11:20am Tuesday 11:20am

This Book Got The Author Sentenced to Three Months Hard Labor

Charles Knowlton didn’t think much of the laws of Massachusetts, at least when they interfered with his medical practice. By the time he opened a practice in the town of Ashfield, he had already been arrested in Amherst, MA for selling “infidel” books and had spent two months in the Worcester County Jail for grave… » 6/19/15 11:30am 6/19/15 11:30am

The NC French Teacher Who Was Maybe Also Napoleon's Military Strategist

The story of Peter Stewart Ney isn’t necessarily tied to a crime, but it’s so fascinating that it begs a spot among the other mysteries here. In the 18th century, Ney was a well-liked teacher in the Carolinas; at one point, he designed the seal still used by Davidson College. But was he hiding a secret military past? » 6/16/15 8:30pm 6/16/15 8:30pm

The Ancestor Of The Menstrual Cup Was More Like A Menstrual Canteen

The first modern-style menstrual cup was patented in 1932, but that wasn’t the first time inventors turned their skills to the problem of keeping bloody goo off women’s clothes. Take, for example, this little gem from 1884. It’s a menstrual cup, attached to a reservoir big enough to last for days. » 6/11/15 6:00pm 6/11/15 6:00pm

"Meat Glue" And Other Icky Stuff In The Imitation Food Items You Eat

You already knew that the crab in your lunch roll wasn’t really crab — but you probably didn’t know about all the other kinds of imitation foods you eat all the time. From faux wasabi to milk and olive oil that’s partly made up of additives, these are the weird ingredients in the fake foods you eat. » 6/09/15 4:00pm 6/09/15 4:00pm

7 Archaeologists Who Were Real-Life Indiana Joneses

Indiana Jones may not be beloved by real-life archaeologists, but there is one thing that Dr. Jones has in common with many historical archaeological and scientific explorers: he’s lived a very exciting life. Here are some real historical figures who had remarkable adventures and made plenty of discoveries along the… » 6/02/15 10:00am 6/02/15 10:00am

The First Person Who Ever Saw Sperm Cells Collected Them From His Wife

It’s a bright day in 1677, in the city of Delft, and Antonie van Leeuwenhoek is making love to his wife. But moments after he shudders with orgasm, he hurries out of bed to grab his microscope. After all, he’s not just spending time with his wife: he’s running an important scientific experiment at the request of the… » 6/01/15 5:40pm 6/01/15 5:40pm

In 1780, America's First Mass Murder Was A Crime Of "Uncommon Horror"

He served under George Washington during the Revolutionary War. But Barnett Davenport made his mark on early America in far less heroic way: he’s remembered as the first known mass killer, a crime dubbed “the most horrid murders ever perpetrated in this country, or perhaps any other.” » 5/25/15 6:00pm 5/25/15 6:00pm