Science History

Hennig Brand and the Discovery of Phosphorus

Spoiler alert: Hennig Brand discovered phosphorous by boiling pee. And phosphorous is the first element whose discoverer we can name. But he was really trying to do something else: He thought the secret to the philosopher’s stone might be found in urine. 

Baron Franz Nopcsa

Nopcsa lived an adventurous, scholarly life, funded entirely by his family money. He identified dinosaurs, inserted himself into Albanian politics, and wrote volumes and volumes of books and papers. But his life was not entirely charmed. 


The Life and Disappearance of Ettore Majorana

Had his life had taken a different course, he may have become as widely known as Albert Einstein. In the 1930s, Majorana contributed to the field of quantum mechanics in ways that fundamentally shaped the field. And then he vanished.

The Minuscule Science of Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek

Leeuwenhoek wasn’t REALLY a scientist -- he had no formal training. But he made dozens of scientific discoveries. He’s credited with discovering microscopic life in a variety of forms, using lenses he ground himself.

Emin Pasha, né Eduard Schnitzer (Part 1)

Emin Pasha's story connects to so many other historical things, particularly in the context of both the Ottoman Empire and African history. First, we'll talk about his time in Albania and how he made his way to Africa and took a new name.

John von Neumann

One man and his incredible intellect affected so many different disciplines. From game theory to computers to the Manhattan Project, von Neumann and his remarkable abilities helped shape the 20th century.

A Handful of Eclipses in History

Humans have been recording instances of solar eclipses for thousands of years. Today, we're walking through some of the famous eclipses in history, all while wearing proper eye shielding.

NASA History: Chief Historian Bill Barry on Hugh Dryden

The NASA space program likely wouldn't be what it is today without the work Hugh Dryden did before NASA even existed, and his guidance in its early years. NASA's Chief Historian Bill Barry joins Holly for a talk about Dryden's impressive life.

A Brief History of Veterinary Medicine

Animals and humans have been living together for centuries, but standardized veterinary care developed over a long period of time in many different places.

The Extinction of the Stephens Island Wren

The extinction of one New Zealand bird species is often attributed to a single cat. While feline predation played a significant role in the end of the Stephens Island wren, the story is actually more complex.